Once again, my little blog has gone sleepy-bye for an extended period, but this time I’ve got an excuse! It’s been a busy time for me, yes it has, starting with a sweet audition on Monday, important meetings with exceptional folks throughout, prep for a crazy upcoming adventure, and most importantly of all (at least for the purposes of this particular overdue post), I’ve been indulging myself as much as I could in week one of the 2014 MY SUMMER CRUSH series, now well underway at Arts Court. I was very regular attendee of last year’s event, attending tons of amazing workshops, and seeing hilarious shows by not only event hosts Crush Improv themselves, but guest stars like Bad Dog Theatre, Montreal Improv Kirsten Rasmussen and more. I was a little gutted to find I would only be able to hit up one week of this year’s MSC (see: crazy adventure, above), but figured that just meant I should make the most of it.
Only could make it out to two workshops this year, so two workshops is what I did. Those were an Improv Foundations ‘shop led by Crush’s own Brooke Cameron, and then a movement/physicality class by the lady Alix Sideris. It was very good to get back playing with some improv again, and especially from two super talented ladies such as this. Saw lots of fun new faces at both evenings, and am kind of wondering which of them will be joining the ranks of Aftermath Improv (the troupe that grew out of last year’s workshops, still going strong). Those two very much made me want to get back on a stage again…which I will, and soon, but more on that later.
Right now, it was time for some shows! Set up in Arts Court studio with the Kichissippi flowing freely (well, not FREE, but reasonably priced), I got in three nights of shows, and each time I laughed until I cried, and then laughed some more. Crush Improv (AL, Tim, Des, Brooke and Glen Gower, minus an ill Dan Lajoie) kicked off opening night with some of the funniest work I’ve ever seen them do, using the format they pioneered in the earlier CRUSH IMPROV SHOW a few months back. It’s genius, and Crush showed once again why they rule the improv roost in this here town.
Night two featured the return of Bout Time greats 2 and a Half Women (featuring Tim, Brooke and Kristine Shadid), who hosted the evening and reminded everyone why they won all those bouts. I even got one of my lines used in the show! They were followed by some newcomers to the Summer Crush Stage, Montreal’s Vinny Francois and Sean Michaels in VENEZUELA, a goddam brilliant two-man improv set done completely in gibberish. Maybe I just have it on the brain, but I swear them boys have some clown training in them. The things they did with just one written suggestion and their own timing and characters…divine.
But things really got cooking after that, when the legendary Summer Crush late show got underway. Both groups took the stage for some freeform improv jamming, which included a beautifully awkward standup comedy scene that is, hands down, on of THE funniest things I’ve ever witnessed in Improv. If it had kept going for another hour all on its own, I would have been a happy man.
On my last night, the 2014 Performance Ensemble took the stage. A group assembled via audition, and coached by various Crushers, the Ensemble is as amazing an example as you need of Crush Improv’s dedication to boosting the overall Improv scene in Ottawa (and for the record…it’s working). Featuring Marisa Bettino, Leslie Cserepy, Mary Harvey, Hayley Robateau, Ryan Walsh, Jill Budgell, Allison Harris, Amanda Parker, Kristine Shadid and Lauren Welchner, the gang did a seriously fantastic job in their debut performance, coached by the omnipresent Brooke Cameron. Worth it for the Butt Whisperer gag alone.
That set the stage for the return of Marc Rowland and Brent Skagford of Montreal Improv and EASY ACTION, a two-man on-the-fly action movie they wowed us with last year at Summer Crush, so much so they were invited back to do it again. The adventure this time involved estranged parents, young love, and what BMX really stands for. Watching Marc and Brent make their magic is almost criminally fun…these two are dad-blamed geniuses and no fooling. It’s also quite fun watching them crack each other up onstage, which happens a lot.
One more round of late night action, and some more magic, and that was sadly it for my time with My Summer Crush 2014. But it doesn’t have to be yours!! You’re still here, and there are so very many great things up and coming! Aside from tons more workshops which I urge anyone interested in Improv to try, there re lots more stellar shows from comedy heroes like Ladystache, Bad Dog Theatre (who bring their Trek-themed FINAL FRONTIER show to Ottawa this time around), Nick DiGaetano, Uncalled For, and of course, headliner Kevin McDonald of KIDS IN THE HALL. You might want to get an early ticket for THAT one. All of this plus the Sketch Comedy Café, Next Act Ensemble, the return of Bout Time heroines LBD, and of course plenty more Crush Improv and late night shenanigans. THIS is what’s happening in Ottawa in August, folks, and you’re doing yourself a disservice if you miss out on it. World class comedy at your doorstep…might wanna check it out. You know, if you like laughing and stuff. Peace, love and soul,