Featuring a diverse group of talents from Chicago, North Carolina, and right here in Charleston, this Improv Marathon will give audiences a look at three very different approaches to comedy. From the musical stylings of Doppelganger and the quick pace of the Alterboyz to the more measured approach of Third Date, this show has something for all improv fans.
Charleston Comedy Fest will be the first road show for the four-person improv team that makes up Durham, N.C.'s Third Date. Operating at a slower pace than your average ensemble, director Dan Sipp says his goal is to present everyday scenarios as realistically as possible, while mining those scenes for meaningful humor that resonates with the audience. This means the troupe places less of a focus on throwaway gags and instead tries to go for laughs that connect with crowds on a deeper level.
"We like to be very thoughtful. We've performed in a lot of different improv shows and we've seen a lot of shows over the years. We asked ourselves, 'What are we not seeing?'" Sipp says. "We wanted to see scenes with more heart and more substance. We play scenes that are about something and hopefully the audience will still be talking about the ideas that we present after they leave the show."
For Sipp and the rest of Third Date, a big part of practicing and performing together is the trust that exists between the members of the group. This is especially important with improv because you can't be focused on entertaining the audience if you're too worried about your partners dropping the ball. Luckily, Sipp and his partners, Jenny Spencer, J Chachula, and Nancy Pekar, are devoted to one another and bringing their brand of humor to Charleston.
"Every single person believes in what the group is doing and everyone believes in the type of show that we are trying to put on," says Sipp. "And I believe that really translates to the stage."
Don't be fooled by the name. This all-woman troupe from Chicago is anything but quiet. With a high-energy performance style that leans toward physicality and spitfire jokes, the team's members constantly tag off to keep the show moving at a rapid pace.
"Let's say there's a really funny character on stage that's a fifth-grade teacher who gets picked on all the time by his students. Someone would tag out all the students and come on as the teacher's dentist," says Alterboyz member Leila Gorstein. "It's about getting to see that character in another world or seeing other aspects of that person's life. The situation could be that his dentist also picks on him. We play around a lot with exploring a character's world, and a lot of times that world will only exist for that one show."
After only one year together, the Alterboyz have earned laughs at almost every improv venue in the Windy City and have recently began to spread their wings and tour. In only their third performance outside of Chicago, the group is happy to escape the brutal Midwest winter for the slightly warmer beaches of Charleston.
The six performers that make up the Alterboyz first met while honing their comedy skills at the iO Theater in Chicago, which has produced such talented comedians as Tina Fey, Mike Myers, and Amy Poehler. Deciding to form a group of their own, Gorstein, Katie McCarty, Katrina Sly, Gaby Dickson, Kaylee Dolan, and Maddie Cordovano took the chemistry they established offstage and began sharing it with audiences.
"We all came together from different walks of life, and we all promised we'd be very dedicated to the team. If we don't hang out for a few weeks, you can see it on the stage," said Cordovano. "It's really rejuvenating to perform together. When we started the group, we didn't set out to be an all-female team, but I'm very proud to be six women out there doing comedy. The scene in Chicago is very male dominated, so there's something fulfilling about being six women on stage doing what we love."
A Charleston native, Gorstein got her start performing in high school and is excited to bring the skills she's honed in Chicago back home.
"I've been doing improv now for almost eight years," she says. "It's going to feel really great to do a show with my friends from Chicago coming full circle."