3 Fringe IMPROV shows
By Travis Bernhardt, Vancouver, Venue 10 (Acacia Hall)
Whether you praise Jesus, Allah, Jehovah or something in between, people of every belief system can congregate to The Church of Travis Bernhardt.
His Fringe show Unscriptured is an improvised church service based on audience suggestions. The show feels like a Sunday afternoon televangelist program. Voted best male improviser at the International Improv Festival in 2015, Bernhardt is over the top, he is silly, and he won’t hesitate to laugh at himself. Be prepared for divine awakening, singalongs, and goofy hymns.
If you didn’t like church growing up, be warned that this show is very involved and interactive. Be prepared to get up off your seat and join in. But if you’re looking for good fun for the whole family, then come on down for some devout Fringing, you may see a baptism – and you may even walk away a believer in the Church of [Insert Your Religion Here].
3 out of 5
By Hip!Bang, Vancouver, Venue 18 (Sugar Swing Ballroom)
This show truly lives up to its name. Devin MacKenzie and Tom Hill are hip, and roar onto the stage with explosive energy, taking the crowd over with a BANG. Their boisterous enthusiasm is infectious, they immediately captivate the audience.
They strip down to their theatrical birthday suits, zero props, zero effects, just two guys and a stage, and they nail it. They are passionate and rambunctious, and they feed off of each other’s sarcasm and wit. The dynamic comedy duo are the perfect pair, a regular Bonnie and Clyde, but without the cliff and the car.
If you love quick, on-the-ball sarcastic humour, then you will absolutely fall head over heels for these two smart-asses.
5 out of 5
Big Stupid Improv Show
By Big Stupid, Edmonton, Venue 17 (Roxy on Gateway Theatre)
Once again, Edmonton’s venerable Rapid Fire Theatre presents a piece of absolute genius at the Fringe with the Big Stupid Improv Show – an impeccably executed mash-up between improvised performance and game show. Every show is different. The diverse and elaborate cast of exceptional improv performers changes daily to ensure an edge of your seat experience every time, and usually includes some of the biggest comedy stars of this year’s festival.
The night starts when the host introduces all the “contestants” who will direct improvised skits, which will be judged by the audience through different rounds. You get to choose who wins, who loses, who gets voted off the island, and who gets to walk away the winner. As each skit evolves, the contestants’ stories unfold, using obscure props, animated body language, song and dance, and even audience member stunt doubles.
Rapid Fire Theatre has really forged a new frontier in comedy improv. Their rotating cast is memorably, witty, lighthearted, and just plain amazing; a proud avant-garde branch-off from shows like Whose Line Is It Anyway?
5 out of 5