Of improvisation and canned ham

By Chris Tait

Are you a night owl searching for something to spice up your Saturday nights? Are you looking for something new and different to satisfy and tantalize your taste for live entertainment? Can’t find an open supermarket at midnight on the weekend?

Well, you don’t have to go to the French Maid or the fresh food black market. Nope, search no further than the Plaza Theatre where a fresh, new improvisation troupe performs every Saturday night.

The six-member Curiously Canadian Improv Guild, led by 20-year improv veterans Rick Hilton and Dave Duncan, and including Rob Mitchelson, Rob Ullett, Ken Gardener and University of Calgary student Laura Hildebrandt, is grateful for being able to do their schtick in a lively area like Kensington.

"[The Plaza] is a great venue letting us in the door for nothing," says Hilton.

Ritualistically visiting a nearby pub after the show, the group goes over the night’s creative ejaculations. The group’s favourite exercise is what they call the "life game."

"There’s something inherently interesting about playing peoples’ lives," explains Mitchelson.

The comedic co-op asks an audience member to enter stage left and provide a bit of their life story, which the troupe play out as directed by the brave volunteer.

There is an incentive for the timid. To entice the delicious and necessary audience participation, Hilton places a mouth-watering prize on the stage: a ham.

How does this project compete with the well-established Loose Moose Theatre Company?

"It’s really a workshop thing," explains Hilton. "It’s certainly not an adversarial relationship."

Mitchelson adds they have been co-existing for months now.

For those frightened of deranged dramaturges forcing acting upon the dramatically weak–like, say, yours truly–fear no longer. The audience participation is purely voluntary. But is it even an issue, with such a priceless prize at steak? (Bad pun alert.)

The show starts at 11:45 p.m.–finally, something works out for us night folk rather than those pesky, perky morning people–so it’s easy to make your way down for a little post-evening drink, pre-nightcap entertainment for the cost of half a beer.

All this craziness for $5 for two people, this has got to be the cheapest ticket in town. On a Saturday. At nearly midnight. With ham. Think about the endless possibilities.

Catch the Curiously Canadian Improv Guild every Saturday night at the Plaza Theatre 1133 Kensington Rd. NW. Sorry folks, no noon show.

Leave a comment