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august 2016 | Volume 146


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Vancouver TheatreSports League
Improv Centre, Granville Island
Wednesdays 9:15 pm
From $5



It’s been a while since I’ve attended a TheatreSports show. So I moseyed down to the Granville Island Improv Centre at 9 pm on a mid-August Wednesday to see OK Tinder – Swipe Right Comedy, one of six different improvised comedy shows currently running there. I expected to find myself in a sparsely attended theatre among a sprinkling of hardcore fans. Well duh me! The place was packed, with a long lineup for the bar while people waited for the earlier full house to let out. The average age – maybe 25, exactly the demographic our mainstream theatre companies are dying to figure out how to capture. And the joint was rockin’!

This show has fun with on-line dating, something most of the young audience seems to have experience with, or at least knows a lot about. An emcee (whose name I didn’t catch) warms up the crowd, conducts the hour-long show and sometimes joins the four performers—Chris, Claire, David and Liz—in their improvised skits. With the help of the audience, the emcee prompts the performers to create short bits, some inevitably funnier than others. If a skit isn’t working or when it seems to reach a natural end, the emcee cuts it off and prompts a new one. Live (and very clever) musical and lighting cues help shape the skits and add theatrical dimension. The music is almost like another character.

In the first skit the performers are asked to pitch a dating site that doesn’t currently exist. Two that are chosen are Hot People and Abstain. The performers then act out, in only a few seconds, what happens when the participants meet. For Hot People, Claire just throws herself at David, wraps her leg around him. For Abstain, all four approach but never touch. They seem to take silent cues from each other, turning the scene into very funny slo mo agony of explosively repressed sexual longing.

The audience is asked to read lines they’ve sent to or received from prospective online dates: “Do you work out?” “Wait, you never told me you had a girlfriend.” “Are you a man or a woman?” “You can sit on my face.” Each of them becomes a required first line of a skit. That doesn’t work so well. In another, the audience suggests different Vancouver-area neighbourhoods and dating activities. The performers then go on go-karting dates in Yaletown, Commercial Drive and Chilliwack. They are so quick to carve out funny, telling details to go with the broad stereotypes (hyper-sophisticated Yaletowners, hippie-dippy Commercialites, yokel Chilliwackers). David in Yaletown: “my hair is so gelled I don’t need a helmet.”

The funniest skit of the night by far was a talk-show interview about manscaping. I didn’t hear much of what Liz and David said in the interview because alongside them Chris signed it for the deaf, and I was corpsed with laughter along with everyone else in the place. His gestures were so crisply clear and outrageously, absurdly funny. This was absolute comic genius: an actor improvising in a made-up silent language that made perfect hilarious sense.

The show is quick, only around an hour, and cheap--$5 to $11—so it’s easily accessible and convenient for part of an evening out. The talent is really impressive and, bottom line, it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

Jerry Wasserman



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Vancouver's arts and culture website providing theatre news, previews and reviews