“If there was ever a winter that had folks in need of a laugh — it’s this one,” says Liane Gregory-Sterritt, workshop director and host of this weekend’s “I Wanna Laugh!” improvisational comedy show, presented by St. Marys Community Players (SMCP) in the Town Hall Auditorium.
Record cold temperatures and never-ending snow have the winter blues hitting hard. Gregory-Sterritt and the graduates of a winter-long improv course she has been leading in St. Marys are, fortunately, here to save the day. Nine students will join their instructor for two versions of their “Graduation Show” on Friday, March 7 and Saturday, March 8. The curtain rises both evenings at 8 p.m.
The students, ranging in age from their 20s to their 70s, have been studying the craft of improvised comedy since December. For “I Wanna Laugh!,” they’ll show off their techniques and create a lot of laughter in the process.
Improv uses comic techniques to build on suggestions from the audience. As Gregory-Sterritt explains, “People sometimes think improv is stand-up (comedy); but they’re actually two very different things. For improv, there are absolutely NO rehearsed lines. Ideas come from the audience for each scene — and, on the spot, students weave those ideas into comedy gold.”
Aside from the students being up onstage, there are also some improv games that have audience members onstage participating, too. “That’s one of the things I love about improv,” enthuses Gregory-Sterritt, who helped keep SMCP audiences laughing in her lead role in 2012’s Old Love at the Town Hall. “It’s when we get audience members to join us onstage. It’s amazing how much fun we all have!”
And fun certainly seems to be at the core of what the students have been learning for the past several months.
“Students have had tears running down their face, they’ve been laughing so hard,” says Gregory-Sterritt. “So, definitely, we’ve been having fun!” It’s also a lot of hard work, focus, and teamwork.
That’s something that Gregory-Sterritt has learnt throughout her many years in improv. Having graduated from Second City’s Master Class, she knows that putting in a lot of effort and working as a team is essential to creating great scenes.
“And these students have really become a team that has fun working together.”
Graduating students are: Josey Christmas, Tania Harvey, Janet Horwood, Brendon Lyoness, Lucy Quaglia, Scott Stephens, John Stevens, Charlene van Veen, and Don Wells. Tickets for “I Wanna Laugh” are $5 apiece, available at the door of the Town Hall Auditorium or online at www.stmaryscommunityplayers.ca.