Gulf Islands Driftwood
Voice of the Southern Gulf Islands

Parody and improv comedy show at ArtSpring

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The award-winning comedy show called The Comic Strippers is back for another ArtSpring performance on Saturday, Nov. 4 after touring most of Canada and parts of the U.S. during the past year.

A sold-out crowd met The Comic Strippers for their first appearance on the island in November 2016, and the experience was so good they’re back for more. As return guests they’ll be offering a different variation on the show, which nestles standard improv routines into an outrageously entertaining scenario in which regular men play male dancers, complete with shirtless torsos, tight pants and purple bowties.

The fictitious male stripper troupe is played by an ensemble of some of Canada’s best improvisational comedians. Led by Vancouver’s Roman Danylo, they’ve created a one-of-a-kind “sexylarious” improv show.

“Semi undressed and completely unscripted, The Comic Strippers take off their shirts and take on your suggestions to create a whole new genre of comedy,” promotional material promises. Or as Danylo sums it up: “It’s essentially a shirtless Whose Line Is It Anyway?, with a lot of goofy dancing in between.”

While all the members have solo professional careers to attend to between dates, The Comic Strippers is something they can’t help returning to. Danylo said the Strippers have organized their current tour based on places they wanta to go or go back to, which includes Salt Spring.

“The really fun thing to do is getting away for a live show, especially at theatres like you have with ArtSpring,” Danylo said. “That’s kind of the Holy Grail.”

Audience members who attended the troupe’s first visit to the island can attest the evening was the kind where your face actually starts hurting halfway through the night because you are laughing that hard. The 2.0 version will include some new-to-us acts, such as an original boy band song-and-dance number.

The male strip show device proves a highly entertaining frame for improv games, in which audience members suggest the ideas that go into creating a sketch. Last year the troupe hilariously attempted to tackle the theme of “incorporation” (without coming close to the local political meaning) and had a running gag around buying fresh fish at the dock, with the same dialogue or set-up done in various different styles throughout the evening. The bleak French movie version was my favourite, with the fisherman and customer both wearily smoking their way through the transaction.

While women are the intended audience for the show within the show, men and anyone above the age of 19 who has a sense of humour will be equally entertained by the actual performance. There are no thongs involved, and certainly no Full Monty. The parts that do involve stripping tend to emphasize the shortcomings of the comedians’ physiques.

“Don’t worry, this is definitely a parody of male strippers,” Danylo tells men in the potential audience. “Some of the performers have what’s called ‘Comedy Bodies’ — they will make you look good by comparison.”

A large portion of the audience at last year’s show seemed to actually comprise bachelorette parties who really wanted to see hot male bods, but Danylo said most people are aware it’s a parody. They’re just happy to suspend belief during the show.

The show starts at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are available through ArtSpring.

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