If you like your improv comedy served with a side order of moobs and dad bods, The Comic Strippers have just what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for fit, greased up Aussie dudes… not so much.
A shirtless pack of veterans of the Canadian comedy scene, The Comic Strippers are the brainchild of Roman Danylo – otherwise known for Comedy Inc, guest spots on Corner Gas and Made in Canada, and Just for Laughs.
“The idea originally came from a ‘eureka’ moment, if you will, when my wife came home from a real male stripper show,” Danylo explained. “She was talking about how packed it was in there and how everybody was crazy in there and I thought ‘well, we’ve got torsos, we can do that’.”
Danylo said he always has an eye open for a genre to mine, but the fact that strippers are already on stage and the fact that no one had done it yet made it an appealing concept. The fact that he and his friends are of “average” builds only added to the irony.
“I kind of thought right away ‘oh, that’s got some legs I think’,” Danylo said. “I was first quite surprised about how many of my friends, improv buddies, agreed to do it.”
“I can confidently say this is the funniest show I’ve ever done,” said Danylo.
He still finds it surprising just how quickly his improv peers took to the idea, to say nothing of how quickly the troupe found an audience who not only got the joke but found it hysterical.
“Both were surprisingly easy,” Danylo said. “I really thought some of the guys would be a little bit more self-conscious about the concept but everybody seemed to like the adventure.”
That adventure has taken them across Canada, earned them a spot in Australia’s Adelaide Fringe Festival and lets them keep out of the cold during winter tours in the American south.
Danylo said there was “a lot of giddiness” among the performers about the toplessness in the early days of the act, but after the troupe was stuck in a hotel hallway sans shirts before a corporate event, they learned to let go of such hang ups.
“We’re just dudes with our average bodies,” Danylo said. “Some of us have what we call ‘comedy bodies’. We’re just working with what we’ve got and whatever fitness level we happen to have.”
What they also happen to have is a unique framework to springboard live improvised comedy with a couple of different layers to it.
“The story is,” Danylo said, “essentially, we’re a fictitious male stripper troupe that’s been doing this for perhaps too long and are now demanding some more respect by trying a different type of entertainment, so they endeavour to try some improv comedy.”
Put another way, it’s a pack of improv comedians pretending to be strippers who in turn are trying to be improvisers attempting to take on whatever role their stripper-inspired improv games take them. Depending on your method of counting, this means that for even the simplest of sketches each comedian could be three characters deep in their performance.
As for those strippered uptakes on improv games, expect shower scenes, table dance scenes “and something with ping pong balls you’ll have to believe.”
Anyone expecting male nudity, Danylo said, will be disappointed but anyone worried about seeing an oily, hairy butt “in a gross thong” will be relieved.
“At its core it’s essentially a shirtless Whose Line is it Anyway? with goofy dancing thrown in,” Danylo explained. “If you’re expecting a real male stripper show, this is not the show for you.”
The Comic Strippers – Roman Danylo, Ken Lawson, Chris Casillan and Michael Teigen – will be stripping it up in an improvised manner at the deCoste Centre on October 20. Adults only, but all genders welcome.