The nattily dressed, clever and critically acclaimed comedy sketch trio Blackout Broadcast rarely has a suitable place to perform in Vancouver, says producer Alistair Cook. He's pleased to offer them a venue with a new comedy series called East Van Comedy that starts on Commercial Drive, Jan. 8.
Starting this week, Vancouver's improv, sketch, standup and comedic literary groups will animate the 60-seat theatre at the back of the Havana restaurant Sunday and Monday nights in co-production with Instant Theatre and Havana Enterprises.
Entry to most East Van Comedy shows will include a discount for those who produce a receipt for their Cuban meal. Admission will range from $5 to $10.
"Having the opportunity to work in a real performance space with seats directly focused at the work on stage, a large space, is something that's unique and really of interest to many of the performers in Vancouver," said Cook who's been producing shows at Havana since it opened 15 years ago.
He adds that affordable performance spaces for standup comedy and improv shows tend to be restaurants and are thus relegated to small makeshift stages, making Havana's backroom space particularly enticing for more theatrical acts. "It creates a totally different energy for both the audience and the performers."
Blackout Broadcast, which performs rapid-fire political satire and commercial parodies with old-time radio flair, kicks off the series Jan. 8.
Ghost Jail Theatre, an improvised comedy show, performs Jan. 9.
Cook's own Instant Theatre Company will hit the intimate stage along with Furious Anger Fun Hour and Say Wha?! Readings of Deliciously Rotten Writing later in the month, and Graham Clark's Laugh Gallery returns to the Drive at the Havana Theatre, Jan. 23.
"There were huge cheers at the New Years show from the audience [at the Cambrian Hall] who were so excited to hear that it was going back on at least a monthly basis," Cook said of Clark's beloved comedy show.
Cook is also looking forward to Dylan Rhymer extending his State of the Week political satire blog into a State of the Month show, similar to The Daily Show, at Havana Theatre in February. (Rhymer is one-third of Blackout Broadcast).
Cook, founder of the long-running Vancouver International Improv Festival and national president of the Canadian Improv Games, says he's encouraged by the success of the Comedy Bar in Toronto, a resto-bar with two attached venues that's a destination for independent comedy.
"We're really trying to create a destination for the community that already exists," he said.
For more information, see eastvancomedy.com. Shows start at 8 p.m. or 8: 30 at 1212 Commercial Dr. and typically last 90 minutes.
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