“Comic Strippers” improv show a cheeky take-off on male stripping

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Improv comedians are trained to take whatever idea is thrown their way, say “yes” to it, and then take it to the next level. So when comedian and actor Roman Danylo turned to his buddies from Vancouver TheatreSports a couple of years ago and suggested they do an improv stage show as male strippers, the guys all said sure.

Actually, in improv parlance, “The Comic Strippers” member Ken Lawson tells Vancouver Is Awesome via telephone, the group “Yes, and-ed the shit out of it.”

comic strippers improv
Photo courtesy The Comic Strippers

“The Comic Strippers” is a touring improv show in which the core characters, as played by Danylo, Lawson, and colleagues David Milchard, Chris Casillan, and Pearce Visser, are a troupe of aging pro strippers bringing a new guy into the group.

Combining improv styles like the more narrative long-form and the short games audiences know from VTS matches or TV’s Whose Line is it Anyway?, The Comic Strippers has been sending up male stripping all over the world, and now the Vancouver-based group is prepping their first shows in Vancouver proper on their latest tour.

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Lawson says this “one in a million show” is all about “taking the piss out of the whole BS stripper macho thing.”

“It’s very liberating–here I am flaunting around the world in spandex pants and no shirt on,” jokes Lawson.

Of course, most improv performers don’t fear looking ridiculous, and this is certainly the case here, though there is no actual nudity in the show. During the performance, in addition to the improvised scenes based on audience suggestion, the Strippers work in choreographed dance numbers.

No wonder, then, that Lawson–a musician himself–likens the show and his experience as being very rock and roll, and like “the KISS of comedy.” A little over the top on stage, met with screaming adoration from the audience.

comic strippers improv
Photo courtesy The Comic Strippers

Audiences for this night of “silly good fun” tend to skew female, from university-aged women to the occasional nonagenarian–sometimes all in the same family for a multigenerational evening out.

Lawson says the show is 19+ but while they toe the blue line and drop the odd swear word, it’s not raunchy–in fact, the performer attests, the audience tends to shout out raunchier stuff than the improvisers say.

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For the Vancouver-based troupe of busy working actors, it’s a thrill to do the show anywhere, but a particular joy to be putting “The Comic Strippers” on stage all over Metro Vancouver.

“Our jobs are bringing joy to people,” says Lawson. “The biggest compliment we get is that someone’s face hurts from 90 minutes of constant smiling and laughing.”

“The Comic Strippers” tour has the following Metro Vancouver stops:

January 26: North Vancouver, Centennial Theatre
January 27: Maple Ridge, ACT Arts Centre
February 3: Vancouver, the Cultch York Theatre
February 9: Surrey, Bell Performing Arts Centre
February 10:  Burnaby, Shadbolt Centre

Tickets available via each venue.