Local funny folk fight it out in Family Feud format 

Whistler improvisers square off on Game Show Night, hosted by Vancouver TheatreSports League

click to enlarge PHOTO BY SUSAN HALL PHOTOGRAPHY - YUCK IT UP The Vancouver TheatreSports League returns to the Maury Young Arts Centre this Thursday, Jan. 25 to host a Family Feud-style improv battle between two teams of Whistler's funniest performers. Last year's local Vancouver TheatreSports show, "Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire," is pictured.
  • Photo by Susan Hall Photography
  • YUCK IT UP The Vancouver TheatreSports League returns to the Maury Young Arts Centre this Thursday, Jan. 25 to host a Family Feud-style improv battle between two teams of Whistler's funniest performers. Last year's local Vancouver TheatreSports show, "Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire," is pictured.

Survey says: laugh it up.

Eight of Whistler's funniest performers will square off in a Family Feud-style battle for comedic supremacy this week at the Maury Young Arts Centre. It won't be Steve Harvey hosting this punchline throwdown, however, but a team of improvisers from the renowned Vancouver TheatreSports League.

A B.C. institution, the Granville Island theatre and training centre has been splitting sides and delighting audiences going on three decades. But on Game Show Night, the Mainstage players will turn over the spotlight to Whistler's burgeoning theatre community. (A spokesperson for Vancouver TheatreSports was not available by deadline.)

Anyone familiar with the show should recognize the format: Two members from each team will be brought up to answer questions about life in Whistler. The twist, however, is that after each round, the losing side will have to improvise a scene alongside the TheatreSports crew. Hilarity ensues.

Given the entirety of the show will be off the cuff, there's not much in the way of pre-planning.

"I guess the improv strategy is... well, I don't have a strategy," admits Team 1 leader, actor and event producer Tara O'Doherty. "We're coming in to have a lot of fun."

Team 2 leader Kevin "Big Kev" Mikkelsen, a Family Feud fan dating back to the Richard Dawson years —  'ole' Mr. Dawson, he was the ultimate ladies man, that dude," he recalls — has learned a thing or two from watching the popular game show over the years.

"The deal is, if you don't know the answer, come up with a ridiculous answer," he explains.

Joining O'Doherty on Team 1 is local filmmaker and certified weirdo Jonny Fleet, Aussie performer and acting coach Louise Robinson, and actor, entrepreneur and Whistler Farmers Market manager Chris Quinlan.

Needless to say, O'Doherty likes her team's chances.

"They're strong. I'm very confident about this," she says. "Jonny Fleet, I mean, he's strong creatively. Louise, hilarious, a drama background. And then Quinny, well, you've met him — always ready to play, that guy."

Over on Team 2, Mikkelsen handpicked writer, director and Whistler's unofficial matron of the arts, Angie Nolan, comedian Brandon Smith, and actor and improviser Adam Snow to join his side.

"My strategy was to pick the best improvisers out there," Mikkelsen reveals. "You can't mess with Angie Nolan, Angie's a queen. And Smitty, that Brandon Smith kid, he's quite the quick wit and brings a lot of left-field stuff. Snowy, the same deal, he's a master at all he does."

This is the second time Arts Whistler has invited Vancouver TheatreSports to share the stage with the local community. Last February, the Mainstage players hosted "Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire," an R-Rated game of truth or dare starring Whistler royalty and outsized personality Princess Stephanie.

For Whistler's small but mighty improv community, the chance to share the stage with the seasoned performers from Vancouver TheatreSports was too good to pass up.

"We can only hope to gain experience from that," says O'Doherty. "They're a company that's been around for quite a long time, so they'll have everything polished.

"Certainly, we hope they can come back and we can all work together again."

Gaining valuable experience alongside some of the best improvisers in the country is all well and good, but this is a cutthroat completion after all, so let's hear some ole'-fashioned trash talk from the twisted mind of Big Kev.

"I wish my competitors the best of luck, and you probably won't be able to write this, but I have a vast wealth of bizarreness that I can pull out of my ass at any time," boasts the longtime Whistler Hardware store manager. "I feel I've got a super solid team, so I'm looking forward to taking a couple handles from the store here and just mopping the floor with Team O'Doherty."

Shots fired.

Game Show Night with Vancouver TheatreSports kicks off at 7:15 p.m. on Thursday. Jan. 25 with a cash bar and live music from foot-stompin' bluegrass band, The McQuaid Trio. There will also be a photo booth set up in the Arts Centre gallery for guests to strike a pose both pre- and post-show. The game show gets underway at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $15 in advance at artswhistler.tix.com or $20 at the door.

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