Improv troupes launch new Vancouver comedy school

The Sunday Service and Hip!Bang troupes

The Sunday Service and Hip.Bang! troupes

Watch out Toronto and LA, there’s a new comedy school kid on the block.

Los Angeles has The Groundlings. Toronto, Chicago and Hollywood have Second City. Seattle has Unexpected Productions Improv School. And now Vancouver has the Blind Tiger Comedy.

Preceded by the well-established Vancouver Theatre Sports League and Instant Theatre, Blind Tiger is a brand new school set to launch this month. It’s the brainchild of two local comedy troupes: the Sunday Service and Hip.Bang!.

“Vancouver launched Seth Rogen, Brent Butt, Colin Mochrie, and Ryan Stiles. People think the only Canadian comedy scene is Toronto, but Vancouver is becoming a very big contender,” says Caitlin Howden, a Blind Tiger founder and Second City Alumni. Howden belongs to the Sunday Service, an improv group who recently won Best Improv Troupe at the 2012 Canadian Comedy Awards.

Named after the prohibition-era nickname for an underground bar or speakeasy, Blind Tiger Comedy will be housed in Mount Pleasant at Little Mountain Gallery. According to one of the instructors and founders, Taz VanRassel, finding consensus amongst six funny and opinionated founders (Ryan Beil, Tom Hill, Caitlin Howden, Devin Mackenzie, Aaron Read, and Taz VanRassel) for the school’s name was a bit tricky.
When someone suggested either Blind Tiger or Blind Pig because they both connoted an underground vibe of the prohibition days, the founders were finally able to agree: they’re definitely feline than porcine.

Blind Tiger Comedy will be all-encompassing comedy school that offers a range of courses for all levels. Blind Tiger is modeled after New York’s Upright Citizens Brigade (Amy Poehler, Aziz Ansari, Scott Adsit), as well as The Second City (Tina Fey, Steve Carrell, SCTV).

The Blind Tiger gang will host a launch party at Little Mountain Studios on December 13. What better way to introduce the school than with a class? From 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. 15-year veteran VanRassel will teach a free drop-in improv class called ‘Steal this Workshop/Don’t be a Liar’.

VanRassel’s class focuses on helping students channel their life experience and knowledge and translate it into belly laughs.

“I’m a big believer that you’re only as smart as you are in a scene. For example, I know a lot of about bus drivers and transit routes because my dad was a bus driver. So I use this info and incorporate it into a lot of my improv,” explains VanRassel. “I’m really interested in the everyday, making the minutiae of life funny and relatable.”

The best part of the December 13 class and all future comedy classes is that students will be able to use their new skills immediately. After each class, students can put their freshly-learned techniques and skills on stage at Little Mountain, performing with instructors.

Other Blind Tiger classes will include Improv to Sketch Writing, Stand Up and specialty classes like Audition Technique and Improv for Actors. Classes are slated to start early in 2014. Folks can find out more details about class registration, timing, etc on Blind Tiger’s webpage.
Check out the Blind Tiger Launch Party at Little Mountain Gallery, 165 East 26th Avenue: workshop from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m., Sunday Service and Hip.Bang! Performances start at 9:00 p.m. Cost: $5.


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