Sunday, August 31, 2014
Improv Laughs on the Ave | Zocalo Magazine - Tucson Arts and Culture
Ever seen someone hit in the face by an imaginary pie or chased through an imaginary forest by an invisible flying purple people-eater? Well, neither have I, but if this sounds like something that could be your cup of, er, imaginary tea, a comedy show at the Tucson Improv Movement (TIM) is your perfect prescription. And come the middle of this month, a night of laughing your butt off will mean nothing more than an easy jaunt down 4th Avenue.
Though they are the youngest improv comedy troupe (and probably the youngest performance troupe in general) in Tucson, the TIM crew is rising quickly to the forefront of the local funny-folk scene, and their new location next to D&D Pinball on 7th Street promises them even more visibility — and more regular shows — than ever before.
TIM’s Producer and Founding Member Justin Lucasewicz came to Tucson in 2012 by way of North Carolina, where he performed and trained future cast members with a comedy group called DSI Theater. In October of that year he taught his first local improv class to a group of five students in the back room of Lotus Massage and Wellness Center (“so, lots of good jokes there,” he says) and by May of 2013, he and his first ensemble players were performing weekly shows and holding regular classes at the Red Barn Theater on North Main Street just south of Speedway. But, as enrollment in TIM’s workshops continued to increase, Lucasewicz and team saw that the small theater was not going to be able to meet their needs indefinitely.
“We’ve outgrown our digs at the Red Barn Theater,” says Lucasewicz. He explains that TIM has had to work around the schedule of the house performance troupe there, meaning severe limitations on the number of shows that the comedy troupe can put on, as well as limits to the availability if the space for teaching classes. The new space, he says, will allow TIM to bump the number of weekly performances from one to upwards of five right off the bat, and will also allow for much greater flexibility with respect to catering to improv students.
Since June, cast members have been working to get the new space ready (soundproofing the wall shared with the neighboring pinball arcade, building a stage, getting the lighting and sound systems up to snuff, painting) to prepare for their “Backers-Only” soft open on Saturday, Sept. 6, which will feature performances for the fans that contributed to their $10,000 Kickstarter Campaign toward renovations. The following Friday, though, performances will open to the public for the first time and needless to say, the TIM comedians are jazzed for the big day. Not only will TIM be the best (and, often, only) place to catch a live theatrical performance on 4th, but Lucasewicz says that being on the Avenue means that the crew is “getting a lot of really good buzz, which,” he asserts, “is cool.” Super cool.
If you’re looking to have your gut-busted on a Friday or Saturday night or are searching for a way to sharpen your funny bone, 4th Avenue is now officially Tucson’s primary proprietor of the world’s best medicine. No, I’m not talking about medical marijuana — I’m talking about laughter. And when it comes to that good stuff, I think we could all afford to up our dosage.
The new TIM location can be found at 329 E. 7th St. The grand opening is Saturday, Sept. 13. Showtimes and information on registering for improv classes are available at TucsonImprov.com.