Sunday, October 21, 2018

Local Entertainment

Improv, stand-up comedians to share tales of 'Bad Roommates'

Event will take place July 26 at The Plus

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    Josh Ingersoll, left, and Amber Dernbach, middle, practice for Eau Claire Improv Fest April 3 at Dernbach’s Eau Claire home. Kyle Roble, back right, plays the piano in response to their actions. The three will perform improv during “Bad Roommates” at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, July 26, at The Plus, 208 S. Barstow St.

    Staff photo by Katy Macek
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    Members of Clear Water Comedy’s stand up comedy group will partner with improv comedians to put on “Bad Roommates” at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, July 26, at The Plus, 208 S. Barstow St.

    Contributed photo

Between college dorm rooms and finding housing through Craigslist, few things ignite a conversation quicker than bad roommates.

At least, local stand-up comedian Cullen Ryan has found that to be true. 

“If we’re sitting at a party, this is a topic that would come up, and everyone would have a story to tell,” Ryan said. “If someone says, ‘I used to have the worst roommate ever,’ you’re going to want to know more.”

And if you come to The Plus Thursday, July 26, you can do more than hear all the bad roommate stories your heart desires. 

Hoping to ignite collaboration as well as conversation, members of the stand-up comedian group Clear Water Comedy are partnering with local improv comedians to present “Bad Roommates: An Improv & Stand-up Show” at 8:30 p.m. July 26 in the back room of The Plus, 208 S. Barstow St. 

 Whereas stand-up comedians such as Ryan write their jokes ahead of time and practice honing them in front of different audiences, improv comedy involves making up actions and stories on the spot. In the case of “Bad Roommates,” Ryan said the improv actors will respond to the stories the stand-up comedians tell on stage.

“So the improvisers aren’t going to know anything ahead of time,” he said.

Both forms of comedy offer a plethora of laughs, but Ryan said they often draw a different type of crowd. That’s why he is excited to collaborate with them. 

“It’s fun to reach out to a different group of people to see you perform,” Ryan said. “The improvisers we have coming to the show are incredibly talented, so getting to work with them is really exciting.” 

The improv actors and actresses for this show include Josh Ingersoll and Amber Dernbach, who both practice with Eau Claire Improv Company. They will be joined by Mack Hastings and Alex Raney, who perform with Glassworks Improv out of Minneapolis. 

In addition to those, Ryan said, “there are probably going to be some surprises too.” 

Kyle Roble also will be joining the team as a keyboard improviser. He will create mood-setting music on the spot, based off of what the improv actors are doing. 

“In this sense, we’ve got a triple-layer collaboration cake: stand up, improv and music,” Dernbach said. “I’m so excited to be part of expanding the boundaries of local comedy with stand-ups and improvisers sharing the stage. Just like with any art form, it’s important to keep innovating.” 

Even though they don’t collaborate as often as they’d like, she said bringing these two groups of comedians together should make for quite the show. She added part of the experience will be for the audience members in viewing and responding to what is happening on stage. In other words, it’s an inclusive process. 

“While we may rehearse for performances differently, Eau Claire stand-ups and improvisers have always shared the same core tenet of comedy as community building,” Dernbach said. “It’s a shared creative experience for everyone involved — including the audience.” 

Plus, there will be plenty of hilarious roommates stories to go around. Ryan said audiences should come prepared to laugh, but who knows? There might even be moments to take to heart. 

“It’s going to have all these things that make up a great show,” he said. “It’s going to be surprising, funny and probably a little bit heartwarming.” 

Contact reporter: 715-833-9214,, @KatherineMacek on Twitter


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