Underperforming Impatient Theatre Company has been shown the door at the Bloor Street laugh spot.
Bad Dog Theatre looks to be getting back on its paws and, starting next month, will take up residence at Comedy Bar—coming in from the cold after a year of homelessness.
The company, which has wandered from venue to venue since losing its storefront space on the Danforth last February, will take over improv training at Comedy Bar on Tuesdays and Wednesdays while staging more audience-ready shows elsewhere on the calendar, including its signature Theatresports strand on Saturdays.
“For a long time it’s been weighing on me that, once the show schedule was solid, that I’d have to get a training centre type of program,” says Comedy Bar boss Gary Rideout Jr., referring to a mandate similar to those of Second City, iO in Chicago and the Upright Citzens Brigade in New York.
A new cabaret from the troupe Sex T-Rex, Darryl Pring‘s musical competition Troubadour and No Shit Sherlock, an unscripted take on the famed detective, will follow in the coming weeks and months.
It’s good news for the Bad Dog gang, not so good for the improv-ers at Impatient Theatre Company who have called the Bloor Street laughspot home for the last two years.
Now ITC is the homeless one, but for its rehearsal space at Queen and Roncesvalles, and artistic director Kevin Patrick Robbins is understood to be pretty honked off, complaining in an email to his members that Bad Dog had run his company off the road. (ITC and Robbins did not return calls for comment on this story.)
But to comedy-watchers, it’s been clear for some time that ITC wasn’t fitting in at Comedy Bar. The company has a thorough training program, a fine hive mind for improv formats and has turned out some primo performers, including Sean Tabares. But it does little to put bums on seats. ITC shows go almost un-promoted (Facebook updates don’t count, folks) and draw thin crowds—not the sort of situation that would sit well with a business-minded showman like Rideout.
ITC often seems like the earnest, inward-looking outsider amid the city’s more boisterous companies.
Rideout, who is also a member of the Sketchersons troupe, speaks highly of ITC but warns that the city’s improv community has, in general, become moribund. “I’ve not seen huge evolution in the last little while. It seems like we see a lot of the same players in a lot of the same shows,” he says. “We need to find the next generation of performers that will inspire the next generation of audiences.”
He and Bad Dog artistic director Julie Dumais share an appreciation of crowds and cash. Now that her company is no longer “pouring it into real estate,” Dumais hopes the resurgent company can instead pay out to its performers. “That’s how we’re going to build an entertainment economy,” she says, one in which audiences choose improv as an option.