As you may or may not know, the Vancouver comedy scene has been quietly expanding beyond the edge of the TheaterSports stage for many years now with independant troops popping up at different venues all over the city. Standup, sketch, improv, and every other genre of comedy are all hitting their strides within the growing scene.
Starting this Tuesday, January 5th, we’re excited to welcome Matterhorn Improv as they begin a new monthly residence on the Fortune Sound Club stage! After three years of captivating Vancouver’s comedy venues and festivals with their unique brand of improv, Matterhorn is ready to take their next step towards comedy greatness.
Below we had a chance to chat with the four members of Matterhorn Improv to talk about everything from how they all first met each other to their thoughts on Vancouver’s current comedy scene in advance of their first show at Fortune Sound Club.
Cameron MacLeod: My name is Cameron MacLeod, I’m the one with the full-time beard and I have a lot of experience producing live shows.
Andrew Barber: I’m Andrew Barber, I’m the guy that originally picked up the phone and harassed Cam and Brian to come and do an improv set with me.
Brian Cook: I’m Brian Cook. I’m the one with the jaw-line.
Scott Patey: I’m Scott Patey the newest member of Matterhorn (joined August 2015). I’m the handsome/funny one.
C: I did improv for the first time in grade 9 drama class; I made a joke about cleaning my teeth with a toothbrush covered in dirt and made all my classmates laugh. I was hooked.
A: I always thought I was terrible at improv. I made a few attempts with friends growing up that always went very poorly. It wasn’t until age 23, after finishing a theatre program, that my girlfriend suggested I take a class at Vancouver TheatreSports. It was the right decision. Thanks Lisa!
B: I grew up in a funny household, no professional’s mind you, so I always had a knack for the gab; the gift of wit. It was in high school, however, that I discovered improv. I didn’t make the school team on my first audition, but by the 10th grade I was the captain of the team where we did shows across town in different theatres and travelled to festivals.
S: Drama 10 in High School; we did an improv unit. A few classmates and myself got to make the rest of the class laugh. I enjoyed it much more than memorizing lines for a play.
B: I don’t remember how I met Andrew, but I’ll assume it was at the China Cloud or Rowan’s Roof. Scott I met over sushi and cookies with a mutual (Jewish) friend.
I’ll never forget meeting Cam… It was the first show I had seen in town since moving here from Toronto six years ago. He came out to [a] R Kelly [song] wearing only boxers and a silk kimono, put sushi on his chest and filled his belly button with soya sauce, and non-verbally invited people up to dine off of him. Two girls came up, ate the sushi, and proceeded to make out over top of him (it wasn’t until years late I found out this was non-planned). I announced on the spot that I was, “going to be friends with that guy!” I’m proud to say that today he is one of my closest and best. Along with the other two idiots.
S: Brian and I lived near each other in Kitsilano and had mutual friends. I had just been called up to the Vancouver TheatreSports main stage and hosted a few rookie league shows which Brian was a part of at the time. I thought he was very funny and we hit it off. We both had gotten out of long-term relationships and started partying and performing together ever since.
C: I’m pretty sure I met everyone through past comedy projects and shows. When someone can make you laugh your ass off, you usually want to work with them.
B: Because you don’t have to memorize anything!
A: I pursue many forms of comedy including live sketch and video sketch, but improv is so much easier to access as a performer. You can go and do a show almost any night of the week and just leave it all on the stage. It’s an instant fix for a comedy junky.
C: We’re all involved in many forms of comedy from stand up, to sketch and video sketch, to hosting live events, producing, directing, and script writing. Improv is that one form of comedy that makes you better at all of the other ones.
A: We used to do a scene every show where we would start screaming right of the top and then escalate to… even more screaming. It always got great reactions.
S: With Cam and I, it has to be the infamous “Limo Scene” where Andrew was playing guitar and narrating while we ended up with our shirts off and falling in love with each other.
I’ve also gotten to share the experience of playing with Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie on separate occasions with Andrew. I’ll never forget those experiences; they’re the current highlights of my improv career.
B: The coolest thing about the comedy scene here is that everyone is welcome! Stand up comics, sketch writers, producers, directors, and improvisers are all connected. It makes it possible to become a crossover artist, like we all are.
S: It’s a hustle! There is more talent in this city then we know what to do with but in my opinion a lot of it isn’t getting the proper attention. There’s amazing improv, sketch, and stand-up pros and amateur up and comers; then there’s a lot of hobbyists, which is fine. People are all doing it for different reasons and for the most part it’s a very supportive community. There’s a lot of potential here and we keep building on our audiences which is exciting.
C: The comedy scene is Vancouver has grown a ton in the past 10 years and improv, sketch, and stand up has never seen so much cross over before. You can find at least 3 independently run shows a night these days on top of the regular gigs like Comedy Mix, Yuk Yuks and VTSL. Also, now there are three comedy schools in town that are all busy with classes in improv, sketch and stand up that are fully booked.
B: There are a lot of old jokes and gags on improv, it’s true. We kind of get the reputation of the red-headed step child of comedy. Lorne Michaels apparently hates it, but what does he know?
The truth is that the “rules” of saying YES over NO etc. are there for a reason. The same reason that you have to check over your shoulder when you do your driver’s license check, but I know a lot of drivers who don’t after having their license for years. It’s just good basic practice. Saying yes allows the scene and the characters to go to new places, do new things. Just imagine where you’d be in real life if you said YES to everything instead of NO.
S: I haven’t heard too much about that. I’m not sure if Matterhorn has any rules. The biggest tradition we want to maintain is entertaining our audiences on a consistent basis.
Images by: Ryan Walter Wagner
Catch the debut of Matterhorn Improv at Fortune Tuesday January 5th with special guests The Sunday Service. Tickets and more info HERE.