General Fools Festival: Home Team

When an improv scene is going in a certain direction, General Fools member Jayden Pfeifer has a go-to move: play a lady.

“Improv often has a very male energy, because it’s loud and in your face and depending on the show can be aggressive,” he says. “Whenever shows get that way, my instinct is, ‘I’m going to temper that a bit,’ and I automatically make myself into a very calm female character to corral this aggressive energy a bit.”

And conveniently, I note, he doesn’t need to put on a dress or anything to do it.

“No sir, I just do this,” says Pfeifer, taking on his ladylike mannerisms. “This is my girl touchstone. I just hold the inside of my t-shirt, play with my neckline a bit. That’s how I create a girl onstage, almost every time.”

You know, Pfeifer plays a good lady. Of course, by now, all the members of the General Fools have been performing for a while and know all the tricks to balancing an improv set. The group formed in Regina back in 1997 and started the General Fools Festival 12 years later.

These days, the members are scattered across Canada but, according to Pfeifer, they fall back into it quickly when they get back together. Not before getting some stupid out of their systems, though.

“Our first rehearsal back after not seeing each other each other for a while is the stupidest thing you’ve ever seen,” says Pfeifer. “The stupidest characters, the stupidest scenes. No attention to quality. It’s all to make the other people laugh.”

The way he describes it, it’s a lot like seeing a friend you haven’t seen in a while. “The first conversation you have is loud and fast because you feel like you really have to catch up. When that’s done, you can relax a bit.”

When they get up in front of an audience, they bring it back into balance.

“I want it to be crazy. I want to be doing ridiculous Dungeons and Dragons scenes or apocalyptic robots, and then I want to do something genre based, and then I want to do something more slow and sincere. We try really hard as a company to play with the pace of things. Improvisation is all storytelling, but we don’t want to nail down what we do.”

The General Fools perform at the festival on Thursday, June 7, as well as part of the festival ensemble. The General Fools Festival runs from today, June 6 to Saturday, June 9, all at Artesian on 13th. For more information, go to their website and check back on the Dog Blog.

Author: James Brotheridge

Contributing Editor with Prairie Dog.