General Fools Festival: Who’s There

As you might notice over at the General Fools’ website, their third annual improv festival has a whole bunch of people coming in from out of town to perform.

Unless you’re following the international improv scene, you might not be familiar with everyone who’s coming in. When I sat down with General Fool Jayden Pfeifer to talk about the festival, he told me about some of the companies and guests who’d be around for the four-day festival.

4TRACK
NEW YORK CITY, N.Y.

“They are like high impact, high stakes, big characters, bold offers – they’re so committed. There’s no hint of malaise or being coy. They are full force committed to what they do. They’re very gifted improvisers.

“The thing I love about them is that they are a very tight ensemble. They feed off each other so well.”

NATIONAL THEATRE OF THE WORLD
TORONTO, ON

“[They’re] a really great example of improv artists as legitimate theatre artists. All of them are also very successful actors in theatre and film and television and commercials. They all believe that improv is theatre.

“They’re producing a couple of shows; they’ll be doing two shows here for us that they’ll be running. One is called Impromptu Splendor, where they improvise in the style of famous playwrights. So they choose a playwright, study their work, come up with an understanding in the group of, ‘Here are the things this playwright would do if pressed in certain scenarios.’ Not stock story lines, but tendencies of theme or character choices or whatever, and then they do a run, like a play, where every night they do a Mamet play or a Woody Allen play or a Tennessee Williams play, all steeped in the genre.

“The other thing they’re going to produce for us is The Carnegie Hall Show. The show is set at Carnegie Hall, and has a very, sort-of Rat Pack feel to it. Men in tuxedos or suits, women in gowns, and you’re there to give the performance of your life. All of us, the performers in the show, are performing the greatest scenes from improv history. You’re looking back at all the best scenes ever performed, and it’s as if you’re looking back at scenes everyone knows and you’re just now recreating it, but it’s all improvised.”

PAT AND PETE
VANCOUVER, B.C. AND LOS ANGELES, CA

“They’re the hosts and creators of the CBC show, This Is That, which is a fake news show. They broadcast fake news stories and make it sound like it’s real and they get complaint letters about the stories because people believe them. They call in like, ‘I can’t believe that happened,’ but it’s all false.

“They are a hyper-gifted, hyper gifted duo. They just live in each other’s minds. They do really amazing two-person scene work. And it’s not one scene for the whole show; they do a variety of story lines that come back, in and out, kinda weave into each other.

“They’re kinda mesmerizing to watch as a duo, like sometimes, they’ll get to the end of a scene, and I’ll be like, ‘I don’t even know what happened in the last five minutes, but I think it was my favourite scene that I’ve ever watched.'”

ADDITIONAL GUESTS
“Our guests are Ken Lawson from Vancouver, who’s a Vancouver Theatre Sports regular, who all of us have known for six or seven years, and Kayla Lorette, who’s from Toronto, who I think I’ve known since she was fifteen years old and who is probably now one of the best improvisers in Canada. She’s just incredible.”

The General Fools Festival runs from Wednesday, June 15 to Saturday, June 18 at the Artesian. More information can be found at their website. Pfeifer’s variety show, Red Hot Riot, is also running at the Artesian on Sunday, June 19.

Author: James Brotheridge

Contributing Editor with Prairie Dog.