Jan. 11 kicked off the first Fools Play Improv of 2020 at the Tacoma Little Theater. The group — which was founded in 1993 — has traveled around parts of western Washington and has since settled into renting out the Tacoma Little Theater on the second Saturday of each month.
Providing 20–40 minute long-form improvised stories — versus short-form performances that are generally associated with this side of comedy — the Fools Play Tacoma group offers a twist on the traditional and most commonly utilized form of improv.
Long-time performer and host of the evening, Josh Hird, describes this form as “an improvised play.”
“You get much more of a payoff from these stories. We try to be funny and tell a story that has layers and depth to it with characters that have more than one side to them,” Hird said. When asked why they chose to explore the non-traditional side of improv, Hird responded, “For us, it’s way more challenging and it’s more fun. We all love short form, there’s nothing wrong with it, this is just what we’ve decided we really want to give to Tacoma.”
Each show runs for about an hour and a half. The first half of the evening’s performance stems from a random word provided by a lucky audience member, from which the group then creates a story and will carry it out until intermission. Once the crowd returns to their seats the other half of the show begins and a second story commences, but this time not in correlation with audience participation.
What sets improv apart from other forms of live performance is its element of surprise; the fact that no two shows will ever mirror each other and new stories are guaranteed every time content is produced. “You get to see something created on the spot that you know is brand new, you know you’re never going to see it again. That’s what makes improv so great,” Hird said.
Hird, who has been a supporter of the improv group since high school and a performer for years now, discussed the impact the Fools Play Improv group and being a part of the local arts community has had on his life.
“Something that people don’t really get is that improv is a way to connect with local people and really get to know them,” he said. “That’s what drew me to improv. Going to Fools Play weekly when I was in high school and getting to know the cast and regulars that would show up weekly. It, in a way, became a chosen family that really worked for me.”
With this being said, Hird and his chosen family will make their next appearance at The Tacoma Little Theater on Feb. 15. The show begins at 8 p.m. and tickets cost $10.
To anyone who’s never experienced an improv performance before, Hird recommends it to anyone who seeks to watch others’ creativity flow in motion. Fools Play Improv and their one of a kind comical stories, the chance to connect with others, and express support for your local arts community is an opportunity not to be missed.