As a door opens on a new fall season we take a look at what’s to come.
Creating something out of nothing has never been an easy task. Yet for over six years now, Shut The Front Door Improv has done exactly that with their brand of silly and irreverent improv comedy. Recently, I had a chance to chat with STFD’s Artistic Director Brandon Rudd about this past summer, his present perspective on this upcoming season, and the direction that Shut The Front Door will be heading in the future.
PT: From the photos we’ve seen from your social media this summer, it looks like you guys are having some fun on the rooftop at the YOU Made It Cafe. All in all how has the summer been going for the Shut The Front Door Improv family?
BR: What a summer it has been! Three consecutive sellouts of our Rooftop shows, our Open Doors Adult Camp in June was sold out a month in advance and attended by campers from Sarnia, Waterloo, Barrie and even Ottawa! Summer was capped off with fun shows in Port Burwell and the London Public Library’s Get Caught Reading event for teens and tweens. So it was a great summer for sure!
Since the shows are happening outdoors, are there any challenges that comes with playing an outdoor venue as opposed to an indoor venue? Has mother nature or Downtown London in all of it’s colourful glory made for any memorable moments during these shows?
For sure. We have been fortunate to have only ever been rained out once in three years. So mother nature must love improv. I always get nervous the day before/day of the show when it comes to weather. The You Made It Café staff were great at working with us if any changes were needed.
September is fast approaching. What can we expect from Shut The Front Door, Off The Hinges, and Hard To Handle this fall? What new and exciting changes will we see?
This season, we are focusing on raising funds for us to have a venue here in London. Proceeds from our shows this season will be going to our venue fund so we can have a permanent residence in our awesome city.
We had some departures and additions since last season and we formed a mega group named DoorPlay comprised of members of Off The Hinges and Hard To Handle. Both our house team and DoorPlay troupes will be performing at our monthly Friday night shows at the London Music Club. Best part is our audience will be getting much more value at our shows as they can now enjoy both long and short form improv.
We are also excited to have our pianist Hubert Orlowski back for another season. He is absolute magic on the keys and adds another dimension to our shows.
In our previous chats, we’ve talked about the importance of London’s comedy future. In the next little while, Shut The Front Door will start running Tween & Teen training classes and drop-in sessions. What do you hope the young people come away with from these improv learning experiences?
The thing we recognize is that there’s so much talent in the city and we think that talent is at all ages. I just remember how much I wished improv was available to me earlier in life and want to make sure that’s not happening today.Getting our youth involved earlier just makes sense, so we want to give them an outlet to learn and enjoy improv. You never know, one day we may have an all teen troupe or two under STFD.
Speaking of London’s comedy future, in some interviews leading up to these outdoor shows, you briefly talked about Shut The Front Door’s need to find a permanent home for training and shows. What are some of the key factors that led to the need for this search? Is a central location (i.e. Downtown or Old East Village) necessary for its success? Also, what can we expect this space to be modeled after? Is it going to be more of a theatre type space (Second City In Toronto/Go Comedy! Improv Theater in Detroit) or more of an informal intimate space like (The Making Box in Guelph or Comedy Bar in Toronto)?
Great Question! We are so proud to be part of London’s culture and arts communities. We are so interested in investing in our city and are excited to have a place to call our own. The vision for the location would need to be accessible to all areas of the city. We want it to be a positive pillar to the neighbourhood and a place big enough to accommodate our needs, but small enough to feel welcoming.
We want the facility to be attractive to comedy, theatre and musician’s alike. I think it would be mix of Comedy Bar in Toronto and the community feel that I get when at Go! Comedy in Michigan. All will really have to depend on what’s available and the location.
One Last Question……
You’ve spent a lot of time doing Improv Drop-Ins during you’re time with Shut The Front Door. What’s the funniest thing you’ve bared witness to during one of these sessions?
Over the years there have been some great moments at drop ins. Most of the time you have participants who are a bit timid at the beginning. I remember someone came in with their own nickname for themselves and had like their own tagline too. I think at one point they might have tried to start a rally chant. It was fine until we tried to do focus games and then it all went downhill from there for this participant.