Arts and Entertainment

Lots of familiar faces to open comedy show

Vicki Robin, Erick Westphal, Marta Mulholland, Victoria Castle, Jim Carroll, Tony Caldwell, Martha Murphy, Erin Heldebrand, Kathryn Brooks and Michael Morgen comprise Comedy Island.  - Photo courtesy of Comedy Island
Vicki Robin, Erick Westphal, Marta Mulholland, Victoria Castle, Jim Carroll, Tony Caldwell, Martha Murphy, Erin Heldebrand, Kathryn Brooks and Michael Morgen comprise Comedy Island.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Comedy Island

Two of the Northwest’s biggest comedians come to Whidbey Island Center of the Arts for a one-night comedy show April 24, but a group of island originals may just steal the show.

Comedy Island, an adult improv group, is the opening act for the WICA comedy show featuring John Keister, of KING-TV’s Almost Alive, Brooks Smith of Mad TV, Comedy Central and Almost Live.

“We are the local spice for the Almost Live tour so they set the table, we’re just salt and pepper,” said cast member Vicki Robin. “Comedy Island is primarily an improv group which means we make scenes up from audience suggestions on the spot.”

The company came together in the spring of 2011 and has had a blast since, she said.

The recipe is simple. Actors are thrown in an unusual set-up and work their way through, stretching their acting abilities while ensuing hilarity.

“Drama arises from conflict,” she said. “Improv rides on actor’s ability to say yes to their scene partner. Actors need to attend to deepening their character. Improvers focus on making their scene partner look good.”

Robin said actors in plays bring to life someone else’s words, characters and situations.

“In improv the scene arises from whatever you can drag up from inside you,” she said. “We practice the skills of improv — say yes, create vivid characters and locations, develop a narrative — but we have no idea what will happen till it happens. We are constantly surprised and keep saying yes and go for the ride.”

Her fellow company members agree.

Company member Marta Mulholland said it is a great opportunity for islanders to see improv.

“I love that it is always new,” she said. “Audiences always see something that’s never been done before.”

The group includes many familiar faces. The improv, sketch and stand-up troupe consists of Robin, Erick Westphal, Mulholland, Victoria Castle, Jim Carroll, Tony Caldwell, Martha Murphy, Erin Heldebrand, Kathryn Brooks, and Michael Morgen, who have become an in-tuned team.

“You’ve got to be tight as a group,” Mulholland said. “Our commitment to the group is huge. You have to feel safe to put yourself out there.”

Still, such is the nature of improv theater, actors never know what to expect.

“We surprise each other all the time,” Mulholland said.

Robin said viewers can’t go wrong with Comedy Island.

“We are all funny. We crack each other up regularly,” Robin said. “We love one another’s amazing improv choices. We work as a troupe, not as individual stars. We’ve stuck with it for two years. It’s a big scary risk to step out on stage with nothing but a scene partner and a minimal game structure; you develop a lot of trust.”

Keith Mack will emcee the evening.

Meet and greet Keister and McBeth at Mo’s Pub in Langley from 5:30 from 6:30 p.m., and in the WICA lobby following the show.

The show will start 7 p.m.

For tickets, call the WICA Box Office 360-221-8268 or www.wicaonline.com.

Tickets cost $20. For this show, advanced tickets highly recommended. Adult content; age 18 and over.

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