ST. LOUIS — Rafe Williams would like you to wear pants... as well as a mask to the new sketch comedy show premiering at The Improv Shop this Saturday, Sept. 4, at The Improv Shop. After all, with COVID-19 delta variant still raging through St. Louis among other cities, I think everybody can use some comedy in their lives. After all, this latest sketch comedy show, directed by Improv Shop veteran Eric Christensen with Williams leading the cast, is two years in the making.
Like many live shows or anything cool worth doing, this latest style of sketch comedy was sidelined due to the pandemic. According to the press release, it was all set to launch back in Feb. 2020 before everything shut down. There were inspirations in the set from Second City's in Chicago and The Groundlings in Los Angeles, but the theme was brand new and Christensen had tour dates all set for his show. Thankfully, comedy endures and the show will go on. Titled "Reconnecting," the show includes local comedy artists such as Ashley Rube, Kate Cole, Jacob McGuire, Mychael Anthony, Leslie Symonds, Abby Vatterott, Ben Lyons, and Williams.
It was Williams who won St. Louis' Funniest Person competition a few years back and also recorded a live album at the Improv Shop two years ago. For him, it's a chance to get on a big stage and make people laugh again, something that seems so foreign yet familiar at the same time for comedians who have used Zoom among other online shows to stay sharp in the past two years. If there's a veteran in the cast, it's Rafe.
"I'm proud of the show we have worked hard over the last year to create together. Please clap. And remember to wear pants," Williams said. Symonds agreed, noting how after doing so much online work recently, she can't wait to actually hear a person laugh.
After all, if we are going to need one thing as the world attempts, for a second time, to find its way back to normal, comedy will be required. It's always required, if you ask me. What would the city do without places like The Improv Shop allowing young funny minds to explore their stories and humor? I won't call this a comeback, but Christensen might. There was a moderate possibility that due to the variant wrecking havoc, the new show would be cancelled. The director and producer persevered.
"We worked with the city and The Improv Shop to make sure the show is safe and most of all a great time. I'm just ready for the lights to come up," Christensen said.
Christensen and Williams have been working on comedy sketch shows for over a decade, going back to STL Up Late, among other skits. They aren't exactly Scorsese and Leo just yet, but they are better looking and a lot more funny. Having done some radio and shared a room with both of them, I can tell you they are authentic comedy performers with stories and humor to show the world.
The Improv Shop is giving them the stage to be seen again, and the audience will be thankful. The first of three shows will be on Sept. 4, with the final performance taking place on Sept. 18. Improv Shop students and performers are free, and the public will only be charged $10 per ticket. As opposed to the $50-60 prices to see one tired performer climb on a stage down at the Fox Theater, this is a bargain.
At The Improv Shop, you're supporting young, homegrown talent with no obligation other than to slay a set and make you cry tears of laughter. People like Williams aren't just in it to grab a Netflix special or quick fame; like fellow St. Louis comedian Max Pryce, who hosts a comedy show at the Funny Bone each month, he cares about the audience and the essence of comedy in this town.
Nothing is more versatile than laughter. Come find out at The Improv Shop, right at the end of The Grove off Chouteau before Vandeventer, this weekend. Purchase tickets online at www.theimprovshop.com.