Phoenix has Stand Up Live Comedy Theater. Jester’Z is in Scottsdale. And Mesa’s home to the National Comedy Theater.
Soon, there will be a live comedy option in Gilbert.
Outliars Comedy Club will begin performing Friday, Jan. 25, at DownUnder Wines and Bistro on Warner Road. The troupe of improvisational comics is the project of Dave Thurston, a Marcos de Niza High School graduate who studied at Chicago’s famed Second City comedy club and school of improvisation.
“Each show is completely unique. In fact, out in Glendale, we’ll have people come to the 7:30 show, go out, buy another ticket, and come in again for the 9:30 show because they’re that different,” he says.
A cast of five to 10 “players” per show take suggestions from the audience in “Who’s Line Is It, Anyway?” fashion.
“Our emphasis is on laughter,” says Thurston, 32. “There are no teams. There are no referees. There’s no bag over your head. What we look at is, how many laughs are we getting in the first five minutes? In the next five minutes, we want to double that. And in the five minutes after that, double it again. And so on. I cut my scenes at about four to eight seconds. If we don’t have a laugh in that time, we move on to the next scene.”
The players — people ages 19 to 50 who have taken Thurston’s comedy classes — must also toe the line on an array of off-limits material.
“I don’t let them use four-letter words, and there’s no bashing of people, and nothing of a sexual connotation. I don’t like drug references, either. I think that’s an easy laugh,” says Thurston, who has an MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management. He performed, taught and directed for seven years with longtime Valley troupe Jester’Z Improv Comedy.
Outliars already performs shows in Glendale and Tempe. In February, they’ll debut a fourth comedy club at Iguana Mack’s in Chandler.
Both the Chandler and Gilbert shows will take place in restaurant banquet rooms.
“So we’ve got four walls, isolated from the rest of the bar. It’s like a pressure cooker; you can feel the energy trapped in those four walls. If you didn’t have that environment, it wouldn’t work. And you can order food and drink,” says Thurston.
The group has already sold more than 600 tickets for Gilbert and Chandler shows, according to Thurston, thanks to deals offered on coupon sites like Groupon and Living Social.
He recommends the events for people age 16 and older.
“A lot of (what we do) just has to do with the energy, intellect and playing characters that are unique and funny. If you can play characters that behave in a funny way, it’s not so much about what they say; you don’t have to go to the gutter to get laughs. It’s about what they do.”
Outliars Comedy Club began putting on shows last fall. Many of the players have been working together, via Thurston’s weekly comedy classes in Tempe, for a year or two.
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