By Sara Teller
GO COMEDY IMPROV THEATER WAS FOUNDED IN 2008 BY GERALD KNIGHT, CHRIS DIANGELO, TOMMY LEROY, AND PJ JACOKES. When Second City Detroit moved to Novi, where it would later close, there were a lot of talented improvisers and comedians who suddenly had no home. The four owners came together, hoping they could fill that gap.
The theater currently offers weekly improv opportunities showcasing short-form, game-style skits such as ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway’ as well as long-form, improvised scene work. It also hosts a variety of entertainment venues open to the public.
“In addition, we offer improv and sketch-writing classes designed to help working professionals get better at public speaking and thinking on their feet,” said manager Jess Krrzyczkowski, adding that the theater trains “the next generation of improvisers to keep pushing the art form forward. We also have our corporate improv and workshops division, Go Corp, which offers corporate-training, team-building, and entertainment for basically any event you can imagine.”
GO COMEDY’S INTRO PROGRAM INCLUDES CLASSES OPEN TO ANYONE, from any background, with any level of talent. Newcomers always start at Intro I and learn to use long-practiced improv tools to improve their communication skills. Those who just want to meet new people in the area or improve their public speaking skills are welcome, as are business professionals and budding artists.
The theater’s Advanced Improv is for anyone who has completed the Intro Program and is looking to build upon these skills. The workshops focus primarily on scene work and long-form montages, which are more complicated than what participants are introduced to at the Intro level. The program challenges members who are looking to move beyond basic skill-building.
Go Comedy’s Sketch-Writing Program focuses on various types of sketches, fundamentals, and writing exercises over the course of an entire term, allowing students to hone their craft as they develop a show which will run before an audience.
Even though the pandemic has taken a hit on the theater since its inception, the staff is looking forward to becoming active in the community once again and will be involved in several upcoming events and activities, including Ferndale Pride (June 4, 2022), the Run for Laughs 5k (June 11, 2022) and the Detroit Improv Festival (August 2022, detroitimprovfestival.org). Go Comedy will be setting up a booth at Pride and will host Run for Laughs, a charity run/walk event meant to continue the theater’s mission to foster community, inspire movement, and promote mental health in an inclusive, supportive, and humorous environment. It will also host the Improv Festival.
Krrzyczkowski explained, “The theater is obviously slow to return post-pandemic. We had to shut our doors from March 2020 to September 2021, and rebuilding has been slow. We’re still operating at a reduced capacity, and requiring masks and proof of COVID vaccine, because keeping our casts and staff safe is priority number one. I think more than ever before, people are looking for escape from the heaviness of life in these unprecedented times, and if we can provide that freedom and levity, we’re happy to do that.”
She encourages all residents to get involved, saying, “Improv comedy has been a historically white and cis-male space, and we’re doing our best to shift that and create better, more inclusive entertainment. Our audiences have always been diverse, and we want to offer shows that cater to a variety of people and progressive viewpoints. We offer a diversity scholarship for interested students and have a proven commitment to putting forth shows that feature diverse casts.”