Let’s face it. Humans that can make other humans laugh are of superior quality, and sometimes it’s nice to mix in some on-the-fly banter with those well-oiled knock knock jokes. Enter: Improv. If you wish to watch and learn from the finest and hone your own improvisation skills, Bad Dog Theatre Company is the place to go.
For over 30 years, Bad Dog Theatre Company (BDTC) has been pushing the boundaries of improvised theatre. More than just a space to get a dose of some seriously funny improv, Bad Dog also provides theatre courses to comics in training and is the only theatre in Toronto that is a registered charity. BDTC also forged a new relationship with Toronto’s Urban Arts organization, focusing on outreach arts work for the community.
Formally known as Theatresports Toronto, the company changed its name to BDTC in 2003, accompanying a broadening of the improvised performance styles and training it sought to offer its patrons. The company bounced around from the Harbourfront to the Danforth and finally settled at 875 Bloor Street West (Bloor in between Ossington and Carling) as the resident company for Comedy Bar, a leading comedy venue in the city.
A wide range of shows and workshops run daily, providing a place for professional improvisers and directors to push the limits of their artistic abilities to their audiences – and a large audience at that. The theatre draws over 3, 000 new and returning visitors every year, and is home to over 400 students, volunteers and faculty members and performers. The company’s Youth Academy hosts students aged 10-18 who may be seeking recreation, professional training or even looking to improve their language and speaking skills. Who knows, these kids could even go on to become the next Mike Myers or Keanu Reeves (just two of the now internationally famous faces that were once hosted by BDTC).
General Manager Lisa Amorengen sees the benefits of learning improvised comedy, beyond the obvious: “whether our students enroll in classes to help with public speaking, develop their comedic style, or just to make new friends, they are pushing themselves to say ‘yes’ to the unexpected, to collaborate, and to discover new skills”. And as the only improv theatre-registered charity combo in the city, and following the non-for-profit model theatrical model that they do, she is confident in the company’s ability to transform the culture of improv and comedy in the overall arts scene of Toronto.
Winter registration for improv workshops at the Bad Dog Theatre Company is now open, and more information about the company can be found on their website.