While emerging from isolation after COVID-19, what Tuong La wanted most was an improv show that highlighted the art form of improv. A Little Something Silly, a two-day improv extravaganza, is the result of that desire.
La and Laura Gordon, his co-producer and wife, are presenting two nights of improv on Easter weekend at the KW Little Theatre in uptown Waterloo. They hope the shows demonstrate to audiences what La already knows: improv is worthy of a serious stage.
The show will feature four acts each night. The last two include talent from Toronto and Ottawa. Leslie Cserepy, member of a duo with Sachin Sinha called Cafe au Lait and a member of Toronto’s The Assembly, is hosting the show and performing.
Twong & Agnes are headlining both nights.
Twong is La, using the name folks commonly assign him when they try to pronounce his given name. Agnes is Angus MacDonald, La’s improv partner of seven years and an Ottawa resident willing to commit to both nights.
Gordon has also helped with media and art. She was the person who told La to stop talking about producing an improv show on a stage in Kitchener-Waterloo and just do it.
“We both recognize what we’re…good at,” La said. “It’s very easy to collaborate with one another because we just rely on each other’s strengths.”
He finds happiness connecting with fellow improvisers onstage, and it’s a joy to him to watch people being silly. He also said improv makes him stronger because it helps him speak at the top of his intelligence offstage.
As well as calling on his improv connections in Toronto and Ottawa, La called on the improv community in the region and in Guelph.
“People have a misconception that Toronto is the closest and best place…to see great comedy, and that is simply not the case,” La said.
“We have something great here in our city too and we just wanted to create a show and space to let these local performers shine,” he said.
On Saturday, local improviser Braedon Etienne is appearing with his group After This.
“Post-pandemic, there’s been lots of new small groups emerging, all doing their own thing. And it’s all good. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone come together at A Little Something Silly,” Etienne said.
Also performing are Rinse & Repeat, Comedy Sketch Town, and Borscht!, all of which draw on talent from Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph.
La and Gordon work together regularly on the podcast Disney Dummies & Pixar Pals, an offering of PodCavern, a network La owns and operates.
PodCavern is where some of La’s production experience was earned. At present, there are eight active podcasts on the network, and La lends his artistic and/or production talent to all of them. He’s been podcasting since 2014.
Producing a live show is similar, but bigger than previous projects. For example, it requires event insurance. He called getting insurance the biggest hurdle to putting this show together.
If the show is a success, La will celebrate by producing another show locally. The larger goal is to run an improv festival in town.
Before COVID-19, improv was strong in K-W and Guelph, thanks, in large part, to The Making Box and Theatre on the Edge. A Little Something Silly will show K-W that its own improv talent is ready to once again provide premium entertainment right here.
If the show is a success, La will celebrate by producing another show locally.
“[The] end game is to run a mini-improv festival…This is the first step,” La said.