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Q and A Changing Faces Theater Company brings improvisational comedy to Hutchins Street Square

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Posted: Friday, February 3, 2012 8:03 am

Changing Faces Theater Company is bringing a different kind of performance to Hutchins Street Square: Improvisational comedy. It’s not stand-up, but it is both funny and interactive with the audience.

Changing Faces is featuring improv actor Brent Tubbs, who share a little about his love for improv, his background and his life now that he’s living in Lodi.

Q: Your improv show will be funny, but it’s not stand-up comedy. What will the show be like?

A: A lot of times when you say improv, people think of stand-up comedy, which is not what this is. Improv is more theater-based. We’re doing improv games in the show, and it’s made up completely on the spot with audience suggestions. Every show is going to be different.

We  tell the audience that if you enjoy tonight, come back another night because it will be completely different.

Q: So the audience pretty much demands the direction of the show. What are some examples you expect to get from the audience?

A: There are a couple different games. One is based on a suggestion given from an audience member, like giving us a specific location or activity — that sort of stuff. There are other games, where we actually ask audience members to volunteer and come up on stage.

At one point, we’ll focus on texting. We’ll grab two audience members who are willing to share their cellphones and text messages. The two people will use their cellphones and everything they say ay will have to come from the texts while the other will have to make that work.

Q: You’ve been doing improv for a long time. What is your theater background?

A: I’ve been doing it now for 12 years. I started with a national improv group called ComedySportz. I started in my hometown of Rock Island, Ill. when I was 16. When I was in high school, I performed with them every Friday and Saturday night for a year. From there, I moved out to Fresno and went to Fresno State for two years. There was no improv to speak of, so I started a group call Improver Behavior. We started doing shows as a group, and that kind of grew a little, too.

I did an intensive two-week workshop with Second City, pretty much the Mecca of improv and sketch comedy. They’ve produced a lot of [shows]. Mike Myers and Chris Farley went to Second City. While I was there, I thought, “If this is going on all the time, I’ve got to be involved in this.” I moved to Los Angeles to give to give it a shot and to see what would happened.

I graduated from there and performed down there right up until I left. I toured with them through Holland and Belgium and even New Jersey. As I left to travel with them, my wife and I  had our first child.

Q: Your wife, Sara (Crua) Tubbs, wanted to move back to her hometown of Lodi when you started touring. When was that?

A: We came here in 2007, though I was still on the road for a while.

When I got back, ComedySportz was just opening up in Sacramento. ... I started looking at avenues to create something here involving improv. There’s nothing here in Lodi.

Q: How did you get involved with Changing Faces Theater Company?

A: I started teaching improv classes Hutchins Street Square. Changing Faces was doing “Night of the Living Dead” and I called (director) Mike Bartram and said, “I’d love to come do a improv workshop with your cast.”

It just really is the perfect marriage. Everyone at Changing Faces is just awesome.

We cannot wait to do these shows. We hope that they continue.

Q: When and where are your improv classes these days?

A: I teach (month-long) improv workshops at Hutchins Street Square. We meet four times a month on Saturdays, and it’s for ages 13 and up.

The next session will start in March.

Q: You say a lot of people don’t know what improv really is. How would you describe it?

A: It’s like seeing a “Saturday Night Live”-type show where there is no script. Everything is made up on the spot, based on audience suggestions.

Q: What do you like best about improv?

A: I guess it is the spontaneity in the fact that you don’t know what you’re getting into. It creates excitement and adrenaline you don’t get from a scripted show.

Q: What do you and your wife like to do when you have spare time?

A: With three kids, we don’t get spare time (laughs). We love going to a movie or to see a show.

Q: You do improv on the side. What is your day job?

A: I work at St. Joseph’s radiology department. It’s about a 180-turn (from the world of improv).

Q: What do your coworkers say when they find out you’re a comedian?

A: At first they were like, “You don’t do that,” because it is so completely different. In the health care industry you don’t find many people in the theater worlds.

Q: Do you have any favorite movies or TV shows?

A: I love the original British version of “The Office.”

Q: How would you describe the show people will see?

A: It’s something different, probably something they’ve never seen before. But it will be funny. The format we’re doing is a proven format. All games have been around since the ’40s. They are fun to watch and it will be funny and different.

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