By: Marc Emmelmann
The parties have just begun in Bankers Hill â€“ Friday Night Comedy Parties that is!Â Nestled between the Tin Can Alehouse and an unnamed drag bar is the new ROAR Theatre. I love Bankers Hill because itâ€™s full of hidden gems, and ROAR Theatre is no exception. ROAR produces Friday Night Comedy Parties, which are a guaranteed two hour ruckus of improvised sketches and games with copious amounts of audience interaction, risquÃ© humor and laughter.Â Unlike your traditional theatre, itâ€™s quite simply a dive; a modern hole in the wall if you will. Many San Diego improv troupes perform sporadically, sometimes once a month, but ROAR is entertaining audiences of up to 50 people EVERY SINGLE FRIDAY!Â Now, you may find yourself sitting in a lawn chair, on a bar stool, on office furniture, or on a couch in this eccentrically cozy venue. Well, maybe not cozy if you get the white lawn chair, but there is ample standing room, so you can always lean up against the wall â€“ just donâ€™t knock over the 4 ft. wooden tiki mask that hangs next to the actorsâ€™ dugout. As for the ambiance at ROARâ€™s new space, fun animal masks adorn the walls (a very becoming custom in the comedy circuit these days) and large murals dedicated to Patrick Swayze are an impending project that producers Travis Doeringer and Holly Mann have in the works.
Before ROAR moved to its Bankers Hill home, it was occupying the green room at Twiggs in University Heights, but only on an â€œEvery other Fridayâ€ basis.Â Being able to have their own space is a milestone for this gaggle of 13 said comeditarians comprised of:Â Cory Milano (32), Student Teacher; Saiid Zamingir (22), Student/Bartender; Randy Thomas (26),Â Babysitter/Student; CJ Chaisson (25), Projectionist; Nathan Reinicke (20), Writer; Sergio Lopez (21), Student; Jen Abundez (23), Improv Artist; Steve Murawka (26), Screenprinter; Jenga (23), Advertising Sales; Andrew Platte (24), Party Animal; Tommy Ortiz (26), Freelance Artist; Claire Hendrix (20), Student; and Stacey Livingstone (25), Marketing Consultant.Â There you have it, a squad made up of mostly 20-somethings who are generally funny and most definitely ambitious. If we were in England, theyâ€™d be the dogâ€™s bollocks.
Opening night at their new space in January was SOLD OUT â€“ a good sign for Travis and Holly. Holly, from Atlanta, is no stranger to the unpredictable performing arts industry in San Diego.Â She was previously employed by Broadway San Diego in their marketing department.Â Holly said she was mentored by one of her superiors and felt there was only one way to be as cool as her â€“ so she did it, she left one of the largest arts organizations in town to blaze her own trail in the way of comedy.Â Holly now works full-time for ROAR, and although she used to act with the entourage, she has since focused on the job of managing a new venue, website, two rehearsals a week, development of comedy classes (which are coming soon), and mapping out future nights for stand up and other styles of comedy to be showcased. â€“ Iâ€™m stoked!
When asked why they choose the name â€œFriday Night Comedy Partyâ€, Travis said Holly came up with it because not everyone realized what they were doing.Â Apparently, invites to â€œMegalovetronâ€, â€œLoveâ€™s Labourâ€™s Lost Not Shakespeareâ€, â€œHarry Potter Prequelâ€, and â€œZombie Vengeanceâ€ were just too misleading.Â And besides the medical marijuana-friendly demographic who come to ROAR, there are many college students, urban explorers, and partiers in general that come out as well.
The names of the some of the games ROAR plays are:Â Â â€œInterviewâ€, â€œDialectsâ€, â€œRantâ€, â€œConfessionsâ€, â€œDating Gameâ€, and â€œPitch Sessionâ€ to name a few.Â Audience participation is encouraged, but not required. The faint of heart need not be afraid to exercise silence, but if you are more of a loudmouth, that definitely works too. Just be sure not to scream over your neighbors. I mean, there are certainly no 12 or even 24 inch voice rules; just donâ€™t make it your subconscious agenda to smother your neighborâ€™s voice. Some of my favorite audience suggestions have been the internet sensation Techno Viking, Oprah, and various arrays of accents, including dinosaur accents (for the screeching, of course), Irish, underwater, and even operatic.
In my recent Skype session interview with Travis and Holly, I asked Travis about what the Friday Night Comedy Parties are all about. He had this to say: â€œItâ€™s about truth in action! And that is why sometimes we offend, though itâ€™s not intentional, obviously. I mean, we make fun of everyone.â€ â€“Ok, he was being a bit playful, but he gets more practical. â€œItâ€™s a place to try stuff out, to yell out loud, take chances, and even be absurd. Some people need it; it can be a much needed soul release.Â Itâ€™s also a shared experience with the actors and the audience. Weâ€™re also very selective when it comes to casting our crew actors. They must resonate with our values, and although we make fun of people, there is a tremendous amount of respect between us and our audiences.â€ â€“ I can attest to that. Travis and Holly are incredibly down to earth, genuine, kind, fun and funny. Theyâ€™re quality people!
NUG readers may experience cottonmouth from all the hubbub on a typical Friday night at ROAR, but Holly assured me that concessions are available (phew!).Â So if you like Vitaminwater, chocolate milk and granola bars, then arenâ€™t you just the lucky one! Other snacks are available too. A liquor license is being pursued, but we all know how that can beâ€¦fingers are crossed for those that enjoy beer & wine with their improv!
So, if your Fridays are boregasms, head over to the infinitely entertaining ROAR Theatre at 1851 Fifth Ave.Â You might want to visit ROAR Theatre on Facebook (www.facebook.com/RoarTheatre) for the 2 for 1 password that is announced every Friday! It is $8 per person, but with the secret password, you and your chum get in for $4 each! If you are interested in auditioning for ROAR Theatre, visit their website www.roartheatre.com for more information. The next audition is April 2.
Remember, thereâ€™s nothing funny about staying home and doing nothing on Friday nights. Parking is simple and abundant in Bankers Hill, so you canâ€™t use it as criteria for not coming.Â Doors open at 8:45pm; Showtime starts at 9pm! If you decide to creep in at 9:06pm, odds are the best seats have been taken. You donâ€™t want thatâ€” you like options â€“ you like to choose.Â Unless a white lawn chair is really your thing.