Seattle is rife with opportunities for improv comedians. So why are they coming to Everett?
Exit 192 Improv’s foolery might have something to do with it.
“I made it my mission to create something up here so the best Seattle improvisers wouldn’t think twice to come up here and participate,” said Britney Barber, a professional improv comedian who started the Exit 192 show two years ago. “I’m so excited we’re slowly getting our name out there.”
Exit 192 Improv, part of Barber’s theater company, Everett Improv, performs every month at the Historic Everett Theatre. The next show, set for Dec. 28, will feature comedians from the Puget Sound area who are masters of unpredictable comedy.
Past performances have included running gags inspired by audience suggestions, off-the-cuff games and jokes about random things brought on stage, such as pool noodles, wind spinners and hula hoops.
The rotating cast of comedians — some new and some returning — perform together, much like what’s seen on the improv-comedy TV show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” Their short- and long-form sets can be as quick as a few seconds or as long as 10 minutes.
And while the jokes go on, a technical improviser incorporates shifts in music and lighting to match what’s happening on stage. The fun, both for the audience and the comedians, comes from all the unknowns.
“With improv, the risk is way bigger,” Barber said. “It takes years to perfect it. What I’m trying to do is hopefully promise my community that I’m giving you the best I have access to.”
Barber, 37, of Everett, has performed professionally since 2000; she’s a former member of Jet City Improv, an improv theater company in Seattle, and has also appeared with groups in Philadelphia, Chicago and Jacksonville.
She moved to Everett in 2013 with her wife, Jennifer Barber, a former Naval officer. Not long after, she founded Everett Improv and began hosting free monthly improv shows at Cafe Zippy.
Barber started Exit 192 Improv with a goal: Producing a show for locals that would not only make live theater accessible, but be competitive with Seattle. She is so confident in the show that she makes a guarantee each month.
“If they (the audience) are anything but completely happy and glad they spent money on the show, I will seriously give you money right out of my pocket,” she said. “I do this for the community, the art, the culture and the future. It would be wrong of me to ask my community to invest in what I’m trying to do without any safety net.”
John Boyle, an improv comedian from Seattle for the past 18 years, will perform Dec. 28. He said improv is unique compared to other forms of comedy because of the interactions with audience members.
“It’s a completely customized experience in a way that you can’t get anywhere else,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun to take a suggestion from the audience and turn it into something they weren’t thinking about.”
Barber said Exit 192 Improv is another evolution in the local improv scene, which is slowly but surely gaining popularity.
“Our smallest show is 50 people and in any theater in Seattle, that’d be a sold-out show,” she said.
In addition to performing onstage, she also teaches improv classes for people of all ages.
“This is going to sound cheesy, but I think when you’re doing improv right, it makes the world a little better,” she said.
Evan Thompson: 425-339-3427, email@example.com. Twitter: @ByEvanThompson.
If you go
Exit 192 Improv will perform at 8 p.m. Dec. 28 at the Historic Everett Theatre, 2911 Colby Ave., Everett. The show has mature content, so viewer discretion is advised. Tickets are $12 to $15. Call 425-258-6766. More at www.yourhet.org or www.exit192improv.com.