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Monday, August 6, 2012

The Upstage Interview, François Vincent on Montreal Improv

Vincent (r) and his Venezuela partner Sean Michaels

It’s more fun than anything I’ve ever done.
Upstage  and CharPo Contributor Sarah Deshaies spoke with François Vincent, one of the founders of Montreal Improv.

UPSTAGE: Tell us how Montreal Improv got started.

VINCENT: Marc Rowland, Bryan Walsh, Kirsten Rasmussen and I had all performed together on the improv scene. Even though there are many great improv spots in Montreal, we thought Montreal needed a centre for improv, a home base dedicated to the art of improvised theatre. 

The four of us started teaching classes together. Fortunately for Kirsten, but unfortunately for us, she’s gone on to her own amazing career. The three of us were left behind!  We’ve put on hundreds of shows, taught many hours of classes, so we’re doing OK, and here we are celebrating our second anniversary.

We have shows every Thursday-Friday-Saturday and classes the rest of the week. It’s turned into this wonderful community.

We were getting tired of scrambling for spaces to teach our classes.

UPSTAGE:   I imagine having to run your own venue and teach classes is very different from putting on an improv show. Were there any challenges you didn’t expect and how did you adjust to the changes?

VINCENT:  It’s a huge other skill set . We know how to put on a show and how to run the stuff around the show. But  all the associated aspects of running a venue caused some frustration at the beginning. For me, since I do the accounting for the theatre, it’s definitely not something you learn in a comedy club. We got better and better as we went along. 

UPSTAGE:  Improv is hard  but it’s a lot of fun. Are you still having fun?

VINCENT: It’s more fun than anything I’ve ever done. Running a theatre is a lot of work, but well worth it. Often, coming out of the theatre after a long day, I find it energizing and can’t wait to do it again.

UPSTAGE: Did you expect to still be around two years later? Was there a five-year plan or did you think it would just be a trial for a few months and then evaluate it?

VINCENT: We were getting tired of scrambling for spaces to teach our classes. We thought maybe we should rent this place. We knew we could give it a go for a year, so we said let’s try it.

UPSTAGE:  Any plans for expansion? Where do you see yourself in the next few years?

VINCENT:  We’re starting to outgrow the current theatre space. There’s a small studio space in the back so now we have classes in both spaces. We’re looking at different types of classes. Montreal’s sketch comedy community isn’t as well developed as other cities. That’s something we’d like to pursue.

UPSTAGE: It’s heartening to hear a story of growth in anglophone theatre with plans to expand.

VINCENT: Marc is a high school teacher, He doesn’t have to do that any more. He’s Improv Director. 

UPSTAGE: What are you doing to celebrate your anniversary?

VINCENT: We have several things happening. Many shows including some of our students presenting I Challenge You. We also have a group from New York coming in. There’ll be events all weekend.

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