I am seated on the patio at Commercial Drive’s Cafe Deux Soliels on a gorgeous summer afternoon enjoying an ice cold beer. Seated across from me is one Daniel Chai. Chai is no stranger to this local bastion for the arts here in Vancouver. The improv comedy troupe The Fictionals has headlined the cafe almost every week since Chai co-founded the group three years ago. Each Tuesday night the group rotates a trio of fresh comedy events:
- The Pop-Up Comedy Jam – The Fictionals send an invite out to other improvisers from around the city to collaborate on a comedy jam session of sorts. A fun chance for the audience to see new faces from all over the Greater Vancouver area.
- Vancouver Improv Fight Club – While the Pop Up Comedy Jam is a fun night of collaboration, this Fight Club is exactly the opposite of that. Duos representing different comedy troupes go head to head in a tag-team improv melee in a battle… for audience love and approval!
- Show Us Your Wits – A saucy mix of naughty improvising with a spectacle of burlesque!
But one of Daniel Chai’s most recent creations has grown to immense proportions and after only six months of capacity shows at Cafe Deux Soliels had to move to a new night and a new home a few blocks down the road to find larger accommodations at another staple of Vancouver entertainment, The Rio Theatre.
That creation: Improv Against Humanity.
Based on the phenomenal hit card game Cards Against Humanity (and given blessing by the game’s creators), Improv Against Humanity starts by selecting audience members and bringing them on stage to play a few rounds of the raunchy mix-and-match, fill-in-the-blank party game live. When the lightning round of the game is finished, the cast from The Fictionals then enacts scenes based on the winning hands.
Never played Cards Against Humanity? Well let me give you a few quick examples of a what a winning hand could end up looking like (straight off of their official website no less):
- In Michael Jackson’s final moments, he thought about waking up half naked in a Denny’s parking lot.
- What is Batman’s guilty pleasure? Child beauty pageants.
- What ended my last relationship? 8oz of sweet Mexican black-tar heroin.
As you can imagine, the results can get quite outlandish and offensive. Equally, it can end up unpredictable and hilarious. It’s that magic combination that has made it such an instant hit with Vancouver audiences. In fact, even after moving venues from Cafe Deux Soliels, The Fictionals’ Improv Against Humanity debut at The Rio Theatre was completely sold out as well.
It doesn’t stop there, however. The intermission at Improv Against Humanity is quickly becoming it own beast as well. All while including a literal wall of social media as a live Twitter feed (#IAHatRio) is projected on screen, cast member Alan Pavlakovic deftly turns the group’s fund-raising efforts into the audience participation event, ITS A RAFFLE! In the words of Chai himself: “If you’ve ever seen Alan do Its A Raffle!, you’ll understand that… it takes a lot out of Alan. He puts his blood and sweat… a lot of sweat… into entertaining the crowd and selling these raffles tickets. So people not only get to interact with each other on the giant Twitter feed that we have, but they also get to interact with Alan.” He adds, “A lot of times there are special requests for Alan to take off his shirt. I believe its worked at least once.”
So where can you find the The Fictionals? In addition to their Tuesday night slot at Cafe Deux Soliels, Improv Against Humanity invades The Rio Theatre the third Wednesday of every month, and the cast members can be found all around Vancouver including being a part of Vancouver Theatre Sports (both main stage and rookie league), as well as The Bobbers Queer Comedy Improv, Sudden Death Improv, Table 23 Comedy and more!
Chai: “If its funny in Vancouver, if The Fictionals aren’t a part of it, we are there supporting it!”