The Improvaneers Are a Groundbreaking Ohio Comedy Troupe
For decades, improv groups have provided us with some of the most famous comics in the world. Second City gave us Dan Aykroyd and Stephen Colbert. The Groundlings made Will Farrell and Melissa McCarthy household names. It makes you wonder… what future stars might be born in the workshop of The Improvaneers?
Working out of the Weathervane Theatre in Akron, Ohio, The Improvaneers are an up-and-coming comedy troupe of performers with Down syndrome, or DS. Could one of them be the next Tina Fey or Bill Murray? They’re surely worth watching to find out!
Developed by Stand Up for Downs founder Rob Snow in association with veteran comic and improv teacher Jeff Blanchard, The Improvaneers are working toward establishing their cast and developing the skills they’ll need to tear roofs off of venues.
The Improvaneers Prove That Laughter is the Best Medicine
Building any improv troupe from the ground up is a major undertaking. Snow and Blanchard started their journey by hosting 1 hour workshops at Down syndrome conventions all over the country,as well as monthly workshops in GiGi’s Playhouse in Lakewood, Ohio. Eventually, they managed to fill out an audition roster with more than twenty talented performers, only ten of whom made the final cut to officially join The Improvaneers.
Soon, audiences will get to enjoy The Improvaneers’ comedic offerings. And the comedians themselves are finding that work as an improv comic has a therapeutic benefit as well; after all laughter, they say, is the best medicine.
“Throughout the past year of teaching these workshops we saw so many amazing signs of progress in the individuals that took them,” Snow explains. “We saw increased confidence, eye contact, voice projection, and much more.
“We are now three classes deep and we are already seeing incredible results,” he continues. “I could not believe the difference in this cast from the first class to the third. Bonds are being created, each cast member is revealing new skills each week, there is a ton of laughter, and they are all having a blast.”
Snow goes on to explain that The Improvaneers aren’t a hobby. They mean business. Funny business. And Snow is quick to point out that The Improvaneers and Stand Up for Downs are “taking this funny business very seriously.”
“We have very committed performers, caregivers, and an amazing advisory committee made up of various experts who will help us grow this to the level and success it needs to,” Snow says. “This advisory committee consists of filmmakers and content experts who can help us get the word out in the most meaningful way, teachers of acting and improvisation, a renowned speech therapist, and a behavioralist who can help us measure their growth over each session.
“The goal of this program is pretty simple. We are going to use improvisation to build communication skills, increase self-confidence, provide comic timing, and instill the values of team work so that we can create better social and workplace opportunities. Imagine the possibilities!”