Article: "Improv Comedy"

Improv Comedy
Josh Ortega, Colorado Lifestyles Magazine

Have you ever wondered what happened to that kid in high school who could make anyone laugh? What about he friends who always made you laugh, no matter what the situation? What happens to those funny kids once they graduate?

"I was a tap dancer in high school. I wasn't very popular," Brian Harper jokes.

Brian can definitely puff out his chest at the next reunion...because he might very well be the reunion's scheduled entertainment. Brian and his good friend Russ Faillaci discovered that funny kids become funny adults, so they melded their comedic minds to create Madcap Theatre. "I still tap dance," Brian says, "It's just funnier now."

While working at the Impulse Theater, downtown, Brian and Russ discovered their shared love of improv comedy.

"We both knew it was love...unfortunately, we were both married," Brian said.

Madcap Theater brings its own style of clean and tasteful improv comedy to the Denver metro area. The theatre is located in the heart of the Westminster Promenade, the entertainment wonderland this side of downtown.

"We wanted to create a place that the family can enjoy," Russ said, "I think so much of the downtown scene is geared towards a younger, single crowd that it scares families away. We want families to come and enjoy a clean comedy show."

A comfortable, tasteful environment is just what the actors at Madcap want to provide and what the audience to experience. Audience participation is one of the most important elements of the show.

"It's common to sometimes get inappropriate suggestions from the audience," Russ said. "We just ignore those suggestions. It's a much more exciting and difficult challenge to be creative with clean topics than be dirty."

It's no coincidence that the Madcap group wants a family atmosphere, because the group is literally a family in many ways.

Russ met his wife Nicole, a fellow Madcap improv actor, while studying at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Russ, a Colorado native, gave up his rebel-without-a-cause image and returned home after finding his love for improv in small, Los Angeles comedy clubs.

Nicole is originally from Las Vegas, where she's best known for her portrayal of Dorothy at MGM Grand Hotel. She laughs that she's a celebrity in Japan, but her best role might have been as a waitress at Hooters. "That's where I did my best acting," Nicole jokes.

Russ and Nicole took their love of improv comedy to the Impulse Theatre, where they met Brian, who brags about being a fellow Colorado native since he was three years old. Brian found time to work at Kaiser Permanente's Educational Theater while at the Impulse. It's at the Impulse Theatre where Brian met his match and his wife Renee.

The friends have lived their lives through improv comedy ever since. In fact, it was onstage where Brian proposed to Renee...doing a rapping bit.

"I didn't know what was going on until probably the second or third line," Renee admits.

"We got the whole thing on tape because Russ was out of town, which was probably a good thing because he might have ruined it," Brian said.