Winning! At the Voodoo
Happy FunTime just happened to be sitting one night in Voodoo Comedy Playhouse during a Duel, a show where on Monday nights, two imrov teams face off to win a $500 prize at the end of their 12 week run or so. The theater proceeded to fill up. To capacity. We laughed our butts off at the quick game improv-slam style of The Black Actors Guild. Equipped with bell, and full on running, they jammed the stage with actors and scenes for their 20 minute stint where we missed some of the lines because of the amount of laughter. Yes. They are THAT funny. They pack the house. They bring the funny. They came in the Challengers and keep leaving each week the Champions.
After coming back each week for about a month, we see them bring the funny EVERY week. The show ‘The Duel’ is broken up with performances usually from house improv team, Governor Jack, and a stand up comic on occasion. It’s a great night, its free and its a very cool secret in town if you want to share it, but what brought us back each week was the energy and skill of The Black Actors Guild. Competitors began noticing that these guys PACK THE HOUSE.
We stand by the fact that The B.A.G. pack the house because they are FUNNY. They pack the house also, because after each show they shake your hand, they smile, they wave, they hug you, all their friends come and support them; they’ve built quite a following being friendly and outgoing. We all have equal opportunity to do so as performers. We looked into them a little more and discovered they do a ton ‘o stuff in their community as well. They are damn good.
Not only do they perform every Tuesday (that p.s. you can join in on) at The Crossroads Theater but also Wednesdays at their new spot at The Divine on 14th and Williams where they are renovating the downstairs theatre, so admission is FREE.
Many of these members are aspiring actors, filmmakers, writers, producers; some are attending college for communications, political science, ethnic studies, ballet, tap, jazz and contemporary dance scholarships, Art and Design majors, BFA’s, MFA’s…these guys aren’t fooling around with this business of fooling around. Despite all these aspirations and going away to school, so many of the graduated members return and give back. That says alot about their drive and their pull.
HFT: How many people are in the group currently?
B.A.G.: We have eight resident artists in Denver, but ten others come back during different periods of the year to help with teaching and productions. So around twenty.
HFT: Favorite forms you like performing?
B.A.G: Short-form is our bread and butter, it’s what we’re most comfortable doing in terms of improv. We certainly enjoy Long-form, but would prefer to do a series of written skits instead. The “Doin’ the Most” Comedy Season will be coming back soon, and will actually premiere in our “Show ya Teef” event on Tuesdays.
HFT: What person would be your improv dream to work with?
B.A.G.: Dave Chapelle, we’ve found that Stand Up Comedians are pretty damn
good at Improv.
HFT: You are a pretty impressive group. You aren’t just a bunch of dudes hanging out being funny. You have a craft, you teach workshops, you work in your community, you are a business you are supported and supportive. You are a very driven group with very driven ideas to take over the world…what are your long term goals with B.A.G. ?
B.A.G.: Well thanks, we work very hard. The long term goal for the Guild is to create a Production and Education company that will serve as a brilliant hub for Colorado’s freshest young talent. Television and Film will be the next stepping stones, allowing us to incorporate our anthologies of original work. We don’t want to show too many of our
cards, but we believe that Denver is the next Hollywood. Our first goal is to see that realized.
HFT: I see a lot of the members of your group go away to college, but stay
with the group, stay committed however they can. What keeps this drive
B.A.G.: It’s the extraordinary people that we have. We all understand what the
vision will become, and everyone does as much as they can to make it happen. Many members come back during off seasons and help us plan; many provide logistic support from hundreds or thousands of miles away. Regardless of if they are in the state, most are always contributing in some way.
HFT: Are you looking to do other B.A.G. groups or open other guilds in other cities? If so, where?
B.A.G Well, we’ve had some opportunities to perform at colleges in Florida, Chicago, and Nebraska. But as we’ve mentioned, our main goal is to activate Colorado as an entertainment hub. After that, we’ll branch out.
HFT: What ways do you market your group? What works best?
B.A.G: We love meeting people face to face, but of course we’re on Facebook and Twitter (Guildtalkin). We find that posters and social connections are the best way to spread the word of the Guild. We’re also still a young company, so we’re always testing out new ways of marketing.
HFT: Advice to other actors or performers who want to follow this
B.A.G: Harness what makes you happy.
HFT: Have you benefited from any sponsorship and/or grants? Do you help others seek sponsorship or grants?
B.A.G.: We did receive one grant about a year ago, known as the “Strengthening Neighborhood” grant. (The Denver Foundation) As a for-profit, it was one of the only grants we could have even tried for. We don’t help others “Seek-Sponsorship”, though we are certainly consultants. Professional Development is currently our newest branch, but has great potential. We’re always willing to sit down and talk.
Quinn Marchman, Danny Ramos, Corin Chavez, Nick Thorne, Fronzo Gilkey and AJ Tapia pose with the championship belt.
Their motto is to ‘educate, inspire and influence.’ Founded in 2009, they produced ‘Black to the Future’ and ‘Living In Color;’ and ‘The Last Crayon In the Box’ while attending Denver School of the Arts. They offer after school workshops for kids at schools all over Denver. Here’s their key: (from their website) “Built off a strong sense of community the Black Actors Guild has always been one to embrace their supporters and often times find a way to get them involved.” And it shows. At every show. We should all follow their lead.
Thank you and we’ll see you all soon!