Family Friendly Comedy Night Comes to Northeast Ohio
If you love comedy, but you want the laughs to come from fun, family-oriented material, you need to reserve a Saturday night at the Comedy Theatre Workshop in Cuyahoga Falls. The alcohol-free, smoke-free environment and the squeaky clean jokes are testimony to this non-profit group's motto, "where family-friendly comedy comes to life."
Currently playing two Saturday nights per month at Newell Theatre in the Quirk Cultural Center, 1201 Grant Street in Cuyahoga Falls, the stand-up routine is performed by a troupe of 11 local comedians who call themselves, "Point of No Return Improv Players." The players use audience suggestions to create unscripted humor on the spot. The show is patterned after the hit TV show, "Whose Line is it Anyway?" All of the performers, who range in age from teens to mid-50, are unpaid; the $5 cover charge is invested back into the workshop and the goal of bringing clean, family-friendly entertainment to northeast Ohio.
How it All Began
Comedy Theatre Workshop Executive Director Kathleen Walder is not new to comedy, public speaking or entrepreneurship. After stints in high school and college theatre, Kathleen spent ten years in public relations promoting comedians and the Cleveland Improv. "I was fascinated with how to craft a joke and make people laugh," she reflects.
Five years ago, when Kathleen closed her business to become a full-time mom, her life took an even greater turn than expected. A friend talked with her about salvation through Jesus Christ, and Kathleen decided to become a Christian. "All of a sudden, the comedy club atmosphere bothered me?the language, the drinking, the smoking," she explains.
Kathleen went on to pursue her interest in theatre last fall with the lead role in the very dark and depressing production of George Orwell's "1984" at ANTIC Community Theatre in Cuyahoga Falls. There she met what was to become the Point of No Return Improv troupe. The cast resorted to humor to keep their spirits up between torture scenes during the Orwell play. The director agreed that there "was some hidden talent" and encouraged the group to "get your own show." The group went on to take a 6-week Comedy 101 class taught by Mike Veneman, a nationally recognized comedian, at Hudson High School. By January 2002, the Comedy Theatre Workshop brainchild came to life. A current show is scheduled for August 24th.
"I would love to get people in who are sitting on the fence and show them that comedy doesn't have to be dirty," Kathleen smiles. "God created comedy! He has a great sense of humor. Jesus taught most of his lessons by taking people by surprise."
The Growing Vision
Beginning in September, Point of No Return will perform in Northampton Town Hall near Cuyahoga Falls, for at least one year. During the transition, the Comedy Theatre Workshop hopes to win a bid on the Front Street Theatre in Cuyahoga Falls, which they submitted in cooperation with a restaurant operator.
All the while, Point of No Return Improv continues to offer their stand-up routine to groups who are looking for family-friendly comedy. They will come to you or you can come to them. To sponsor an Improv Night Out for your group, simply guarantee a minimum number of tickets; in return, your group name appears in the program and selected members of your group will be brought on stage during the show. The troupe also showcases amateur nights for upcoming comedians who want to audition for an opportunity to perfect their skills.
Comedy Theatre Workshop offers Camp Improv for kids 8 - 12 who want to turn their "class clown" energy into something positive. Class members graduate onstage in a performance with Point of No Return Improv. Adult and teen stand-up comedy classes are coming soon.
The troupe also sponsors an ongoing fundraiser, "Long-Stemmed Red NOSES" wrapped in floral paper with baby's breath, a ribbon and card. One dozen for $30 provides a fun gift while supporting Comedy Theatre Workshop.
For more information, visit www.orgsites.com/oh/comedy or call 330/686-8789.