There are over 100 shows and 180 comedic artists playing all around town in the next two weeks at JFL NorthWest. We can’t highlight everything, obviously, but here's a performer who won’t disappoint: the improv-minded Rory Scovel, slated to play the Rio Theatre next Thursday and Friday (February 21 and 22).
Georgia Straight: How improvised are your shows?
Rory Scovel: Last year in Atlanta I did six shows in a row fully improvised and we shot it for a documentary. Just recently, a friend said, “You’ve got to put some text at the beginning, because your fans think that’s what you do anyways.” And I was like, “Oh shit, you’re right. We have to make sure there’s some kind of text that this is not my usual thing.” I would say my usual act is probably 60 to 80 percent written material that was born out of improvised, spontaneous moments. I try to keep it loose and play around when I can.
GS: You’ve compared what you usually do to jazz.
RS: I also reference Phish a lot, just because they also start a song and then four minutes into the song they do a 20-minute improvised jam, and then they come back and close out the song. I think my attraction to that kind of music is that, when you can’t predict what the music is about to be, you have a better chance of getting lost in it, because your brain doesn’t grow numb to knowing when the beat will come or when the changes are going to come.
GS: I know a lot of times you’ll start your sets using an accent, whether it’s a southern one or vaguely Germanic or Scandinavian. It must be harder to fool people now, the more known you are.
RS: I think anyone who is a fan gets excited knowing “This isn’t who he is, but I guess this is what he’s going to do tonight.” And then I think people who haven’t seen me who show up at a club or wherever, they just assume that’s who I am, so they still pay attention. I still just do my act anyways. I have a feeling that if I wrote an act for those characters, it wouldn’t be as appealing to people who liked what I did.