‘Nothing compares to hearing the audience laughing’—Quick Wits is back liveAug 11, 2021 12:02PM ● By Sarah Morton Taggart
Rob Ferre tries out a new character for the crowd. (Photo courtesy Racheal Bailey)
By Sarah Morton Taggart | [email protected]
After 470 days, Utah’s longest-running improv troupe was finally able to perform in front of a live, mostly maskless audience.
On June 26, members of Quick Wits played improv games and evoked laughter at the Midvale Performing Arts Center (695 W. 7720 South). Organizers asked that unvaccinated audience members wear a mask, and everyone was encouraged to distance throughout the theatre. But it was still a big improvement over the past one year, three months and 13 days of hamming it up in front of a webcam.
"We tried to keep the shows going online during the pandemic, but nothing compares to hearing the audience laughing,” said Quick Wits owner and founder Bob Bedore. “The actors are all really excited to connect with the fans again, and I’m looking forward to trying out some new games.”
The easiest way to explain what Quick Wits does is that it resembles the TV show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” Comedy sketches are created out of audience suggestions and sometimes members of the crowd might find themselves on stage with the Wits.
Quick Wits started in 1994 and has been performing in the Salt Lake Valley nearly every weekend ever since. The troupe’s last pre-pandemic show took place on March 13, 2020. On March 15 they suspended all live performances until further notice. Starting March 21, fans were able to watch free online shows on the Quick Wits Facebook page. Some audience participation was able to continue, with people encouraged to make suggestions in the comments thread. These virtual performances continued for most of 2020 and through the first few months of 2021.
Quick Wits is also the host of the Wasatch Improv Festival that sees troupes from all over America coming to Utah for a three-day event. This year’s festival took place online in February, but still brought in nearly a dozen unique performers from as far away as San Francisco, Chicago and Tennessee.
“The Zoom shows were really hard,” Bedore said. “We are so used to using our bodies and creating big scenes, but with the small box of a Zoom-type call we were limited. I’m very proud of the type of different shows we were able to put out. We’ve had a lot of time to think of new ways we can make people laugh and we’re ready to make it happen.”
To ease back into performing, the group live streamed a show from the theater on May 29 and invited people to be in the audience a month later.
The “Summer of Fun,” a fan favorite series of themed shows, began in June and will continue through August:
- Aug. 7: Level Up! Video Game Show
- Aug. 14: Musical Extravaganza
- Aug. 21: Slasher Flick (Escape the Stage)
- Aug. 28: Back to School
A typical Quick Wits performance begins at 10 p.m. and costs $10 for adults and $8 for students, seniors and military. Quick Wits will also be offering the $8 price to all teachers and first responders. The show is family friendly, and all ages are welcome. More information can be found at www.qwcomedy.com as well as Facebook and other social media outlets.
“They say that laughter is the best medicine and after the last 14 months we can all use a good chuckle,” Bedore said.