When the Louisville Improvisors first formed, Bill Clinton was still president. For a tight-knit trifecta of comedians to last nearly 20 years is certainly a feat, and it’s the trio’s homegrown chemistry that keeps them — and their audience — coming back for more year after year.
Chris Anger, Alec Volz and Brian Hinds have brought Louisville the art of improv since 1999, and on Friday, Jan. 12, they’re hosting the annual Improvapalooza, with special guests Matt & Mattingly from Las Vegas. The event is a way to showcase the best improv troupes from around the country, and in the past they’ve hosted groups from New York, L.A., Chicago, and Nashville, among others.
You can expect a full set from the Louisville Improvisors, a full set from the Vegas visitors, and then a full set of both groups on The Bard’s Town stage together. (Showtime is 8 p.m., tickets are $15.)
Insider caught up with Improvisor Alec Volz, who tells us he keeps coming back to the stage because of his partners in crime.
“None of us can do it (as well) alone, but together as Louisville Improvisors, we kick ass,” he says. “And I think audiences keep coming back to see that, to see that onstage chemistry. To see what we will come up with next.”
Volz, who has worked with local theater companies from Walden to Savage Rose to the Necessary Theatre Co., explains that when they start an improv skit, they really have no idea where it’s going to go or how it will end.
“We only know we’re on a ride, and we’re taking the audience with us,” says Volz. “What we do have every time we’re out there is the true joy of discovery, and hopefully our audience gets that same joy.”
He believes comedy is as important now as it has ever been, and although the Improvisors don’t consciously set out to do topical and/or political work, it can’t help but creep its way in.
“As long as we stay true to the characters we create — and I think we pretty much always do — the truth of those characters will always be shaped by the political and social world around us,” he says. “And more often than not,” he says, it’s pretty funny.
Before Volz takes the stage with Anger and Hinds, we asked him some very important questions …
What’s the most surprising thing on your Bucket List?
That I would love to drive a in a NASCAR race. Unfortunately, I think that time has passed. My reflexes were never the fastest, and at my age now, I think the wall and I would have an intimate conversation — and sooner rather than later.
What poster was on your wall in junior high?
It was a whole-wall collage of Sports Illustrated covers. My older brothers started putting them up in the late ’60s, and I continued the tradition after they left for college.
If you were mayor, to whom would you give the key to the city?
I’d mail one out to every address in the city. I think we all should have our own key to get back in if we leave for a while.
What are your preferred pizza toppings?
Pepperoni and onions (white, not red).
If you could be any age for a week, what would it be?
I have never been a fan of woulda-coulda-shoulda. So in order to stay true to myself, I would have to go with 57 — my age today. Now, if I could have the accumulated wisdom and knowledge that I’ve worked my ass off to get in the those 57 years and put it into myself at 26, I’d go with that, because I was a really stupid 26.
What famous person do people say you resemble the most?
When I don’t have my beard, I have been asked (more than once) if I was Liam Neeson, which is kind of funny since he’s 6-foot-5, and on a good day I’m 5-7. I think it’s the cleft in my chin. Which, incidentally, is why my wife has asked me to keep the beard for the past 20 years.
Who would you most like to be stuck with in an elevator?
The best elevator repairman on earth.