If more people are staying home for their entertainment, the trend doesn’t seem to be affecting Red Deer’s improvisation and sketch comedy troupe, Bull Skit.
Live audiences for the home-grown comedy shows have steadily increased over the past seven seasons — despite the couch-potato trend of some people watching endless rounds of episodic television.
You could say Bull Skit is binge-proof.
“I feel like this show’s found a place in Red Deer,” said co-founder Jenna Goldade, artistic director of Against the Wall Theatre. “When you say Bull Skit, people now know who we are.”
Although Goldade admits to watching her share of TV, she feels there’s a time to switch off Netflix and enjoy a night on the town — and she believes others are discovering this, too. “I think more people are wanting to get out, see some comedy and have a drink in a social environment. …”
On the strength of sellout monthly shows, Bull Skit has been diversifying to offer various theme nights three weekends of every month in Red Deer.
Downton Abbey fans have gotten down with the Bull Skit spoof Shabby Abbey. Pugnacious theatre-sports lovers have cheered on their favourite teams during Thespian Fight Club nights. And others have opted to Get White Trashed, or taken their kids to afternoon Calf Skit shows for irreverent takes on well-loved fairy tales.
As well, regular Veal Skit and Bull Prov shows give up-and-coming troupe members an audience and allow more seasoned Bull Skit members to test out new material.
Of course, mid-month Bull Skit shows continue to be the main event.
The regular Bull Skit season winds down next week at the Scott Block in downtown Red Deer. Best-of performances will be held Thursday, Friday and Saturday, May 21 to 23, offering a smorgasbord of favourite sketches from the past season — different ones each night — as well as a variety of musical guests.
Ol’ Boots and the Hoots will perform old-time country music on Thursday, Discmen will play ’90s tribute tunes on Friday and The Dirrty Show duo are back from a successful Australian tour to entertain on Saturday.
Goldade describes this three-day finale as an exciting cap to a busy season.
She plans to appear as bun-headed Princess Leia in a Star Wars spoof — joined by Luke Skywalker (Riley Deschambault) and Leroy the in-bred Jedi (Daniel Vasquez), running amok with his light sabre.
Young wizards Harry, Ron and Hermione, will marvel over such mundane Muggle technologies as cellphones and iPads in a Harry Potter spoof.
Three slasher movie villains will perform a bloody version of the wedding-standard love song Amazed by Lonestar, while other parodies are done of Time Warp from The Rocky Horror Picture Show and beloved songs from Frozen.
As well, audiences will get reacquainted with reoccurring Bull Skit characters, including Hot Cop and the woman who lusts after him, the naive (read dim-witted) college students Alice and Sarah, as well as their “Russian ripoff” equivalents, Alexei and Sergei, and ghetto gals, Ashley and Stephanie.
And, yes, there will be a 50 Shades of Grey parody — pairing the titillating novel with Oscar Wilde’s soul-selling anti-hero, Dorian Grey.
Thinking back to 2008, Goldade said it’s funny that Bull Skit was only started to finance more serious Against the Wall Theatre productions. The Red Deer College Theatre Studies graduate, who cofounded the company with Amy Erlandson, added the idea of doing dramas was soon dropped because Bull Skit became so much fun to do — and went over so well with audiences.
Over the years, the troupe has spoofed everything from Sesame Street puppets to terrorists and local celebrities.
While there’s been a regular turnaround in cast members, requiring the recruitment and training of newbies, Goldade believes the shows continue to showcase some very talented Central Albertan performers.
Nine are in the troupe currently — from theatre graduates to moonlighting government workers and people in a variety of other professions.
Has anything else changed?
“I think we’re funnier,” said Goldade, whose group has become seasoned by turning out 20 to 30 original sketches monthly.
Tickets for the Best of Bull Skit 8 p.m. shows are $23 nightly, or a $40 festival pass for all three nights is available from www.BullSkitComedy.com. (There is a cash bar and mature language and themes).
Other upcoming dates:
l Calf Skit puts on a family-friendly Cinderella at 2 p.m. on May 23. Veal Skit performs at 7:30 p.m. on June 12 and 13, and an annual Bull Skit fundraiser will be held on July 4 (an all-day event). These are all at the Scott Block Theatre.
l A Calf Skit performance will also take place at the Red Deer Children’s Festival on June 6 and at Lacombe Days on July 24 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
l Thespian Fight Night will be held on June 9, July 14, and Aug. 11 at Fratters Speakeasy. (Watch for summer dates for Shabby Abbey and Bull Prov at www.BullSkitComedy.com).
l Bull Skit’s Season 8 starts on Sept. 24 at the Scott Block with Sketchfest, featuring members of 10 Alberta sketch comedy troupes.
l The new season of Bull Prov and regular monthly Bull Skit shows will start in October.