Hello City's local flavours | Arts & Culture | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

Hello City's local flavours

The monthly improv show wants to entertain you where you live.

click to enlarge Hello City's local flavours
Ian Selig
Liam Fair and Stepheny Hunter help turn your gripes into comedy.

Hello City w/Stewart Legere
Thursday, January 11, 7:30pm
The Bus Stop Theatre, 2203 Gottingen Street

Love it or hate it, Halifax isn't going anywhere. So why not rejoice and commiserate together through the art of theatre and storytelling? If that sounds appealing, the new monthly improv show Hello City aims to highlight the Haligonian experience—for better and for worse—with light-hearted skits and jokes, while also building the city's improv scene.

"The nice thing about improv is it's positive, fun and cathartic," says creator Liam Fair, who believes all Haligonians have stories to tell that are uniquely Halifax in terms of theme and feel—and sometimes even setting. "Everyone has a good Pizza Corner story."

Fair, alongside his co-producer Stepheny Hunter, conceptualized Hello City as a way to re-introduce improv to Halifax as something more entrenched in the community, versus simply fun and games. "We've had improv in the city, but I never felt like anything really connected with the city itself," says Fair.

Staying true to its goals, the show features community members who share their stories with the audience, which then inspire skits throughout the night. Hunter says creating a space for people to laugh and learn is a major goal for the nine-member troupe.

"Bringing in speakers from diverse backgrounds is important to us," says Hunter. "Our format is great because it brings in a guest who we can appreciate for each show."

Helping kick off Hello City's first show of 2018 on Thursday, January 11 is local musician and theatre artist Stewart Legere, who will share his stories of being a creative person living in Halifax. Fair says all themes are fair game, but topics like New Year's resolutions and last week's weather-bomb are likely to receive the improv treatment this time around. Whatever happens, he guarantees a one-of-a-kind show.

"In comparison to stand-up, it's an act that only happens once because it isn't planned," says Fair. "It's hard to explain an improv show after it happens because you really have to be there to get it—that's what makes it special."

Improv's spontaneity and "give and take" with the audience is part of what makes it such an energizing and entertaining art form. It's that unique experience that Hunter says is becoming something more people are seeking out. "It's so easy to stay home and watch Netflix," she says. "We think Hello City has the potential to become a thing audiences look forward to every month, kind of like a '90s dance night."

On top of putting on a good show and making audiences laugh, Fair and Hunter, who will soon take over as regional directors for the Canadian Improv Games, hope Hello City—which is named after the Barenaked Ladies' Halifax-hating song—will help foster a local interest for the craft. With plans to teach classes this year, they believe their show is the first step towards a healthier improv scene, and they aim to inspire while entertaining.

"I hope people will just laugh and feel good," says Fair. "In improv you find yourself laughing at the dumbest stuff, but in that moment you're having the best time."

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