Except for one performance, by Todd Barry last August, they don’t do stand-up. It is an improv theater. Also, despite the branch that was once in its building closing in 2006, people still think it’s a Secretary of State location. Go Comedy! opened in November 2008.
“It’s amazing the difference between the improv community and stand-up communities. Stand-up … people want you to fail because everyone is a direct competitor,” Chris DiAngelo says, who works with PJ Jacokes and Tommy LeRoy at Go Comedy!
“Once people start doing improv, they love it,” he says. Over the time it’s been open, they’ve seen more and more people become passionate about it.
“The way improv works, it’s very group-oriented and team-oriented,” DiAngelo says. “People will come to the theater even if they’re not performing that night to be in the environment and see the shows and be supportive.”
Go Comedy! is open Wednesdays through Sundays and its schedule includes an open-mic night, written sketches and short plays on Thursdays, and the resident cast performs on the weekend. Jacokes and DiAngelo perform as part of the group The Mighty They on Sundays; LeRoy prefers to stay behind the scenes. Each one and has a different niche in their comedy business that they didn’t find in school. All of their training came on the job at local clubs. The fourth founder, Gerald Knight, helps in the decision-making process on occasion.
Jacokes runs their comedy training program, Go U, which offers classes on sketch writing and acting as well as advanced programs.
They currently have 90 students. At the end of each two-month semester, each class puts on a show on a Monday or Tuesday. LeRoy, who does building maintenance and set/prop building, learned at Second City Theatre when it was downtown.
“It was so natural for me to get into the tech side of theater … it just was so natural to make props and learn how to work a light board and sound cues,” LeRoy says.
DiAngelo is the artistic director and does scheduling, hiring and casting. While he has had success doing stand-up, he prefers improv.
“It’s just a different beast,” he says. “It’s so alone. Improv is so much more fun.”
Jacokes offered a metaphor to compare the two. “I always felt stand-up was like golf and improv is like basketball.”
They’ve also spent a varied amount of time in college. LeRoy went for three weeks and still passed a class, thanks to a friend’s notes he got day before the final. Jacokes has a degree in general studies from the University of Michigan, which, he says, “is basically a bachelor’s of trying to figure out what the hell I’m going to do.” DiAngelo changed his major at Western Michigan University “about 10 times” until he took a year off and realized college wasn’t for him.
If the comedy is not enough, Go comedy! also has a full bar, with 30 plus different beers, rare liquors and a slew of specialty shots that are crafted for the purpose of challenging friends to drink something nasty.
“Our bartender’s really good at drinking,” LeRoy says. An example of his prowess? Try a BLT shot, complete with a mayonnaise rim. | RDW
Go Comedy! is located at 269 E. Nine Mile Rd. in Ferndale • 248.327.0575 • Wednesday-Sunday, 7 p.m.-2 a.m. • gocomedy.net