Chandler club offers comedy as acts and lessons - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler club offers comedy as acts and lessons

May 10th, 2018 development
Chandler club offers comedy as acts and lessons

By Colleen Sparks, Managing Editor


Children, teens and adults can get some comic relief and learn how to think on their feet at an unusual business in downtown Chandler.

Unlike venues where comedians tell jokes parents might not think are suitable for young ears, ImprovMANIA Comedy Club offers improv shows, classes and musicals appropriate for all ages.

Husband-and-wife comedy team David and Colleen Specht own the club, which they opened in September 2014.

The parents of two children had been performing improv with another company in Scottsdale.

“We just both lived in Chandler and we thought, there’s nothing like this in Chandler,” David said. “We got married in downtown Chandler. We just thought, ‘Let’s take a chance. All we need is a handful of people every weekend to have it make sense.’ It was profitable from day one.”

ImprovMANIA Comedy offers an all-ages, family-friendly improv show at 7 p.m. every Friday and Saturday. Audiences can catch the unfiltered improv show geared toward adults at 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

A stand-up comedy show in which comedians individually deliver their scripted jokes occurs every Saturday at 10 p.m. A teen improv troupe hits the stage the fourth Saturday of the month at 5 p.m.

The improv comedy shows are “really, really interactive,” David said.

“It’s really a one-of-a-kind show,” he said. “Nobody does it like we do.”

Like on the TV show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” audience members come up with topics and characters for the performers to create on stage. The unfiltered shows have “more of a storyline” and are “more complex,” David said.

The shows for audiences of all ages are “a little bit faster-paced, more visual,” he added.

About 12 regular performers usually perform in the improv shows, including David and Colleen.

David took classes at The Second City in Chicago while Colleen performed in the improv troupe in Scottsdale where the couple met.

By day, David recruits employees for companies and provides team building and corporate training.

After earning a business degree at Illinois State University with a minor in communications in 1998, he decided to try improv, so he took classes and loved it.

Colleen holds a master’s degree in education and a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies from Arizona State University.

Because no one is born knowing the rules and tools of improv, the Chandler company offers lots of classes for children, teens and adults.

A class for ages 8-12 takes place noon-1 p.m. on Saturdays. The monthly classes culminate with a performance for family members and friends at the end of the month.

“It’s really, really fun,” David said. “We’ve got kids that stay in the class for two or three years.”

The improv classes teach people about listening, agreement and teamwork, he added.

Young people 13 to 18 can enroll in the teens’ improv club, which meets from 1 to 2 p.m. Saturdays for a month and also wraps up with a performance.

Adults with no experience can take classes offered about once a quarter 7-9 p.m. on Tuesday nights. A class for adults with some previous experience doing improv rehearses Monday nights and performs Thursday nights.

Anyone looking for a way to boost communication in a company can sign up their team for corporate training at ImprovMANIA.

Typically, groups of about seven to 30 employees will spend two and a half hours in a workshop learning to trust each other and how to deal with difficult situations and not judge each other, David said.

“Everybody does it for different reasons,” he said. “They don’t all want to perform. Some of them just want to get better in front of people.”

Besides teaching groups how to bond and draw chuckles, ImprovMANIA Comedy Club in February started Chandler Youth Theater, where youths perform in musicals.

A cast performed “Willie Wonka Jr.” in March and a cast of 25 children ages 6 to 17 will hit the stage in “Peter Pan” June 2 and 3.

David said he expects 40 kids ages 6 to 17 will perform in “Shrek the Musical Jr.” probably sometime in August.

ASU junior Audrey Pfeifer, who is studying theater and obtaining a certificate in secondary education, is the Chandler Youth Theater director.

“We have kids in Chandler used to driving to youth theaters all over the Valley,” he said. “They’re also really, really happy and surprised with the quality of our production.”

Ryan Johnson of Ahwatukee performs with the group during the unfiltered improv shows and does stand-up comedy solo at ImprovMANIA.

His son, Lucky, 10, and daughter Zinnia, 8, have been taking the children’s improv classes at the business.

“I just can see that it can only help their future lives whatever it is,” he said.

David is thrilled with the support. All the family offerings are what seem to be most appreciated. We’ve had birthday parties. We had an engagement happen at our show. It’s just been really, really well received,” he said.

About 100 people can sit in the audience at the theater and the intimate gathering means “you really get involved when you’re the audience,” David said.