The Comic Strippers will soon return to Kamloops, with a saucy improv performance planned for Saturday, Sept. 9, at the Sagebrush Theatre.
The group has been performing the show for 11 years and has toured across Canada and internationally. The fictitious male stripper troupe includes characters — all of whom happened to be named Chip — played by Roman Danylo, Chris Casillan, Pearce Visser and Ken Lawson.
Lawson, a former Kamloops resident who grew up in Logan Lake, said he has a newfound enthusiasm for bringing the show to the stage, following the lengthy absence of live audiences due to the pandemic.
"We love physical audiences. They're way better than illusionary audiences," Lawson told KTW with a laugh. "It's not surprising, but we really do feel that crowds are even more enthusiastic and appreciative, which has been very fulfilling and actually quite emotional at times.”
Everything the Comic Strippers do on stage is improvised and inspired by audience suggestions, including singing and "ridiculous dances that we have no right to be doing," Lawson said.
Physiques of the performers range from shabby to svelte, but confidence is sky-high across the board. Lawson said the show is "super inclusive."
"Just look at us. We're built like regular people. Anyone can achieve this. This is your body. Let's just have fun, be kind and create some joy together," he said.
Like his fellow performers, Lawson is also a TV and film actor. One of his most recent highlights is a guest star appearance on the CBS sitcom So Help Me Todd, where he got a chance to test the improv abilities of Academy Award winner Marcia Gay Harden.
At the end of Lawson's first scene with the actress, he took a chance and it paid off.
"It was like four days of me going, 'Oh my god, I'm making Academy Award winner Marcia Gay Harden laugh,' and the director was loving it," he said, praising Harden as a skilled improviser.
Before Lawson hit the silver screen, he performed in Kamloops, taking the stage with a number of bands and rocking out with local musicians like Henry Small, Kris Ruston and Sean Luciw.
One local claim to fame is when one of his bands, Cozy Gelpod, opened a show in Kamloops for Nickelback, which was an independent band at time and hadn't yet broken through to its international fame.
"We were really angry at them because they wouldn't lend us their drums. Why wouldn't they lend us their drums? Jesus," Lawson said, laughing.
Lawson recalled receiving positive feedback from the club owner at the time, who said his band had outplayed the soon-to-be sensation.
"Six months later, they were the biggest band in the world," Lawson said.
Lawson said he is looking forward to his return to Kamloops and plans to give it his all on the Sagebrush stage.
"I think I'm laughing more than ever during the show. I know my job is to have a good time. That's the coolest part of this gig. When I'm having a blast, the audience is, too," he said.
Tickets to the 19-plus show are available through the Kamloops Live box office, online at kamloopslive.ca or by phone at 250-374-5483. Showtime for the Sept. 9 event is 8 p.m.