Comedie du Jour Begins Friday Night Residency at The Playground Space
By Susie Davidson
The Playground, Central Square’s newest performance space at 401 Mass. Ave. next to Mama Gaia’s Café, is now hosting a regular Friday night gig for the improv comedy troupe Comedie du Jour. The decision was made following an overwhelming response to the troupe’s four shows in May.
CdJ is a slick ensemble which features veteran performers Joy Carletti, Kara Gelormini, CdJ Producer Guy Hillman, Kyle Jennings, Bob Karish, Matt Keene, Ben Scurria, Cheryl Singleton and Bookings Manager Krista Watson. Auditions this past July brought in 28 applicants; just three, Jenn Gilbert, Rod Begbie, and Jason Grossman, were chosen to round out the pack.
Since its inception in October 1997 by Guy Hillman, an alum of ImprovBoston, and Matt Chapuran, the group’s development has been ably fostered by highly talented directors. Following Chapuran’s departure for grad school, Margaret Ann Brady took the helm. Brady was one half of the acclaimed comedic "Mrs. Potato Head Show," and appeared in the Dream Works SKG film "The Love Letter" with Kate Capshaw, Ellen DeGeneres, and Tom Selleck.
“Comedie du Jour,” explained Hillman, “was originally structured as a small workshop for people to learn and have fun with improvisational comedy. It attracted a group of people who were quite talented. After a few months the group began getting requests to perform on a regular basis, creating the need for a name and a more disciplined approach to the form.
What goes on at the shows? “With just a structure and a suggestion from the audience,” he answered, “CdJ uses the audience’s creativity (or lack thereof) to create unique scenes that are marked by hilarity and intelligence, wit and good old-fashioned humor. CdJ prides itself on its ability to work musical forms into scenes as well; a performance is as likely to include a round of the blues as it is a madrigal or an Irish drinking tune.”
Current director Ron Jones is a Guest Lecturer in Improvisation at Curry College, Arts Instructor at the Brimmer and May School, and a past Instructor in Improvisation at Harvard University. For three decades, Jones has been a key player in local, national, and international improv scenes. He appeared on WGBH/Boston TV’s "Urban Improv," PBS’ "Reaction," and both the 2000 and 2001 Comedy Channel (Canada)’s "North American Improv Championship.” At this event, he coached the American squad and was named Best Actor for 2000. Last summer, his film "Socko & Friends" premiered at the San Francisco Short Film Festival.
The group has made their mark at many top spots. “Comedie du Jour,” said Hillman, “has performed in venues all over New England, including The Comedy Studio in Cambridge, Dick Doherty’s Beantown Madness in Boston, and one of Manhattan’s oldest and most prestigious comedy clubs, Stand-Up NY. Cd has also participated in FringeNYC, the largest performance festival in the United States, and the Greater Boston Improv Festival at the Somerville Theatre. In addition, the troupe was invited by WGBH to perform at a birthday party for Loretta Laroche.”
CdJ, which is also available for any event requiring fast, fun and witty entertainment, was recently included in the Massachusetts Touring Roster, which is funded by The Massachusetts Cultural Council in partnership with the New England Foundation for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. Non-profits who wish to present roster artists in shows can apply to the New England Foundation for the Arts for grants to offset performers’ fees.
The Playground is at the corner of Main Street and Mass. Ave., across from the fire station. Admission is $5, with tickets will be available at the door the night of each performance. For information, visit www.comediedujour.com or call 617-264-7460.