Toledo has a pretty good comedy scene, if you know where to look. Our only comedy club is technically in Perrysburg, and our only open mic is in a pizza restaurant, but the scene still survives. That’s why it’s great to hear that you can see comedy at The Valentine Theatre every month. Specifically the improv comedy stylings of The Monthly, an improv exhibition created by Nick Morgan and other local improvisors with a one-year anniversary show coming up. Morgan recently took some time to talk about the show, his improv past, and what to expect at the anniversary show on Friday, March 30.
From Glass City to Windy City and back
Back in 2001, Nick Morgan moved from Toledo to Chicago for an accounting job and came across the famous improv theater The Second City. After going to a show he began to take improv classes there, eventually performing and producing various shows. He spent 10 years in Chicago, learning from such great improvisors as Keegan Michael-Key and Mike O’Brien, who’s also from Toledo. Then after a brief time in Washington, DC, Morgan moved back to Toledo a few years ago.
“I just got to the point in my life where I was done with that whole life, the ‘It takes hours to get anywhere while driving’ crowds, the cost of living, and whatnot,” Morgan explained, “plus I have family around here.”
But coming back home did not change his desire for improv. After auditioning for Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap at The Valentine in 2012, Morgan said to a friend, “This space is perfect for an improv show.” A few years later, Morgan decided to start a formal improv training course, using the talents he gained at Second City. So, Morgan began offering classes at The Toledo Repertoire Theater, where he was a trustee.
“The board agreed to the classes, but we had no idea what to expect in terms of interest,” he explained. “We were blown away by the quantity and quality of people that were itching to take this kind of class.” After a few classes, Morgan realized that his students (and Morgan himself) needed a dedicated place to train and perform.
The Valentine venue
That’s where The Valentine comes in. Elizabeth Cottle, manager of support services for The Valentine, knew Morgan from having directed him in The Mousetrap back in 2012. So Morgan, along with fellow teachers Erin Kanary and Martin Verni, pitched the idea of a monthly improv show. Members of Morgan’s improv classes would perform short-form improv games (like Who’s Line Is It Anyway?) at the start of the show. Then Morgan, along with fellow teachers Verni, Kanary, and Diana Di Pasquale, would finish it off with a half-hour long-form improv scene, born from a single suggestion.
That pitch became The Monthly, now celebrating its first anniversary with a show on Friday, March 30.
The upcoming anniversary show will also have a “third act” for the audience. “It will be an open improv jam where anyone will have the opportunity to get on stage,” Morgan explained. “It’ll be very loose and unstructured; a celebration of the improv community as a whole, not just our show.” Plus, Erin Kanary has designed shirts that will be sold and given away during the show.
“Improv can deeply affect lives”, said Morgan. “It’s therapeutic getting to overcome anxieties and fears with others to make something that’s not only funny, but fun for the performers and the audience.” Morgan’s passion, and that of those he teaches, will be on display at The Monthly.