Posted 12.12.11 @ 13:3 by: Staff

Gary Pearson, or @CaptainPearson as he’s known to his many twitter followers, likes to hear audiences laugh. “Whether it’s in a live show, or whether I’m doing a television show, I like to come up with a clever joke that I think somebody’s going to laugh at, or a story that people are going to respond to… I feel like that’s what I’m supposed to do”, Gary tells us. And that’s precisely what he does as a ‘triple threat’ writer, television producer and actor.

Gary has written for MADtv, Corner Gas, This Hour Has 22 Minutes and The Ron James Show; and is the Producer of YTV’s That’s So Weird. Alongside former Theatre Sports Toronto alumni and Oakville friends Amy and Duncan McKenzie, Gary helped found Oakville’s Bad Dog Theatre Company.

The McKenzie/Pearson “triumvirate” teaches Improvisation (Improv) and presents local performances, featuring beginners of all ages alongside top talent from Second City and other groups. “I think ‘Improv’ means different things to different people, Gary says, there’s that path that takes you from your first improv class to being a movie star like Mike Myers and then there’s a lot of other paths in-between. The more common thing is that it helps you develop in performing in front of the public, in whatever capacity, giving you more confidence to make you feel more at ease and to have fun when you’re standing in front of an audience. Or, even in personal interactions, just opening yourself up to more ideas and saying ‘Yes’ to possibilities are some of the things improv teaches you. And those kinds of things help anybody really! I’ve seen lots of people who were completely closed-off, completely scared really to do anything in front of other people. Then they come to an improv class and it’s like opening up a window and letting some air in. Finally they think ‘oh, hey, I can have more fun in my life than I’ve been having, and I can be opened up to a lot of different possibilities, and I can explore the idea of being someone else as a character and I can explore stories and having these kind of fun interactions with other people. It’s a social thing as well. So there’s a lot of benefit to it, which doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to become a movie star. The closing yourself off, and not wanting to embarrass yourself, that happens surprisingly young. So lots of kids are doing that already, by the time they’re in high school. As you know, high school is like a really embarrassing time. People are in puberty, and they don’t know what to do with their feelings, and lots of people just want to hide for that period anyway.

Amy would like to continue to take this spirit-lifting experience even further, to help people with special needs. “When people say it changes their life, that’s pretty exciting! When a kid says their parents say that they’re doing better at school, or they’re having a better time presenting, that’s cool. When they tell me, because the kid has Asperger’s or a learning disability, that this is a place that they feel like they can be themselves and use the thing that’s in their head; and not just their writing skills or whatever holds them back in school. And they can’t be wrong… When they make a choice in improv it’s not going to be a wrong one, so it’s kind of liberating for them.”

You can see Bad Dog perform on December 30th at Central Baptist Church: 340 Rebecca Street in Oakville, and in their monthly Comedy Jams at The Moonshine Café. For more info on their Improv Classes, visit ComedyU.com.

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