Hilary Parker | 12/17/2018 | Insider Blogs, Live Performances |   

Upfront Theatre Improv Comedy: Laughs for All Ages

Theatre owner Ryan Stiles (right) makes an occasional onstage appearance, but it's often a surprise. Will he show when you're there?

Here’s a riddle: How do you get teen and pre-teen siblings to agree on something?

Great question! Who knows?

Actually, I have found a solution: A night at the Upfront Theatre.

The Upfront Theatre is Bellingham’s home-grown improv comedy club, owned by an honest-to-goodness funny guy, Ryan Stiles. The Upfront has been entertaining ‘Hamsters since 2004.

As my children have become older, finding things to do as a family is both easier – it doesn’t have to revolve around nap time – and trickier as diverging interests and general teen-age angst comes into play. (Honestly, my kids are not bad at all, but I’m sure adults who have parented through this age range can relate.)

So when I came up with the idea for a night at the Upfront, I was feeling pretty good about myself. We’d been to a BIFT (Beer, Improv, Food Truck) night at Boundary Bay last summer, so the kids had been exposed to an improv/theatresports kind of performance, but this would be little bit different: the Upfront typically presents long-form performances rather than short skits.

Upon sharing my brilliant idea with a friend, I was confronted with: “But isn’t that the Upfront a little adult for your kids?”

Fortunately, I had the answer. I knew that the earlier, 7:30 p.m., show at the Upfront is geared more toward families, and generally, the performers aim to keep their humor fun for all and at a PG or PG-13 level.

As if to prove my point, we walked into the club to see three tables of middle-school aged boys attending the show for a birthday party. A few minutes later, a mom and her two pre-teen/early teen boys sat down behind us. Next to the birthday party sat two women who looked to be in their 70s. College students and middle-aged folks rounded out the audience. The Upfront Theatre really does offer laughs for all ages.

Munching on popcorn and sipping on sodas (there’s a full snack bar, including beer and wine for the 21+ crowd), my kids were already wearing big grins. The show hadn’t even started yet.

        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
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