This live version of the hit TV show has been touring since 1999 to consistently sold-out houses across the Western United States and Canada. The Oregonian said, “Standup is fun, improv is funnier. And these guys are the world’s best!”
Davis was kind enough to share some thoughts on what they do, and his own unique contributions, in this Q&A:
Justine Sutton: Which do you prefer — improv comedy or scripted acting?
Jeff Davis: I like them both but for different reasons. With scripted acting, you have to wait weeks or months to see the finished product, and by that time all the excitement of the moment has long since passed. But with improv, the payoff is immediate. If you’re funny, they laugh. If you’re not, they don’t. The instant gratification is very soothing for our enormous, fragile egos.
JS: Has comedy always come easily to you?
JD: When I started improv I was pretty damn terrified. I was in high school, and nothing is freakier and more perilous than performing for your fellow students. I had enough people picking on me already; the last thing I needed was to make an enormous fool of myself. Then one day, my improv group did a show at an all-girls Catholic school. Three buddies and I, in front of 500 screaming girls. We were like the Beatles. It’s all been downhill from there.
JD: I’m actually terrible at impressions. There are only a few I can do all that well, so I kind of stick with those. People say I do a good Christopher Walken, but I know 20 people who do it way better. My Keanu impression comes from a time when I hung out with him in Vegas. He’s very smart and alert, yet everything he says sounds like a surfer on Quaaludes. And yes, he actually says “whoa” quite a lot.
JS: In Whose Live Anyway?, inventing songs on the spot is one of your specialties. How do you prepare for this?
JD: Improv singing is easier than it looks. Especially when you have a musical director as talented as our guy, Bob Derkach. He’s doing all the hard work. All you have to do is not think too much, then rhyme “car” with “far,” and people think you’re a genius.
JS: On blooper reels, we see actors cracking up in the midst of a scene. Do you ever have laughing fits while performing improv comedy?
JD: I crack up on stage all the time. Ryan makes me laugh the most. He’s funny. Looking. He and I once did a scene where we laughed the entire time. We truly delight ourselves.
JS: What is the most embarrassing suggestion anyone has shouted out from the audience?
JD: People yell out some pretty strange stuff. Especially at shows that serve booze. I think the only time I’m embarrassed by an audience member is when I say “What’s your name, sir?” and then I find out it’s a woman. That happens to me a lot.
JS: How do you like to spend your free time while you’re here in Santa Barbara?
JD: I love Santa Barbara. Lovely town. I’ve never been over to the Channel Islands. Are there whales out there this time of year? I want to see a whale. Seals are nice, too. Maybe I’ll go hang out with some seals.
Click here for more information about UCSB Arts & Lectures or to purchase Whose Live Anyway? tickets online, or call 805.893.3535. Click here to purchase tickets through The Granada Theatre, or call 805.899.2222.
— Justine Sutton is a Santa Barbara freelance writer and frequent Noozhawk reviewer.