Pretty in plaid: this Regina improv team flexes the strength in diversity

Watch this small improv team overcome the odds in the Canadian Improv Games Series on CBC Gem.
Introducing the Plaid Lads — or, P.L.A.H.D. (Plaid Lads Against Homophobic Do-Bads.)

Started from Regina, now they're here. The Plaid Lads improv team qualified for the Canadian Improv Games (CIG) national competition in Ottawa – the second team in Luther College High School history to do so. 

They've come a long way from across the prairies. They had to win regional competitions in Saskatchewan to qualify for the finals. And now they've finally made it to the massive stage at the National Arts Centre.

The Plaid Lads are one of the most diverse teams competing at the CIGs. It's where their team name (and snappy dressing style) comes from. Kieran, a member of the improv team, says that plaid is a symbol of diversity. "It's a bunch of colours and lines and patterns coming together to form something beautiful," he says. 

Being from diverse backgrounds allows the team to pull from different lived experiences while performing on stage. "These cultural strings that each of us can tug onto, it's really made our friendship stronger. We are much greater [together] than we would be separate," says Kieran.

Seeing the Plaid Lads perform at nationals strikes an emotional chord with Andrew Phung, who watches them from backstage. He remembers being the only performer of colour when he first started doing improv in his hometown of Calgary.

The Plaid Lads are a musically-inclined team. Instead of performing simple dialogue scenes, they sing, play instruments and use choruses to make a four-minute musical with 15 seconds of planning. 

During the first night of competition at the CIG nationals, the audience gives the Plaid Lads a prompt for a title of their improvised musical: Unicorns Are Real.

Phung watches with glee in the wings of the theatre as six performers take turns singing their hearts out. Off-centre from the stage are two performers improvising drum beats on boxes and piano chords from an iPad app.

Using their musical chops, the Plaid Lads score highly with the judges and advance to the final championship game. But will they win the entire competition? Stream the 2019 Canadian Improv Games to find out.