British Columbia

'It's been a family for me': Queer Improv Society of Vancouver celebrates 13 years of stories and laughs

The Queer Improv Society of Vancouver is celebrating its 13th anniversary Wednesday night at the Junction Pub on Davie Street. The free and inclusive event will kick off the Queer Improv Festival, which is set to help celebrate Pride in B.C. throughout July.

Local queer performance troupe kicks off the Queer Improv Festival

The Queer Improv Society of Vancouver at their Junction Pub show, QueerProv. (Submitted by Daniel Dumsha)

The Queer Improv Society of Vancouver is celebrating its 13th anniversary Wednesday night at the Junction Pub on Davie Street.

The free and inclusive event will kick off the Queer Improv Festival, which will include a diverse set of acts from around Canada throughout July.

The Junction is like a home base for the improv society and their show, QueerProv, says Dan Dumsha, president of the troupe. They come together every Wednesday night to celebrate the queer community and tell queer stories.

Dumsha says the group performs shows with the aim to help create a strong queer community in Vancouver.

"[It's] to say, 'you might be rejected by your family or you might not feel like you belong where you work. But this is a place where you can come and we're really inclusive,'" he told Stephen Quinn, the host of CBC's The Early Edition.

The improv sessions are built around performers asking the audience for ideas, usually with a queer theme, that they then act out. (Submitted by Daniel Dumsha)

Performers ask for suggestions from the audience, usually with a queer theme and then act them out.

"So, if you have two people on stage, it's often going to be [about] same sex partners or kids coming out to their parents."

'These are my people'

Dumsha moved to Vancouver 11 years ago from Toronto, where he was a high school teacher. He spent his first two years in the city auditioning for acting jobs and trying to find friends. 

"When you come to Vancouver, it can be a bit hard to break in," he said.

One year, Dumsha volunteered at a Pride parade where he met a troupe of queer improvisors. 

"I went up to them and heard that they did this improv show and it was all queer players. I thought ... these are my people."

Unlike standup comedy which is a solo performance, improv performers work together to tell a funny story as a team. (Submitted by Daniel Dumsha)

Since then, the improv group has been one of Dumsha's main passions. 

"It's been a family for me. It's been all my friends and my sense of belonging in Vancouver."

Traditionally, queer people have often been the butt of standup comedians' jokes, says Dumsha. Improv is different from standup comedy because the actors try to achieve a laugh together as a team, whereas standup comics are telling jokes solo to a room.

"Together, we're working on creating this story and then comedy is the byproduct of it."

Listen to the full interview here

Queer improv society of Vancouver president Dan Dumsha speaks with Stephen Quinn about the upcoming show. 6:39

With files from The Early Edition