As part of our ‘Winter’tainment series, we caught up with Ben Douglas from the Black Box Improv Theater to get a feel for what’s happening! The ‘Winter’view went something like this:
Josh: I am so excited to talk with you Ben. Y’know you have quite the reputation for being the funny man in this town! So tell me what you got going at the Black Box these days?
Ben: Oh gosh, where to start. Well, we are hard at work on our first real Sketch Show (think Saturday Night Live) that will take place January 19-21. This is the kind of show that calls for rehearsals, and writers and the whole she-bang! It looks to be a really funny endeavor!
Josh: That sounds fun! And interesting. I mean Improv is anything but rehearsed or written, right?
Ben: Right. This is unique for us. Improv really is made up of ‘in-the-moment’ material, and derives from people’s individual experiences. That’s what keeps improv so fresh. It is always something new and different. For us to do a sketch show is great for the audience, but really fun for us as well. Our type of improv is called long-form. It’s more of a narrative style. That lends itself to some really great ‘on-the-spot’ moments. Some hilarious scenarios.
Josh: And you guys have a heckuva group there, am I right?
Ben: There are 70 of us at Black Box. Each one has their own special style. For the sketch show, 6 of us will perform. We will cover everything from pop culture to current events. Not too, too real though….y’know. The world is pretty messy.
Josh: Ummm…in this crazy world, we have enough real to go around!
Ben: Right. Improv lets us practice a kind of escapism. Come in, laugh and get away from it all! Just have a good time with friends.
Josh: And have a drink! I mean, you can drink there right?
Ben: Oh, Josh…yes…we do have drinks, yes. They help with the relaxation part, for sure. We also work hand-in-hand with Pizza Bandit for in-house delivery! Yum! It makes it a complete date night that way.
Josh: Love a good date night…I know you’ve been in Black Box since graduating their program in 2018. Any special memories….and how does one go to Improv School there?
Ben: Special memory-wise, I love doing the improvisational musicals…and our holiday shows are always a hit! On Saturdays, i perform with an in-house group called the Co-Dependents. Never a dull moment there!! As for our program, we have a New Level 1 class starting for those interested on 2/12. You can register through our website https://www.daytonblackboximprov.com/. It takes about 6 months to graduate the program which occurs in a 3-level process. Well structured and lots to learn.
Josh: I know you have been gaining in popularity in the region. What do you attribute that to?
Ben: We are 100% committed to being part of our Community. We have Small Business Saturday shows that feature local business owners! These are always super funny! And, we have our With Special Guest shows that are 2-performer type improv that feature local celebs (recents included Gary Minyard, Dayton Live & Angelina Jackson, Common Pleas Justice).
Josh: Wowzer…that’s cool! Ok, what about kids? People always. ask me….’Are kids welcome? Do kids get parts in shows? Kids this, kids that! Kids…kids….kids!’
Ben: I, uh, well….we do have an incredible program for kids called KidProv! It’s a summer camp and it is a joy for kids. As for our shows…family friendly may be a stretch….but I would say parents get to make that decision!
Josh: You diplomatic boy, you! So give me the deets on Black Box….where, when, etc….
Ben: We are in the Cannery Building at 518 East 3rd Street, downtown Dayton. Our shows take place Wednesdays ($5), Thursdays ($10) Fridays and Saturdays ($15). I would say visit our website often for in-depth stuff. Oh, and, if you are looking to do a private event….Black Box is THE place to do it. There is nothing else like it!
Josh: Ben, you are such a delight to talk with. I am so looking forward to a night at Black Box this winter. I personally am leaning to the Sketch Show! I love that kind of stuff! Thanks for taking a minute for ‘Winter’tainment!
Ben: See ya soon!!