The unassuming Loose Moose Theatre Company – tucked quietly away on the top floor of Crossroads Market – humours rows filled with entertainment-seekers night after night. Improvised comedy, or “improv”, as the Theatre’s Artistic Director Dennis Cahill and the Loose Moose crew refer to it, is the name of their game, and what the Company has become synonymous with over its almost 40-year existence in Calgary.
Loose Moose’s year-round schedule is expertly curated to bring different comedy styles and much-needed belly laughs to the city. The company has a simple agenda: to allow performers to perfect their craft of comedy and improv in front of a live audience, and to provide a great night out for those in the seats.
Laughter is an incredible thing and has the power to connect us.
But Loose Moose’s place on the map as the go-to for comedy was not necessarily the intention of the founding members when they started the theatre group back in 1977.
“At that time in the ‘70s, Calgary didn’t have a comedy entertainment scene at all, not to mention a home for improv comedy,” says Cahill, an Albertan who’s performed across the globe – from New York to Sydney to Helsinki – and has developed, directed, written and performed in various productions over the last 28 years.
Loose Moose’s attitude towards the art of comedy is engrained in its culture, passed down through the Loose Moose generations from founder Keith Johnstone, a Professor at the University of Calgary at the time. Johnstone was an experimental risk-taker, encouraging his students to be brave enough to explore new ground in the name of art and creative freedom. Johnstone thought it was high time for Calgary to have a place for young performers to tell stories through their craft, and have the chance to ‘fail gracefully’.
This inability to take itself too seriously has been one of the keys to the company’s success. Today, Loose Moose is an incubator of comedic performance, with an Improv School and a Theatre for Kids program.
So, from the perspective of Artistic Director Cahill, why is it that Loose Moose has earned its title as Best Place for Comedy, and stood the test of time? “We’re all just human, and we laugh at the same things,” says Cahill.
“Laughter is an incredible thing and has the power to connect us. Humour adapts but never really changes. Comedy is often considered to be a little low-brow in the theatre circles, but we think it’s essential.”
Cahill is both optimistic and inspired by the development of the comedy and live mic scene in the city over recent years. In his mind, with more Calgarians and an increasingly diverse, multi-cultural community, there’s simply even more comedy to be had. And that’s good with him.