A local improv comedy team is about to see if it pays to be funny.
John Hollingsworth, Dave Lane and Chris Reid are collectively known as The Fidgets. For 11 years they’ve honed their on-stage skills with their antics, keeping it clean and appropriate for all audiences.
That is partly why they recently won the attention of a distributor from Nashville who wants to shop their comedy to major media service providers like Netflix and Amazon Prime.
“We are crazy ecstatic about it,” says Hollingsworth. “We’re still pinching ourselves to make sure it’s real.”
Crown Entertainment has requested rights to distribute one-hour specials and 23-minute episodes of The Fidgets in action.
“No one is buying DVDs anymore,” said Hollingsworth. “Streaming content is how you get exposure these days.”
A lot has changed in the industry since Hollingsworth began performing improv at university. He liked the excitement of unscripted and unpredictable shows.
His first improv troupe in Sarnia was called No Laughing Matter and lasted five years. Soon after, the late Jim Stokley urged Hollingsworth to put a new group together and hold an improv night at the old Industry Theatre. They packed the place.
The Fidgets went on to do numerous tours across Canada, as well as perform countless shows to help non-profits raise money.
In 2018, the troupe did a spring tour of western Canada and a fall tour to nine Ontario cities.
In December, Crown Entertainment reached out to Hollingsworth and they talked about the demand for The Fidgets’ brand of “guilt-free” comedy.
“The Fidgets perform the kind of show that a streaming service would be interested in,” Crown Entertainment co-owner Brad Mix said in a release.
“It’s comedy that appeals to a broad audience: smart, funny and clean.”
Hollingsworth, Lane and Reid are convinced working with a distributor is the best way to build on their credibility and draw bigger crowds at this point.
“Having streaming content has a snowball effect,” said Hollingsworth. “Brad was honest with me. You don’t get rich with this but you build your audience. Bigger audiences get you bigger venues.”
The Fidgets plan a five-city ‘Speak No Evil’ tour in British Columbia and Alberta the first week of February.
At the Vernon Centre for Performing Arts, they intend to hire a crew and produce a show for Crown Entertainment. It’s a pricey endeavor, said Hollingsworth.
“We’re going to spend less than a lot of others spend on their content but we still need about $11,000,” he said. “The scary thing for me is that there are so many details and I am not a detail kind of guy.”
The Fidgets have started a crowdfunding campaign (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-fidgets-comedy-laugh-with-your-family-again#/) that has raised $6,000 in the past month.
“We’ll see where it goes,” said Hollingsworth. “Crown Entertainment scopes out comedy acts and says they see potential in us.
“There are no guarantees. They are very upfront about that, but their interest tells us we’re doing a good job and building a good reputation.”
The Arts Journal reflects all the great things that contribute to Sarnia’s cultural fabric. Got an idea? Contact Cathy Dobson at [email protected] or call 226-932-0985.