ASU alumnus brings Outliars Comedy Club to Mill Avenue

Outliars Comedy Club will bring live improv comedy shows to Robbie Fox’s on Mill Avenue beginning with a performance Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

Outliars Comedy Club, which was founded by ASU alumnus and veteran comedian Dave Thurston, is a group of 19 improv comedians who are all former students of Thurston.

Thurston has been involved in comedy for 13 years and got his start performing at the Tempe Improv.

He relocated to Chicago and took improv classes at the Second City Training Center, where comedic greats such as Tina Fey and Stephen Colbert have studied, before moving back to the Phoenix area in 2010 to teach classes.

Thurston’s improv classes are held at the Tempe Center for the Arts. The classes are 10 weeks long, range from beginning to advanced and conclude with a student showcase at the end.

Thurston said that the most challenging thing about improv is getting over the initial fear of performing.

“There is a fear about getting up in front of a group of people,” Thurston said. “My classes are about destroying that illusion of fear.”

During each live show, the comedy club takes suggestions or inspirations for their scenes from the audience and will act out a 10- to 15-minute scene.

“Any given night, we have between five and 13 performers,” Thurston said.

Thurston said that improv differs from stand-up comedy because people tend to wait 45 seconds to two minutes for a joke.

“We allow eight seconds,” Thurston said. “Our emphasis is on laughter, enjoying the show and enjoying it right away.”

Liberal arts and sciences senior Alisha Ratan has been involved in the Outliars group since January.

Ratan searched online for improv classes in Tempe and came across Thurston’s beginning improv class.

She continued taking classes through the advanced level before Thurston approached her to join the Outliars group.

Ratan said the most important thing to remember while doing improv is to avoid overthinking in a scene and just go with your first reaction.

“You have to trust yourself and what comes to mind,” Ratan said. “You also have to trust your theme partner; they are the other half of making a good scene.”

Alumnus John Hoffman performed improv for a year and a half before joining the Outliars comedy group.

“Improv is totally off the cuff, and you have to adapt instantly,” Hoffman said. “It is very real and in the moment.”

Hoffman said performing improv is nerve-racking at first, but worth the experience.

“Doing improv has been therapeutic,” Hoffman said. “You can say whatever you want, put it out there, have it be real and resonate with other people.”

Outliars Comedy Club will perform every Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. Shows are 21 and older. Tickets are $10 each or two for one with an ASU identification card.


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