One-man show “ChaRICKatures” at The Establishment Theater
Rick Davis has long been known as an improvisational master of many hats and voices, and in his latest one-man show, “ChaRICKatures,” he’ll get the chance to use as many of both as he can in a show that finds the veteran local comedian presenting a show that even Establishment owner Patrick Adamson says is “really performing without a net.”
Davis will eschew the usual practice of improvisation with other partners and instead will partner up with the crowd, playing an interesting game of presenting a handful of celebrities he’ll be impersonating and then having the audience suggestions determine the rest of the show. The crowd will decide what the celebrities do, where the storyline is set and what happens along the way. As such, when I met with Davis over coffee this week, he said he really had no idea what the evening held or what the show would entail.
“It’s really going to be a collaborative exercise, and that’s exciting to me,” he said. “I really like to see where these things go, because it’s really like a choose-your-own-story thing, and every crowd is different. It’s going to be a lot of fun for me, and I hope it is for the crowd too.”
The amiable Davis got his start in comedy early, growing up admiring comics like Dana Carvey and the Wayans brothers before creating his own act and persona in his teens and pursuing it in comedy clubs, before making a splash in the national competition the Jay Leno Comedy Challenge in 1992. He joined up with the then-fledgling Comedy Sportz improvisational troupe that year as well, and has enjoyed a long and fruitful career that’s included everything from a stint as “the Casino Rock Island guy” to a critically-acclaimed acting career in such popular local plays as “Lobby Hero” and “Your Favorite Band.”
As for the new show, it came about due to his desire to perform at a Sportz Studio Series show, but a lack of time to rehearse due to his responsibilities as a full-time single father. “I needed something I could work on at home, when I was home with my son, and so a one-man show made sense to me,” he said.
Inspired by a one-woman show by Jill Bernard, Davis began crafting the outline for “ChaRICKatures” around his popular impersonations of such luminaries as Barney Fife, Michael Keaton, Morgan Freeman, Adam Sandler and Droopy Dog, among others.
“It was a way of doing some one-person improv I’ve been wanting to do for a while, and it’s an opportunity to showcase something completely different, a new flavor, if you will,” Davis said. “I’m really excited to see where it goes.”
He’s palpably excited when discussing “ChaRICKatures” and very much looking forward to the new creation that will come about between him and the audience.
“I’m ready to have some fun and just see what happens,” Davis said. “It’s always exciting to try to stretch my boundaries. I always get into these shows and wonder if I should do this or that, but I figure there’s only one way to find out, and that’s by doing it. But that’s where the fun is, you never know what’s going to happen with improv and the audience doesn’t either. We’re all in this together.”
As for future projects, Davis says his emphasis is always on being a good father first and finding new creative playgrounds that fit around that.
“I’m not sure what’s next, but I’m sure it’ll be fun and exciting,” he added.
9:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 29
The Establishment Theater, 220 19th St., Rock Island
$5 at the door, free with admission to the Comedy Sportz show at 7 p.m.