Ryan Stiles is an equal opportunity comedian.
While the Bellingham resident has made a successful career out of joining other celebrities both onscreen and off to spread hilarity throughout the land, the funny fella is just as likely to share the stage with first-year improv students at the Upfront Theatre as he is with those who’ve become used to seeing their names in lights.
I know this from personal experience. As a former performer at the Upfront—the improv and sketch comedy theater Stiles helped found nearly eight years ago—I was lucky enough to be among the first wave of those who benefited from Stiles’ laughter-induced largesse.
What I learned from Stiles over the years is that even if you’re the tallest person in the room and the biggest name onstage—as he often was—that doesn’t mean you can’t step back and let others shine, too. A good performer, in fact, is one that pays attention and listens closely to other players and steps in only when needed.
Which brings me to this weekend. Once again, Stiles is proving he doesn’t have to be the only in under the spotlight. For the third year in a row, the Drew Carrey Show and Whose Line is it Anyway? star will gather famous friends from across the nation for “A Night of Comedy” to benefit the Burned Children Recovery Foundation and their Camp Phoenix program for childhood burn survivors.
While audience members can look forward to seeing Stiles show off his comedic chops for a good portion of the evening’s festivities come Fri., July 27 at the Mount Baker Theatre, they should also expect to be entertained by a variety of seasoned performers.
First off is fellow Whose Line? alumni Jeff Davis. The Los Angeles improviser has made the journey to Bellingham to perform with Stiles many times, and has proven he’s on board with whatever the night has to offer. If show-goers are lucky, they’ll see his Christopher Walken impression sometime during the night.
If Joel Murray looks familiar, well, that’s to be expected. Although he’s one of superstar Bill Murray’s younger brothers, he’s both a small-screen and big-screen name in his own right. From last year’s hilarious turn as a cop in the Oscar-winning movie The Artist to his recent starring role in the twisted film God Bless America, the Second City alum has proven he can handle both comedy and drama in equal measure.
Angelina Jolie won’t be joining the boys onstage, but longtime actress and comedian Mo Collins may show off her version of the pouty-lipped actress during her time at the theater. She may also create someone completely new and different. The MADtv veteran is known for bringing ferociously hilarious characters to life, and I’m pretty sure that’s par for the course where she’s concerned.
Another alumnus of another hit show, Horatio Sanz, will round out the roster. As a cast member of Saturday Night Live during 2005-2006, some of Sanz’s most memorable impressions included Ozzy Osbourne, Rosie O’Donnell, and Aaron Neville. Don’t be surprised if you don’t recognize him right off, however, as the formerly husky actor has dropped more than 100 pounds since his time on the hit show.
As of press time, tickets to Ryan Stiles’ “Night of Comedy” were selling fast, so don’t put off buying tickets until the last second. After all, it’s not every day—or night—that famous friends share the stage.
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