Todd Houseman has been improvising with Rapid Fire Theatre since the summer of 2009 and is currently a senior member of the company. He was accepted to the company after performing in the high school improv tournament, the Wildfire festival where he performed in the Canadian Improv Games as well as the Nosebowl. Through Rapid Fire, Todd has had the pleasure of performing in weekly shows such as Theatresports and Chimprov and has followed and will continue to follow the company from Varscona, to Citadel, to the Moon! Rapid Fire has seen Todd perform in the prestigious, international, improv festival Improvaganza as well as the Vancouver international Improv Festival and has sent him to Various Fringe festivals across Canada. Todd currently co-teaches a weekly improv class to high school students at Boyle Street Education Centre. Along with being an improviser Todd is also a local actor who has appeared on stage as well as on television in the tv show Delmer and Marta. Todd was born and raised on treaty 6 land in Edmonton Alberta.
In his free time Todd interprets his families Cree ancestry at Fort Edmonton Park and within the aboriginal arts community.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE:
TV shows: Twin Peaks and Battelstar Galactica
Movies: There Will Be Blood, Kill Bill and all of The Lord of the Rings
Video Game: Call of Duty Black Ops, but only when I’m shooting Nazi zombies.
Music: I’ve always liked the Flaming Lips. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots is my favourite album of theirs.
Piece of clothing: My pants. You can’t leave the house without your pants.
Food: Tacos are my favourite food, and Phobulous is my favourite restaurant.
Place in Edmonton: The entire river valley. All of it.
Travel destination: My cabin near Jasper is my favourite place on earth. I love the mountains.
Guilty pleasure: Coffee and cigarettes.
How did you wind up playing with Rapid Fire?
I played in RFT’s high school tournament, the WildFire Festival, for two years. I started in Grade 11 and in Grade 12 I became team captain and won the MVI, Most Valuable Improviser award, so that sent me to Vancouver at the Improv Camp. That was the most fun I’ve had in my life and it really solidified improv in my existence. That was in 2009.
What’s your favourite improv game?
My favourite is probably Hecklers, where two players sit in the audience and heckle the other players while they try to do a scene. It’s been banned because it’s been played too many times. I like being the heckler. Another favourite is Kick It. That’s when you start a scene and when the host says “kick it” you instantly start rapping the rest of the scene. It?s a huge challenge, but it’s great when it works.
Who are your improv role models?
I think most people here have the same improv role models. Mark Meer is a huge inspiration. It’s incredible how naturally improv comes to him. The other veteran players are also big role models. People like Chris Craddock and Bill Minsky are these people are solid improvisers. It’s always a pleasure to watch them and see perfect improv.
What is “perfect” improv?
Well, there are always key ingredients to making a “perfect” scene. You have to cover characters, location, conflict, raising the stakes and resolution. If you can do those so naturally that you’re simply having a conversation with another improviser on stage that’s what I?d call “perfect” improv.
Tell us about The Brontosaurus Laughter House.
The Brontosaurus Laughter House is one of the CHiMPROV troupes I’m in. We create a landscape like a city or a small town and stuff like that. Then we do a bunch of scenes that jump around in there. For example we might set up a strange city made of bunkers, and then we can say that it’s full of cats, no wait, giant robotic cats and mad scientists. Then we would create scenes in various locations inside the bunker-cat city.
Tell us about the improv work you do with inner city youth.
Joleen Ballendine and I teach at-risk youth. Teaching has been an amazing new improv experience for me. This kids need improv to help them open up and be in an environment where everyone has each other’s back. It can be difficult because most of these kids don?t really want to play games. They all have these very thick shells that they don?t want to shed at first. But once they open up it’s tons of fun because you can tell they really enjoy it.
What do you do to fill your time when you’re not improvising?
I have hobbies. I like to make things out of cardboard and duct tape. You can make anything out of cardboard and duct tape. I’ve made a giant orange robot. I’ve also made a giant spider, and any nerdy helmet you can think of, all drawn from inspiration I find in comic books. I also like to draw, read comic books and listen to music, you know, that old thing.
Describe working for RFT in a sentence.
Working for Rapid Fire Theatre is a constant riot.