Speakeasy with Rory Scovel

Image Rory Scovel is one of comedy's rapidly rising stars, and arguably the most original act currently working the circuit. While he’s a gifted joke writer and story teller, it’s his other-worldly improv skills that makes each of his truly unique performances stand out in the world of stand-up. On Saturday, Nov. 12, Scovel is bringing his Dilated Imagination Tour to Atlanta’s Relapse Theatre.

This will be the third time in a little more than a year that you’re performing at Atlanta’s Relapse Theatre. What is it about the venue that keeps bringing you back there?
Well this whole tour was actually inspired by those first two shows at the Relapse, both of those shows having been about 90% improv. I really only get to do shows like that every so often. Those shows made me want to put together a tour after the album, where I can do material from the album, but also be free to just do improv.

So is the tour more to promote your album, or to be free to improvise?
It’s a mix of both. Originally I just wanted to improvise every single show start to finish, but it’s going to depend on the environment. I would like to use this tour to get out of my comfort zone though.

How do you know when it’s going to be an improv show versus a more standard show?
It definitely has to do with the set-up of the room. The first time I did Relapse the room was so fun, and it just felt very comfortable. There was no stage, the crowd was just there. The second time I did it there was a stage and it affected me because it didn’t feel like a living room performance, but I’m trying to get better about not letting the room or crowd control me.

Is not knowing what you’re going to do always fun for you, or is it occasionally to nerve-racking to enjoy?
I would say the majority of the shows I do I enjoy. That’s not always the audience having fun necessarily, but I have a great time the majority of the time.

Was improv an expansion of your stand-up or something you did altogether separately?
When I started doing stand-up in D.C., I was taking improv classes. So anytime I didn’t have improv, I was at open mics just trying to get on stage. I was doing improv before I even got stage time for stand-up, so by the time I got to do stand-up I already had started to develop improv skills, so it just became a part of my style. It helps though, I’ve definitely gotten myself out of shitty situations on stage because of improv.

Since this is your first album, is it a cumulation of your best jokes from over the years, or just the best hour of material you’re doing right now?
That was a big debate I had with myself, but most of the album is just the stuff I’m doing right now. But I definitely think the album is reflective of what I do, so there are some moments that are super slow that sort of make me cringe, but that’s sort of where I’m at right now professionally. There are still moments in my act that I’m working out. There are sounds of clinked glass and tables clearing in the background, and I felt dishonest not leaving those in there because that’s where I’m at right now in my career, and those are still the venues that I do most of the time. There are some older jokes on the album though, because the only way you can move away from material is to just kind of stop doing it, and I felt like the jokes that I want to move away from, it would be nice to have some of these recorded before I just throw them away and stop doing; and it kind of feels good to use them as a benchmark, knowing this is where I was, and I have something new to work towards now that the album is done.

The show beings at 8 p.m., tickets are $10.

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