Certain cities are known for comedy. Providence may not have the brand recognition that other cities have, but we’ve got more than our fair share of talented comedians and improv groups cutting their teeth on any stage they can find. Wage House, which opened in the Lorraine Mills in Pawtucket earlier this year, is the latest addition to that community.
“You always hear people talking about how if you want to do comedy you have to go to New York or LA. We both love Rhode Island, so we’re not really interested in making that big move,” explains Casey Regan who, along with Kate Teichman, opened Wage House in February with the debut of their improv show Kate and Casey. “We love hearing people say, ‘We didn’t know you could see this here.’ That’s our vision – putting stuff on stage that we’re really proud of and excited to share with people.”
“I think we were looking to challenge ourselves, our audience and our students,” Kate says of opening Wage House. “We’re trying to cultivate a stage that is at a higher bar for us and for our audience. We want to have this be a really fun, thoughtful night.”
In many ways, Kate and Casey was the pilot episode of Wage House, a way to set the tone for the space. It was a hilarious hour of long-form improv that ran the gamut of a husband and wife who couldn’t be farther from on the same page about sex and family (she had a firm one-and-done view on conception; he believed the key to true love was a perfect croissant) to two WASP-y women on their first trip to a waffle house (one sat in a booth, the other at the counter, so they could compare notes). All of this was inspired by an audience member who suggested they take the word “kitchen” and run with it. One sketch flowed seamlessly into the next, with neither performer missing a beat.
Following Kate and Casey was Jarg Barfman’s Psychedelic Wee-Wa, a one-man sketch show that ratcheted up the weird factor in a big way. Comedian Jake Goldman shared short stories and sketches about the Goo Goo Dolls and a disappointing son who just wants gills (“We’re tail men,” his father reminds him). The sketch I liked best described Jake’s favorite game show: Existential Despair, a program that plays “on a 24-hour loop on the Deep Web.”
If these are the standard bearers for what’s coming down the pike at Wage House, you should probably clear your Friday nights. Inspired weirdness, sustained absurdity and honest, thoughtful comedy, not to mention big laughs, have been hallmarks of Wage House productions so far and are a sign that the state of comedy in Rhode Island is strong.
“Improv to us has always been really accessible,” says Casey. “We’ve tried to create what we would want if we were going out for a show. What would get us excited and make us want to go back? Cheap, short and sweet.”
“And hopefully funny,” Kate adds.
Shows every Friday night
560 Mineral Spring Avenue, Pawtucket