Shaking a building with laughter is difficult, but the Peoples Improv Theater, better known as the PIT, prove that a local theater dedicated to teaching and performing comedy is vital to the Chapel Hill scene.
The theater – which is located near the edge of Carrboro and Chapel Hill – serves the community with regular classes and performances, in addition to frequent appearances by industry professionals. Original comedy is produced daily at the PIT through forms of improv and stand-up.
To welcome the community into the theater on a weekly basis, the PIT offers a Trifecta Improv show, which is a night for the best improv groups from around the state to showcase their funniest original work.
On Saturday, the theater will welcome the improv groups Heartful, Guano Loco and Now Are The Foxes, from Chapel Hill, Raleigh and Charlotte, respectively.
Will Purpura, a comedian who helps run the space, organizes which groups get to perform in the weekly Trifecta Improv shows.
“It’s open to teams all over,” Purpura said. “Sometimes people reach out to us – they email us, they fill out one of our show submissions or they email me directly. Or it’s teams that I know and I reach out to them to see if they want to do it.”
The group Now Are The Foxes is traveling with six of its members to perform Saturday. Cale Evans, a Now Are The Foxes member, said this event is important for building relationships with audiences and other comedians in the Triangle.
“Improv is different than most (comedy), because you can only prepare so much. It’s like watching somebody walk on a tightrope," he said. "They know this is difficult, and they want you to succeed. They can empathize and put themselves in that same situation like, ‘This person was just told a scenario in front of a bunch of people, and now they’ve got to make up stuff.’”
When Purpura invited Now Are The Foxes to Trifecta Improv, Evans said the group almost immediately agreed to come perform. He noted that while audiences at improv shows are typically very generous with their laughter, local audiences react differently than those in Charlotte, where Now Are The Foxes is based.
“Part of our mission is to connect with some of the other theaters in North Carolina,” Evans said. “I think audiences in the Triangle are maybe more sophisticated. They’ve had some great improv for awhile, so they know kind of what to expect.”
Though the regular season at the PIT does not officially begin until the fall, it has already built a positive reputation in the comedy community. Jeremy Alder, a regular stand-up performer at the PIT, said Trifecta Improv is a great time because of the talented comedians who come through every week.
“Everyone I’ve met or worked with has been fantastic,” he said. “It feels like they have not spared any expense on making this a top-quality venue for comedy. In terms of the space itself, it could stand alongside any popular venue in New York City or anywhere else.”
Saturday’s show is set to start at 8 p.m. The $10 tickets are available online from the PIT’s website or at the door prior to the performance.Alder said that everyone who walks through the doors should be ready to laugh at some top-notch improv.
“It’s a super welcoming and encouraging place if you’re wanting to try stand-up or improv or see a show,” he said. “Come out to a show at the PIT, it’s a great place.”