The Pushers: Alba Woolard of the comedy group The Pushers says their humor can be defined in one word: “dip-shitty.” Combining sketch and improv, the group spawns characters for any scenario — the shows held at their home-base in Norfolk, Va. entertain audiences with everything from improvised ghost stories to impromptu interviews with audience members. “I used to purposely get in trouble to make my brothers laugh if we were ever bored,” says Woolard.
The Pushers were born after Brad McMurran, Sean Devereux, and Ed Carden graduated college. Realizing the lack of a local comedy scene in Norfolk, these three entertainers established their own group.
Originally, there were 14 members of the group, but over time some have moved on to other projects, others continue to perform on occasion, and still some have stayed with the group through the decade. Eventually, The Pushers created a venue dubbed the The Push Comedy Theatre located in the heart of Norfolk’s Art District.
Woolard, joined by three other members of the comedy group — Brad McMurran, Sean Devereux, and Adam Paine — are no strangers to the Charleston Comedy Fest. “This will be the group’s 10th time at the festival. It’s become kind of like summer camp for me. Each year is a little different, but we get to see old friends, make new friends, and party like we’re in college again. We love it every year.”
Bonecracker: The crew that makes up Bonecracker does not set out to break any bones, but we wouldn’t be surprised if they had a few bruises. “It’s really fast and really playful,” says member Vinny Vivaldi, who adds that, like so many improv shows, the gang likes to make sure shows are never the same. They do that by keeping the energy high — try to keep up.
Vivaldi says the group all went through Chapel Hill, N.C.’s DSI theater, but despite that common ground, they all come from different walks of life. Vivaldi, for example, is a barista by day.
“We do something that’s good all the time,” says Vivaldi. He’s not trying to brag, he just wants to change people’s perception of improv. “People will say, ‘Oh improv sucks a lot,’ and I’m like, ‘Sorry?'” says Vivaldi. PSA: improv does not suck, especially when its being performed by the talented groups at the Charleston Comedy Festival. We wouldn’t lie to you.
“It can get really physical,” says Vivaldi. He recalls a show where the stage happened to have a window. “Within a minute someone had jumped through the window,” he says, adding that while no limbs were broken, there were a number of bruises the next day.
“We should try to break bones,” muses Vivaldi. “It could absolutely happen.”