The appeal of improv is a pretty simple one for actor, playwright and Rapid Fire Theatre artistic director Chris Craddock.

“It’s scary, there’s a lot of potential for failure; I’d say it’s basically the skydiving of theatre performance,” explains Craddock in his typically effusive manner. “You need to have a bit of an adrenaline addiction. Actually, I would argue it’s somewhat more addictive than cocaine. I’ve seen people try to quit improv, and they can never actually do it.”

Craddock and his company will be cutting another rail of improv starting this weekend, when Rapid Fire returns with its weekly shows, the game-oriented Theatresports and the long-form Chimprov, for another season. They shan’t be snorting alone this year, however: for the first time in their history, RFT will be bringing in guest improvisers from around Canada, both to train its own stable of already talented actors, and to show Edmonton audiences what some of the world’s best can do.

“Canada in general is really well-respected, and a leader in the form, and blah blah blah,” Craddock says. “Basically, there are a lot of really awesome people around the country who have trouble getting to Edmonton, and we’re hoping to fix that.”

Their first guests will be Winnipeg improv legends Crumbs (individually known as Steve Sim and Lee White), a duo of long-form improvisers who have had ties to RFT since the late ’90s. Though they previously made it out to Improvaganza and the Fringe, touring in Europe has kept them away from Edmonton for years, a near-tragedy, according to Craddock.

“They have a blend of sincerity and comedy that’s really unique,” he says. “They’re never wacky or histrionic, they just have formed, complex characters, that make you laugh, but pluck your heartstrings a little, too.”

“We’re a little lo-fi, a little more character-based than a lot of improv,” explains Sim over the phone from Winnipeg. “We’re not afraid to get serious sometimes, and avoid the easy joke. It’s a bit different, but usually the audience doesn’t even realize you’ve gotten serious, they just kind of get sucked in and follow us along as well tell them a made-up story.” V

Fri, Sep 21, Sat Sep 22 (11 pm)
TheatreSports & Chimprov
Featuring Rapid Fire Theatre, Crumbs
Varscona Theatre (10329-83 ave); $10