By Will Hoverman
Sun Sailor Intern
The Star Tribune says Stevie Ray’s Comedy Troupe can “pull laughs out of thin air.” Now, local actors are teaming up to deliver knee-slapping comedy in a new show format. The famous comedy cabaret at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre has drawn comparisons to “Whose Line is it Anyway” — providing clean, fast-paced humor for years.
The new format is still mostly improvisation, however, they are now incorporating songs to highlight the musical ability of much of the cast. Furthermore, they integrate a handful of written sketches to provide more variety.
One of the troupe’s actors, Rex Isom Jr. of Maple Grove, is a part of this dynamite cast. Rex is a father of two, recently engaged and getting married at the Chanhassen this fall. He has compiled a lengthy entertainment resume, with experience on stage, in improvisation comedy, and commercials — one that aired during the Superbowl in 2015.
His story is pretty unique. After being a tank mechanic in the Army for six years, he used the benefits from the GI Bill to go to college to become a teacher. However, after he landed his first leading role in a play, he fell in love with acting.
“After performing in that musical and doing a few other shows,” Isom Jr. said. “I realized that acting was my calling. I’ve been performing professionally in the Twin Cities as a career since 1995.”
Isom Jr. describes why he loves coming into work every day.
“I love the camaraderie and trust I have with my fellow troupe members,” he said. “They are a great group of people to perform with and work with! I also really appreciate the style of improv we do. Nothing crass or too blue, it’s a very fun, family-oriented show that’s great, clean comedy for anyone and everyone.”
Heather Gerard, a comedian from St. Michael, joins Isom Jr. and the rest of the troupe to provide their notoriously entertaining show. When she’s not busy being a mom or an employee for the City of Robbinsdale, she does stand-up and improvisation comedy. Trained in New York City, She has also appeared in commercials and found work as an actress at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre and much more.
Gerard explains that, unlike Isom Jr., performing has always been her passion. “At the ripe age of 6 months,” she says with a chuckle, “I got my first laugh and the rest was history. I was born a performer”
Gerard describes the experience of coming to see a Comedy routine at Stevie Ray’s.
“Skip the gym and work your abs at Stevie Rays,” Gerard jokes. “You will be close to a six pack when you leave. And your stomach won’t look half bad either. But seriously, the current Stevie Ray’s troupe is the most talented group I’ve worked with yet. They are plain and simple some of the best people I know.”
Despite the obviously comedic focus of the routine, Gerard explains the real relationships she has developed with her fellow troupe members.
“Improv’s number one rule is trust… trust in yourself…trust in your partner. It’s truly the first time that I can honestly say that, through my training and performance with Stevie Ray’s, I’ve finally learned to trust myself.”
Stevie Ray’s performs every Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. Find out more at stevierays.org.
Contact Will Hoverman at [email protected]