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Meet Shanghai's Godfather Of Improv, Curt Mabry
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Meet Shanghai's Godfather Of Improv, Curt Mabry

Picture of Daniel Rechtschaffen and Carla Thomas
Curt Mabry came to China six years ago and, like so many before him, has never left. Since then, he has become a big name in the Shanghai improv comedy scene as founder and Executive Director of the city’s largest comedy organization: Zmack. We talked to him about the 2nd Annual Shanghai Improv Festival (hosted by Zmack and The People’s Republic of Comedy), as well as the comedy scene more generally.
Courtesy of Curt Mabry
Courtesy of Curt Mabry

CT: How would you describe the Shanghai Improv Festival in 30 words or less?

Curt: Improvisers across Asia gathering to drink, perform and study improv, drink, enjoy camaraderie, drink, meet legend Charna Halpern, drink, eat everything in sight, drink, KTV and drink. Have a drink.

CT: What’s the most unusual audience suggestion/request you’ve ever had/seen?

Curt: It’s not so much the suggestion as what we make of it. We get way too many genitalia/adult pleasure device suggestions. We’re full up on those, thanks.

CT: What makes the Shanghai Improv Festival unique from other festivals of its kind?

Curt: It’s in the greatest city in the world! Charna Halpern, the original teacher of our craft (with her partner Del Close) is here to help tweak us to Chicago standards of excellence- you’ll see something amazing Sunday night!

Zmack Improv | Courtesy of Curt Mabry
Zmack Improv | Courtesy of Curt Mabry

CT: What advice would you give someone trying to break into the comedy improv scene?

Curt: Don’t do other performance hobbies at the same time (stand up, theater, sketch comedy) in those first days- give your full passion to internalizing the ideals and foundations of improvisation.

CT: What’s your dream project?

Curt: A 90-minute two-act fully improvised musical play with a five-piece band.

CT: If you opened up a fortune cookie, what would it say?

Curt: Both sides would read SEE OTHER SIDE. I’d be busy for hours.

Zmack Improv | Courtesy of Curt Mabry
Zmack Improv | Courtesy of Curt Mabry

Quickfire questions

Apple or Android? Apple. Although it sucks marginally less than the rest.

Tsingtao or Asahi? Tsingtao. Brown bottle.

Sheng Jian Bao or Xiao Long Bao? Sheng Jian Bao. Fry it up, I’m from Mississippi.

Puxi or Pudong? Puxi OF COURSE.

Trump or Carson? Trump. I like trainwrecks.