Comedy with a side of charity

Published 9:53 am Friday, October 9, 2015

A “delectable” selection of laughs awaits visitors to the Dowagiac Middle School Performing Arts Center next week.

Local manufacturer Creative Foam is hosting a show by Elkhart-based improvisational comedy troupe Improv Deli at the middle school auditorium, with the curtains opening at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16. Admission costs $5, with tickets available for purchase in advance and at the door.

While a night of random humor would be more than enough to attract a crowd on its own, Creative Foam will also be donating the entirety of the till that evening back to Dowagiac Union Schools.

The comedy show is the latest charity event sponsored by the local foam fabricator. For the last several months, the staff has selected a handful of charities to donate to, including local food banks and national autism and diabetes awareness groups. Employees have organized special lunches to raise contributions from within the company for these organizations, said organizer Liz Scheetz.

While trying to come with ideas for which organization to donate to this month, an employee suggested they give back to the local school district, Scheetz said.

“One thing we are hearing is that teachers are spending a lot of money out of their own pockets for school supplies and things like that,” she said.

Another Creative Foam employee, Brad Miller, offered to help out with the fundraising, employing the services of the Improv Deli, which he is also a member of.

“The idea is to give back,” Miller said. “There’s a lot of different charities out there, but [the school district] affects Dowagiac directly.”

A six-person group comprised of actors from around the South Bend/Elkhart area, the comedy troupe takes its name from the “menu” of improv skit suggestions, or games, they hand out to audiences at the start of every show. The audience picks out whichever items on the menu, which includes suggestions like “alien school scallops” or “life and death chili,” they want the actors to act out on stage, Miller said.

“We don’t know which games we’ll play next, because that’s all decided by audiences,” he said. “You never know what’s coming next, or where the show is going to go.”

Miller and the other members of the improv group are no strangers to putting on shows for charity, as they quite frequently give back to organizations closer to home, Miller said. This will be their first performance in Dowagiac, though, he added.

While Creative Foam doesn’t have an exact goal for the amount of money the organization wishes to raise through the show, leaders are hoping its first external fundraising effort is a success, Scheetz said.

“We’re hoping for a good turnout,” she said. “The theater seats 850 people, so if we could get half of that it would be awesome.”

Tickets can be purchased in advance by contacting Creative Foam at 782-3483.