One of the most exciting aspects of Fish Sticks has been our continued growth — with one of our biggest events being the coming together of the original Fish Sticks Comedy based in Milwaukee with the long-standing, Dallas-based HIMprov in 2016. This type of thing just doesn’t happen as most improv groups stagnate and fade away — but the combination of two growing, active, energetic troupes of professional improvisers enables us to better further our shared vision for bringing people together through improvisational comedy. It’s one team focused on serving our show hosts and audiences well — and the results have already been amazing.
Since you clicked here you just might be interested, so we’ll share a bit of history — starting with how we came to be a national team. In 2015, the Sticks in Milwaukee had the idea to put on a conference to focus on furthering the craft of improv and connect with those who have an “other-centered” purpose behind what they do. In other words, we weren’t looking for comedians who are in it for the attention or for just themselves. We were looking for comedians who were funny and wanted to be funnier and more effective because that would have a benefit on those participating in their events.
Two members from HIMprov in Dallas came to that conference. And even in the lead up, it was becoming clear that there was a connection between their approach and experience and the approach and experience of the Milwaukee-based, Fish Sticks. Fast forward a few months, and the idea of joining up to become one team came up and just made sense. So, on May 20, 2016, at the second annual conference sponsored by Fish Sticks — this time in Dallas — 15 of the Sticks took to the stage to celebrate this new venture.
So what’s the back story of the teams before that date? You can see more of that below, but what is consistent between the two is a background in the club comedy scene — with many performing for years at top comedy clubs in Milwaukee, Dallas and elsewhere, a commitment to excellence, and a focus on serving others.
Fish Sticks Comedy began in Milwaukee, where three of the regular pro players at the original ComedySportz location put their heads together to do more than entertain with their improv comedy. So one cold November morning in 2006, Whit, John and Dave met for breakfast and decided to put something together. We do not, unfortunately, remember what we ordered.
Over the next few months, the three Sticks decided to focus their energies on doing short-form improv shows for churches, schools, charities for outreach, fellowship and fundraising. Their commitment to doing squeaky-clean improv has been a constant, too — and this “never-cross-the-line,” all age appropriate, high energy, improvisational approach has led them to broaden their base to corporate workshops, events, clubs, and much more.
The Sticks’ first show was on February 10, 2007, and, with the help of media coverage, the first show sold out and a second one added that night nearly did, too. We’ve come a long way since that first show. But even with the hundreds of shows we’ve done since, the energy and support right at the beginning is something that we cherish to this day.
In July, 2007, Nancy joined Fish Sticks as the first chick Stick (to use her words). That definitely classed the thing up. Andy joined in 2008, as did Joe and Jodi a bit later that year. In 2015, Rebecca was added to the mix, getting the Milwaukee troupe up to eight members. Each Stick brings a little something different to the table, and the blend has been pretty cool to see develop.
Starting out from their home territory from their base in Milwaukee, south to Chicagoland, west to Madison, and north to Green Bay and the Fox Valley, the Sticks have traveled coast-to-coast performing before thousands and thousands in a wide variety of venues.
The Dallas Fish Sticks trace their roots even further back to 2001, when Brad and Shawn who for the prior 10 years were performing at places like ComedySportz Dallas and in schools with the group, Kidprov, began doing monthly shows at a church in the area – a run that continues to this day! So along with Jay and Craig and three others, including some guy named Tim Hawkins who now does stand up comedy, HIMprov was born.
In the 15 years that followed that start, the group grew — in part due to the regular 6-week long improv workshops focused on performance aspects and applications to life generally. In fact, Don, Jason, and Steve all graduated from those workshops to the stage with HIMprov and now with Fish Sticks. HIMprov always stuck to the “clean enough for a church” standard while striving for excellence in improv regardless of setting.
With literally unlimited material to draw from, Fish Sticks has produced five DVDs. We’ve continued to expand our repertoire of improv games, including creating some ourselves. We’ve performed before thousands in large theaters and conference centers as well as in more intimate venues, and have done so from East to West, North to South. We love what we do, care about each other, and can’t wait to have the chance to share time with you at an upcoming show or workshop!
Thanks for showing the interest in how we got into this thing, where we’ve been and where we’re headed. We’re excited and would love for you to contact us to learn more about how we might partner together to do great things.