Entertaining the crowd of teenagers at IGNITE in October, will be the Panic Squad, a group born out of an idea one day in college over 20 years ago. The now-eight-person improvisation comedy troupe started at Trinity Western University in Langley in the Canadian province of British Columbia in the 1990s.
“Improv fits us. We’ve never performed the same scene more than once,” said founding member Andrew Bright who like the others in his group encourages spontaneous participation from the audience.
Turns out the group’s name was also an improvised decision. The eight original founders flipped through magazines, each randomly pointing to two words with the understanding that two words would be picked from the hat. So, the group’s first name was Friday Night Panic Squad since they were only playing on Friday nights at the time. But like the once-Silver Beatles, they too shortened their name, making it the Panic Squad when they broadened their schedule to other nights.
Panic Squad’s first public gig was in the spring of 1996 when a local coffee shop agreed to pay them two dollars for each attendee. A whopping total of 12 people showed up. Ten of them were family members.
“That was a turning point for us,” said Bright. “We made a decision that because God has given us this talent to use, that we would never let the size of the audience dictate the quality of the show.”
Four months later the group packed the coffee house with more than 500 people.
Since then, the group who offers a “Show Me the Funny Guarantee,” has commanded an audience of 35,000. Their backgrounds range from an actor and teacher to an author and pest control technician.
“It’s all because we said yes that day,” said Bright who lives in Lynden, WA, and grew up acting out Bible stories for his siblings as he looked for ways to channel his sharp wit and high energy.
“I was a funny, wiggly kid,” said Bright. “I never dreamed it would be my career. God has definitely guided me.”
Going full time in 2001, the group added performers from well-known enterprises like The Second City, historically the first ongoing improvisational theater troupe continually based in Chicago, and The Groundlings in Los Angeles.
The Panic Squad has performed across the United States and Canada for hundreds of churches, businesses, national conferences and top Fortune 500 corporations. They have appeared on CBC, CTV, 100 Huntley Street, The Miracle Channel, JCTV, CBS and more.
But their core values are still intact. “Excellence and honoring God have always been our foundation, and that will never change.”
For more information, please visit www.panicsquad.com