Peter Comedy Trio promises improv laughs at The Merc
By Don Nelson
Toby Childs says he got his first taste of how appealing improvisation can be as a student playing in a jazz band led by Methow Valley musician Terry Hunt. Childs became hooked on the concept as it applies to humor, and has been making up funny stuff ever since.
Now he’s doing it for a living.
Local residents who remember Childs, a 2009 graduate of Liberty Bell High School, as a student, musician, athlete and wise-cracker will get their first opportunity to see him as a professional comedian on Sunday (Sept. 20), when he appears at The Merc Playhouse in Twisp as part of the Peter Comedy Trio.
The show starts at 4 p.m. Admission is $10. Advance tickets are available at Winthrop Mountain Sports.
The trio is in the first stages of an extensive tour, which will take them to cities throughout the west.
The tour culminates years of honing his comedy craft, Childs said. Childs, who is the son of Geof and Diane Childs of Winthrop, graduated from Western Washington University in 2013 with degrees in creative writing and theater. While there, he was part of an improvisational group called the Dead Parrots Society. He also performed at the Upfront Comedy Club in Bellingham.
Childs kept at comedy after graduating from Western. The Peter Comedy Trio was formed in 2014 and has performed in a variety of venues around the country.
“I’ve spent the last six years doing comedy,” Childs said in an interview this week. He met the other two members of the Peter Comedy Trio, Jake Foerg and Levi Friedman, while at Western.
Being funny as part of an ensemble is hard work. Improvisation actually requires a lot of rehearsal, Childs said, so that the players will polish their ability to work together to “push the limits of what we think good improv is.”
“Trust is the biggest part of improv,” Childs said.
Childs said all three trio members have quit their other jobs, left their housing arrangements behind and are essentially on the road to take their act as far as they can. “We’re just doing comedy the next three months,” he said.
Pointing toward a career
Childs said he is serious about pursuing a career in comedy. Being on an intensive tour makes that goal “seem more and more real,” he said. And it forces the trio to make a commitment to the process. “The only way to do it is to have no fallback,” he said. (If you want to donate to the trio’s gas fund, go to: www.petercomedytrio.com/tour.)
Childs said he had been thinking about the tour for a long time, and developed a detailed plan outlining all the necessary steps to put a tour together. That included a lot of research about improv venues around the country, he said. The trio has already done five shows, including appearances in Spokane and Seattle, and the reception so far has been good.
Childs said the Methow audience can expect a “wide open” show that will include short- and long-form improv, sketch, stand-up and freestyle rap, honest conversation, “general nuttery” and what Childs calls “a twisted romp of insane imagination” appropriate for a PG-13 crowd.
After the Sunday performance, Childs said he and his comedy companions will decamp to a local bar or restaurant where they can watch the Seattle Seahawks play the Green Bay Packers. “People can just hang out with us afterward,” he said.
Childs said he is looking forward to performing in front of a local crowd and perhaps offering some comedic relief after another difficult summer.
“We want to bring a good laugh to the Methow,” he said.