Social media steals the show in Vancouver


Janet Davidson (centre, holding phone) launched #NoFilter to merge social media and improv. (Photo courtesy of Vancouver TheatreSports League)

Story by Adrian Brijbassi
Vacay.ca Managing Editor

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA — Whether it’s an ill-advised tweet by a world leader or a ferociously funny YouTube video full of feline antics, social media has become a significant source of comedic fodder. So, it seemed fitting to Janet Davidson to see how one off-the-cuff medium would meld with another, more traditional form. The result is #NoFilter, a hilarious theatrical show where four improv actors from the Vancouver TheatreSports League cast use social media for inspiration in their skits. As with many improv shows, the segments featuring audience participation are among the funniest moments in #NoFilter.  

“Social media is instantaneous and it is immediately received, just like improv, and there’s a lot of spontaneity with it,” says Davidson, who has studied at the Second City Conservatory in Toronto and also teaches there. “A successful show is one part social media engagement of tweeting at us and participating, and it’s important that the performers have a great time too.”

Unlike most entertainment performances in the modern age, #NoFilter encourages use of mobile phones for live tweeting during the show (there are no photos or videos allowed, so that limits the usage on other social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook). Audience members can direct the cast to come up with a skit based on scenarios suggested via Twitter.


For their improv skits, the cast of #NoFilter receive suggestions from the audience via Twitter. (Photo courtesy of Vancouver TheatreSports League)

#NoFilter also asks an audience member to access his or her Instagram channel and a producer selects a series of images that are then presented to both the audience and the cast. The actors perform a skit based on the Instagram shots. Imagine what comedians might say about the images you post and you will quickly understand the entertainment value of #NoFilter — even if it’s at your own expense.

“Most of the time these days audiences are told to put their phones away. But mobile phones and social media are more and more part of our world. So the idea came about with the question, ‘What if we merged the two worlds together and allow them to live tweet through the shows?’” Davidson explains.

#NoFilter has been playing at The Improv Centre on Granville Island in Vancouver since March 2 and is scheduled to run until June 22. Davidson says the west-coast city is a good fit for the show because of the style of improv its players perform.

“One thing with the Vancouver scene is it is more improv game-oriented and in Toronto you see more long-form improv. In Vancouver, it’s very fast and funny. In Toronto, it’s a little bit more driven to grounded improv, which is more geared for longer performances where one suggestion could lead to a performance that goes over 20 minutes,” she notes.

Complete Your Stay on Granville Island

Many first-time visitors to Granville Island don’t realize their entire stay can be based on the tiny peninsula that is one of Vancouver’s tourist gems. The Granville Island Hotel is a cute boutique hotel on the eastern end of the neighbourhood. It features a brewpub and restaurant, and designated parking for hotel guests. Room rates run about $300 per night before the summer rush and increase during the busy tourist season.  

Quality restaurants include Edible Canada, which showcases products from around the country, and Sandbar, a seafood restaurant. For nightlife, Backstage Lounge features good live music.  

Although the Granville Island Public Market is the focal point of any shopping finds, thanks to its artisans and food purveyors who take up residence with their stalls throughout the year, the area is full of boutique stores. The Net Loft building across from the market has several retailers, including clothing stores, kitchen goods, chocolate shops and more. 


#NoFilter Tickets: Tickets can be purchased for as little as $7.50 each. The final show is scheduled for June 22, 2017.
Location: The Improv Centre, 1502 Duranleau St, Vancouver, BC (see map below)
Website: www.vtsl.com

Adrian is the editor of Vacay.ca and VacayNetwork.com. He also edited "Inspired Cooking", a nutrition-focused cookbook featuring 20 of Canada's leading chefs and in support of the cancer-fighting charity, InspireHealth. "Inspired Cooking" was created in honour of Adrian's late wife and Vacay.ca co-founder, Julia Pelish, who passed away of brain cancer in 2016. Adrian has won numerous awards for his travel writing, travel photography, and fiction, and has visited more than 55 countries. He is a former editor at the Toronto Star and New York Newsday, and was the social media and advocacy manager for Destination Canada. His articles have frequently appeared in the Huffington Post, Globe & Mail, and other major publications. He has appeared on national and local broadcasts, talking about travel, sports, creative writing and journalism. In 2019, he launched Trippzy, a travel-trivia app developed to educate consumers about destinations around the world.

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