Jester’Z Improv Comedy is serious about good, clean fun! And FUN is evident from the colorful, well-lit storefront to the checkerboard lobby and the relaxed atmosphere of the performance area. “Improve the quality of life,” says Jester’Z owner/producer Jef Rawls. “That is our motto.” This spring marks the 15th anniversary of the family-friendly improv company that Brother Rawls and his wife and co-producer, Shurlin, created with that principle in mind.
The weekend shows are built around “G-rated” comedy improv skits performed by skilled actors and comedians. The current cast of fifteen talented performers includes 12 men and 3 women from a wide range of backgrounds, and occasional special guest performers such as Whippy Cake, Girls With Glasses, cast members from BYUtv’s Studio C and most recently, a benefit performance by Hollywood actor Sean Astin.
Improvisation or “improv” is a popular form of theatrical comedy that requires actors to be quick-thinking, articulate and responsive not only to other actors but also to suggestions from the audience. Skits are developed around a framework idea with details such as a character-type, location and props all chosen by the audience. The result is a unique and often hilarious performance “improvised” by the comedy troupe on the spot.
Brother Rawls was drawn to improv comedy about 20 years ago when he attended a performance by a local troupe in Scottsdale. He returned to take classes and workshops and later became a performer and instructor himself. Rawls met and married Shurlin and eventually left his banking job to pursue the idea of his own comedy club full-time, focusing on clean, clever and family-friendly fun. The result was Jester’Z.
Originally based in Scottsdale, the club recently moved to the Mesa Riverview district near Dobson Road and the 202. The new venue provides easy access, greater visibility, and three times the space of the previous location. With a seating capacity of nearly 275 guests, Jester’Z has become a popular destination for families, birthday parties, dates, bridal parties and out-of-town guests.
In addition to the weekend shows, Jester’Z offers a comprehensive range of classes for adults and youth ages 8-17, corporate training to enhance life skills such as teamwork and effective communication, and exciting new projects like Jester’Z Creative Services, an improv sit-com that features local businesses.
Need to host a unique private event? Large groups such as churches, corporations and community organizations can enjoy tailor-made private events and even “atmosphere actors” from Jester’Z team. Companies such as Honeywell, Intel, PepsiCo, and Bank of America are among Jester’Z corporate clients.
Like any good jester, Brother Rawls is juggling a lot. He and his wife are the busy parents of 6 children, he currently serves in the Bishopric of the McDowell Ward, Citrus Heights Stake, and also helps direct the Mesa Temple Easter Pageant. For the Rawls, improving the quality of life in Arizona is a lot of work…and a lot of FUN!
Jester’Z Improv Comedy is located at Mesa Riverview shopping center, 1061 N. Dobson Rd. Suite #114 in Mesa. Comedy improv shows are presented weekly on Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm. The shows run 90 minutes. General Admission is $13 (plus tax.) To purchase tickets and/or learn more about classes, special events and training programs, go to www.jesterzimprov.com or call (480) 962-9262.