After a couple of years of altered, postponed and cancelled shows, the "Chips" with The Comic Strippers are ready to get their bow ties back on and hit the road.
And just like before the COVID-19 pandemic, the fictitious male stripping troupe will launch a Canadian tour from its home base at the Evergreen Cultural Centre in Coquitlam.
Four veteran comics who are regulars at The Improv Centre with Vancouver TheatreSports — Roman Danylo, Chris Casillan, Ken Lawson and Coquitlam resident Michael Teigen — will return to the City Centre stage on Aug. 26 and 27 to test out their material before they play 20 dates, starting on Sept. 9 in Vancouver.
The rotating cast of seven ends its run Nov. 25 at the Prince George Playhouse.
"It's been a strange, new world with all the details and all the rules that kept changing over the past two years," Danylo told the Tri-City News.
"We had some half-capacity shows. We've had to move shows and change them for distancing. It's been interesting to learn how to navigate all the protocols."
But bookings and the act itself weren’t the only challenges during the pandemic.
Danylo said travelling was also difficult as flights and ferries were nixed. Recently, The Comic Strippers just got to their Grand Prairie show in time after they were forced to fly to Edmonton and rent a vehicle to drive five hours to their venue.
They also lost their luggage during the journey; however, Danylo managed to stash some "emergency" bow ties and boxers for the cast in his carry-on bag.
The response to their summer events has been overwhelming, he said.
"They've just been packed. We had 700 people in Nanaimo and in Surrey. The audiences have been so amazing and, in a lot of ways, it's been touching to be a part of it.
"For some people, it’s their first time out in a long time so it’s emotional for everybody. There are lots of laughs, but there is melancholy at the same time."
For their fall tour, Danylo said The Comic Strippers will be back to their usual shenanigans with audience participation for games and dances, but nobody will be invited on stage as in the past.
"We’re keeping it as fun and interactive as possible but being safe, too, so we’ve had to reinvent some scenes that we do."
Still, Danylo is grateful to be performing again after two years of downtime.
"I've learned to re-appreciate just having something to do," he said.
"I've learned to take challenges and problems one at a time. And I've found out that life is not about getting somewhere and then it’s over. Instead, it's about the struggle, and the energy of handling the challenges as they occur is the reward in itself."
The Comic Strippers are set to perform Aug. 26 and 27 on the Evergreen Cultural Centre stage (1205 Pinetree Way).
The show is open for adults 19 years and older and tickets are $25 each as part of the venue's special discounted pricing for its 25th season.