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'Dream come true' workshop by Kids in the Hall alum to kick off improv shop's grand opening

The Making-Box is an experiment gone horribly right, says co-founder Jay Reid
Kevin MacDonald Headshot Submitted
Kevin MacDonald of Kids in the Hall seen in this handout photo

A member of Canadian sketch comedy royalty will be taking part in the grand opening of the new permanent home for the Royal City’s own improvisational comedy storefront.

Kids in the Hall alumnus Kevin MacDonald will help kick off a month-long grand opening for the The Making-Box’s new Cork Street location.

Jay Reid, The Making-Box co-founder, said MacDonald is just one of many high-profile Canadian comics who have reached out to the comedy theatre and improv training centre.

“The stars aligned to have him be available at a time that also lined up with our grand opening on Cork Street, so I guess the word has gotten out there that The Making-Box is a hub for great comedy,” said Reid.

The Making-Box previously called 40 Baker Street it’s home, but moved out in April in preparation for the new 43 Cork Street location.

Reid says The Making-Box is an experiment that went horribly right.

The Baker Street location was originally set up as a one-month pop up shop, but that location ended up serving the improv shop for much longer.

“It led to two years of improv classes and live shows there. That gave us a clear message we needed a permanent home in Guelph,” said Reid.

The new Cork Street location is set to begin grand opening celebrations Sept. 1.

“It’s definitely going to be a cozy theatre and it’s going to double as an improv classroom. For the evenings we have improv classes that will happen every day there, as well as live comedy every Friday night starting in September,” said Reid.

The shows will feature The Making-Box Brigade, a group Reid calls ’14 of Guelph’s most intelligent and clever human beings’, including The Making-Box co-founder Hayley Kellett, who was nominated in 2015 for a Canadian Comedy Award: Best Female Improviser.

The ensemble is rounded out by a cross-section of the Guelph community at large.

“We also have individuals that are water resource engineers or environmental scientists, toxicology students, people that are studying veterinary science. We also have people who work in the mental health field in Guelph,” said Reid.

This weekend, the Brigade travels to the United States to perform in the Detroit Improv Festival.

On Sept. 1, The Making-Box’s first Friday night show in their new venue, with MacDonald as a headliner, is already sold out, said Reid.

He will perform Half a Play accompanied by the Brigade, in which the first half of the show is scripted, while the second half is completely improvised.

MacDonald is best known as one-fifth of the Kids in the Hall sketch comedy series, which ran from 1989 to 1995 on CBC and the film Brain Candy, released in 1996. The comedian has also landed guest roles on TV shows like That 70s Show, Seinfeld and Arrested Development.

On Sept. 2, MacDonald will lead a workshop at The Making-Box focused on sketch comedy creation, which the participants will perform during a showcase that night.

Reid said it will be a rare opportunity to participate in a workshop led by a cast member of the iconic Canadian sketch show.

“I think it’s a dream come true for many people that grew up watching Kids in the Hall,” said Reid.

At press time, there were still spaces left for the workshop.

Audience tickets are available for the showcase, which will also feature MacDonald and the Brigade doing improv comedy, what is promised to be a one-of-a-kind show.

Reid, now 28, was introduced to improv at the age of 16 during a performance by the Canadian Improv Games, a non-profit that brings improvisational comedy to high schools across Canada..

"It was there I discovered it made people more open, happy and connected and from there it’s a world I never wanted to leave because I always wanted to give more and more people that experience,” he said.