When TED Talks Meet Improv in Camrose


Sometimes the best TED Talks are the ones you least expect, which is exactly where improv greats, Rapid Fire Theatre (RFT), come in.

With all the fun events happening in Camrose, this September is going to be awesome.

Coming to the Jeanne and Peter Lougheed Performing Arts Centre on Friday, Sept. 8, this is the first show in the Central Agencies Insurance Cabaret Series and will feature an evening of comedic improvisation that’ll get you laughing.

Get tickets here

It’s the kind of show that hits all the notes of a regular TED Talk, except with the humour that only Rapid Fire Theatre can bring. Dubbed TEDxRFT, Julian Faid says timing is of the essence for a great show.

“We are big believers in that the first 30 seconds of any show is really, really important. The audience is unsure what they’re about to get into. They just paid money. They sat down. They brought a friend who they want to impress,” explained Faid of their motivations for a good show.

How did the concept of an improv TED Talk come about?


Faid says the concept started out as an improv delivered by one person. The idea morphed into the TED Talk experience where Faid and his partner on stage, Joe Vanderhelm, created 15 slides for each other. They are then tasked with speaking to these slides.

“We don’t see those slides until the same time the audience sees them. In addition to that, we both get suggestions from the audience for the topic title,” he explained.

“Sometimes they mesh quite nicely. Other times they’re totally different. Either way, we have to bring together these slides of different scenes with the topics we just got from the audience.”

The format, besides being hilarious, has received acclaim over the years. During a recent International Fringe Festival, TEDxRFT was among the highest selling shows. “We sold well over 2,000 tickets over the course of seven shows.”

Part of the inspiration came from taking the seriousness out of a talk experience that is ubiquitous to our culture, added Faid. “There are scientific ones. There are motivational ones. There are artistic ones. There are inspirational ones.”

“Each time we present, we make sure our slides are different,” he explained.


The formula works. RFT has presented the show to improv festivals, Christmas parties, corporate events, and even in Oslo, Norway. “I created a presentation for two Norwegians to present,” said Faid.

What’s going to be great about the show in Camrose is that Vanderhelm is also a science and chemistry teacher in Edmonton with strong, public speaking skills.

“He’s a good fit for this type of thing,” explained Faid, who is himself entering his PhD studies in business.

In a way, two educated individuals, with a passion for comedy will be bringing us, as Faid joked, “educated people doing pseudoscientific pseudo-academic style talk. We’re improvisers, but we’re also fairly knowledgeable.”

“We are also going to do a normal sort of improv in the beginning of the show because it’s a two-act show,” said Faid.

Join us Friday, Sept. 8 at the Mayer Family Community Hall at the centre. This performance is part of the Central Agencies Insurance Cabaret Series.

Also in September brings Pavlo, a genius on the guitar who brings instrumental Mediterranean music to the Cargill Theatre.