Stevie Ray, executive director of the Stevie Ray’s Comedy Troupe, was a student at John Marshall High School when he took a test that was supposed to help him decide on a career.
When the results came back, he was told he would make a great female education instructor.
“I thought, OK, well, I’m not flying to Denmark for an operation,” Ray said.
Instead, Ray, whose legal name is Steve Rentfrow, made the business of comedy and improv his chosen profession. His comedy troupe will put on two improv performances at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 28, at the Canadian Honker Events at Apache. The 2 p.m. show cost $30 and will include dessert, and the 7 p.m. show will cost $45 and include a decadent dessert bar and cash bar. Financial proceeds are for the Rochester Senior Center.
The show will serve as the official kickoff to WinterFest, Rochester’s annual winter celebration that takes place during the first two weeks of February.
Ray’s troupe’s comedy is similar to that of the TV show “Whose Line is it Anyway?” where audience members throw out suggestions to the performers. The subject might be “world’s worst…” and someone might yell out, “world’s worst bank teller.” And then each member of the five-member troupe will jump and do their version of the world’s worst bank teller. Or the performers might be asked to riff on the “world’s worst person to sit next to on airplane.”
“It’s hilarious,” Ray said. “We’re able to be much more interactive than what you see on TV, and that’s because it’s a live show.”
Ray said the shows are clean — “We don’t go down the raunchy road at all.” And while the comedy is meant for adults, it can be enjoyed by the whole family and people of all ages.
Ray graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead with a degree in the theory and performance of comedy that he specifically created for himself. The comedy cabaret that he founded is now in its 26th year and includes comedy shows, a touring company and comedy training. The cabaret is located in Chanhassen.
One feature of the improv troupe is that auditions are held every six months or so, meaning current members have to re-audition for their spot in the group. A member might have a part of the troupe for a long time, but if someone comes along who is a little bit better, they might lose the spot. It keeps one’s comedy chops sharp.
“It’s a very tightly run professional troupe, so the focus is on always doing the best show for the audience,” Ray said.
What: Stevie Ray’s Comedy Troupe performs as part of the official kickoff to Winterfest.
When: They will be two performances on Thursday, Jan. 28. One is at 2 p.m. and the other at 7 p.m. The 2 p.m. show costs $30 and includes dessert and the 7 p.m. show costs $45 and includes a decadent dessert bar and cash bar.
Where: Canadian Honker Events at Apache, 1517 16 St. S.W., Rochester, Mn.
Tickets can be obtained by calling the Rochester Senior Center at (507) 287-1404 or going to senior center, 121 N. Broadway Ave., Rochester, Mn.