Over the course of the past year, we've seen 50 West slowly turn itself into a chill location that's brought in intimate performances and given comedy shows a new home in the downtown area. One of the latest additions in the comedy field to make their residence there is Crowdsourced Comedy, an improv group who don't just ask for single words or phrases; they ask you for a story, or mounds of information, and improv
their way around the major groundwork laid before them. Today we chat with the two co-founders about building the troupe and the work that goes into their shows. (All pictures courtesy of Crowdsourced Comedy.
Andrew Sproge & Gabe Ericson
Gavin: Hey Andrew and Gabe! First thing, tell us a little bit about yourselves?
My name is Gabe and I’m from Denver, Colorado. My wife and I have been married for a little over a year and we have a dog named Teddy. I’ve been focusing on comedy for about nine years
My name is Andrew Sproge and I am getting married this October to my wonderful fiancee Jessica who is also an improviser. I moved here from Kansas City about six years ago and have been working in comedy since.
Gavin: When did each of you get into performing arts and comedy?
My performing background started at an early age with recitals and church events. I then got into comedy when I was 14 by starting to watch 30-minute specials on Comedy Central, and later performed standup
at open mics in Denver when I was 17.
As I kid, I was always the class clown, and would often get in trouble for talking so loudly whispering jokes to friends. I eventually started taking improv classes in Provo with the famed Tom Quinn, and I started performing in shows from there.
Gavin: How was it for you both in and out of school taking part in theater and other outlets?
I didn’t participate in the theater or performing outlets within the school, but I was singing in church choirs and performing in talent shows, concerts, and with other various groups.
I was never actually much of a performer in school, spending most of my time on Football and Rugby. However, my favorite thing was joking with my classmates and friends, and I eventually found a taste for more formed comedy.
Gavin: When did the two of you first meet each other and become friends?
We met about three years ago, performed on stage with each other a lot and just slowly started our friendship that way. It’s nice to own a business with your friend, they consistently push you to be your best because you both want the best for each other and their family.
Gabe and I have actually never met, and only deal with each other through a surrogate.
Gavin: Had you worked in or created any improv group together prior to this, or were you more working on your own things that didn’t intersect?
We had worked together in a few troupes previous to the inception of Crowdsourced.
We performed with The Thrillionaires, Yellow #2 and OCD Comedy before the we created Crowdsourced Comedy. However, I had been working with some other comedians producing video content and writing.
Gavin: How did the idea for doing Crowdsourced Comedy come about?
We loved performing. We had been doing short-form comedy for a long time, but we are both students of comedy and wanted to create a brand of comedy that was influenced by what we like and how we like to perform. It’s a hybrid of both of our styles/fortes, and we wanted to make a life out of making people laugh.
We found while performing different kinds of improv that our favorite parts were interacting with the audience and getting great stories or personal experiences from them. We were then able to form that into a new age using social media as well as great audience interaction, which is why our slogan is “Inspired by you!”
Gavin: What is it about your show that separates it from other improv shows in Utah?
As our name suggests, everything we do is based on our audience. While other companies might get a one-word suggestion or use topics that are hot or popular, we ask for stories and really get to know our crowd.
Simply put, or show is more flexible and personal than any other comedy show in Utah. We base everything on the audience, whether it’s a private event that gives us information they want us to work in for their ends, or if it’s going to the audience with questions and suggestions we make it ALL ABOUT YOU.
Gavin: What was the process like in finding talent to work with, and who did you pick up at the start?
When we started Crowdsourced, a lot of our friends we had worked with previously got really excited to join us, which has been amazing. We are very lucky to have the people we do and to continue to find more people with great talent.
We were fortunate enough to have worked with so many talented improvisers in the past such as Trevor Kelley, Brady Amundson, Jake Jorgensen, Jared Evans, Joseph Scoma, Trent Krummenacher, and my brother Jeff Sproge. From there we met Seattle native Colin Smith through social media and have been building from there!
Gavin: What kind of practice and work do you do to prepare for shows and get people involved with the group up-to-speed to participate?
We have two official practice times per week and multiple sessions outside of that. We work with everyone on those two official practice days, but will then break down into smaller groups or have one-on-one workshops to help newer performers be ready for our shows.
Gavin: What was it like starting the group out and finding an audience in a city with several other groups already performing?
We found the city extremely receptive to our new style of Inspired improv comedy, especially with the younger adult crowds that come to socialize after work or to break the ice when meeting new people. We’ve had to build our audience the old-fashioned way, however, by performing great shows and exploiting great word of mouth from those that love our show. We were approached by and featured on Good Things Utah
, Radio From Hell
, the Channel 2 and Fox 13 morning shows, because of great people talking about our show.
Gavin: How did you end up at 50 West, and how has it been performing there?
It has been great working with 50 West. We were lucky enough to get connected through a fan who had come to the first Crowdsourced show and knew us from other performance troupes as well. Their venue is the newest and most coveted comedy club in all of Utah.
Gavin: You do a lot of events for hire. What made you branch out into that area, and how can people hire you for gigs?
We have both been entertaining professional private events and corporate shows for years with places like Vivint, Nu Skin, Doterra, and Adobe. We discovered that those intimate settings and personal relationships are perfect fuel for our comedy. We are great at breaking the ice with large groups of people as well as getting people outside their normal pace allowing them to cut loose and have fun. We can incorporate business lingo and familiar concepts in order to make a unique and specific experience. We can perform any size show, any budget, any time and we encourage people to find us at our website
as well as message us at our social media for a unique show and built to fit your needs. Find us on Facebook
Gavin: Do you have any plans down the road to expand the group or change how you do shows?
As we grow we would love to be a convent for comedy in Salt Lake. Many of our performers have such unique talents that expand beyond just our improv show. We will be performing sketch and alternative comedy shows, as well as a new YouTube channel where we'll be releasing a video soon, and will be a big part of our growing expansion.
Gavin: What can we expect from both of you and Crowdsourced Comedy over the rest of the year?
It has been astounding how quickly we are growing. Over the next year, I imagine weekly shows in both Provo and Salt Lake as well as ongoing classes (starting after Oct. 24) for those looking to learn improv. We really just want to continue to help grow the comedy scene here in Utah by performing and producing all kinds of great standard and alternative comedy.