Hailing from Richmond, Virginia, Joe Hafkey originally found his hometown lacking when trying to satisfy his comedic desires.
Hafkey grew up with sketch shows like Mad TV & SNL, and was a fan of heavy hitters like George Carlin and Jerry Seinfeld. At first he wasn’t sure that comedy was going to be a focal point in his life. But when a job at the local (and really only) venue in Richmond eventually led to a guest spot on its established show, the hook was set. Not satisfied with the opportunities in the local scene, Hafkey did what many comics have done – created his own. Running 2 years, the show he created provided a more open and inclusive space for comedy in Richmond.
Our first comedian from the rural town of Santa Fe (Texas, not the other one), Roy Janik is a powerhouse on the Austin improv scene. Janik (“Yawn-ick,” not “Jan-ick.” Don’t tell his family he says it that way.) has an interesting comedic pedigree. While growing up, he was fed a diet of Mystery Science Theater 3000. He didn’t find his passion for performing all at once, but in a series of fortunate events later in high school and while doing college radio.
Janik holds a Masters Degree in Computer Science, which almost went another way. He hit a major turning point in his professional improv career with his initial performance in Maestro at The Hideout Theatre. This early success, plus a pressing need to guarantee the future of The Hideout Theatre, drove a rapid involvement, responsibility and ultimately co-ownership of the theater where he first got his start.
Not only did The Hideout troupe lead Janik into a new phase in life, it also turned out to be the setting where met his future wife, local multi-faceted improv/artist/actor Kaci Beeler(-Danger). Janik takes Valerie Lopez through the fairy tale of how it transpired, and how it ties into his very family-like ties to the improv group.
I am blown away by the breadth of Janik’s creativity and depth, as he and Valerie dig into some of his ongoing shows like Parallelogramophonograph (“PGraph”, for brevity’s sake, and timid spellers). Based loosely on concepts found in Haruki Murukami’s novels like The Wind Up Bird Chronicles, the format and flow of the performances are fascinating.
When not on stage, Janik, leads improv classes, some of which turn into gateways to festival appearances for the performers. This has taken the troupe across the world – from Canada to London and on to Spain, with more on the horizon.
I could go on for days about Janik’s work, but it’s in your best interests to get out and catch him and his troupe at The Hideout Theatre. In addition to PGraph, check out the many specials and ongoing shows like Squirrel Buddies, improv classes for kids, and more. Be sure to check out Roy Janik’s website as well.