Four Day Weekend was never meant to last. The guys – all but Oliver are founding members – started in early 1997, when they were scheduled for a six-week run at Casa Manana Theater in Fort Worth. The show garnered a lot of praise and proved popular, so they stuck with it, outgrowing Casa Manana and moving into Caravan of Dreams Theater, which is nearly twice the size. They eventually bought that theater, renamed it the Four Day Weekend Theater, and reopened it, complete with swanky cocktail lounge, in April.
Ask to describe their show, member Oliver Tull says: “I would say it is a cross between Saturday Night Live and Whose Line is it Anyway? It is audience participation of the highest order, and not filthy like a lot of other companies out there.”
The audience is invited to write words on post-its and phrases on index cards before the show, which are later incorporated into their riffs. The show isn’t for the faint of heart: any member of audience could end up with their face on a giant drop-down screen at the front of the stage.
“Our show utilizes a more character-driven and scene-based improv style that Dave Wilk and I learned at Second City [an improvisational school in Chicago], combined with a lot of production value… lighting, green screen, video,” says Frank Ford.
More than six years after it began, the show continues to receive acclaim. Improvisational comedy website improvnews.com says the guys present “a tight, professional, creative show that makes full use of their space,” and local media consistently sing their praises.
It’s this kind of recognition that might propel these four neighborhood residents to stardom. The group took a first step toward national recognition this year when HDNet, an all-high-definition cable TV network and the latest brainchild of Mark Cuban, filmed their show for the pilot episode of “Who’s Next?”
“The concept of the show is to develop a ‘catch a rising star’ type showcase fro HDNet,” says the network’s public relations director Sherry Yeaman. “Four Day Weekend was featured in the initial episode based on the response they have generated in the media.”
Ford says they’ve also been “approached by a national television network to propose show ideas that member of FDW would write and star in.”
But until super-stardom hits, the guys are happy with what they’ve got. FDW is a full-time gig for all of them and they also maintain side projects. Ford’s most recent gig is as the “Whataburger Fanatic” in the company’s radio and TV spots, and he’s also writing a sketch comedy review that will premiere in the fall. David Ahearn will direct a feature-length film in 2004 that he also wrote.
FDW has also branched out quite a bit in its six years. The group performs at corporate engagements, runs a serious of improv workshops and, in 2003, founded its own film production company, Calliphygian Films. Some of their work is anything but comedy: Tull’s film, “Today and Tomorrow,” explores the effects of prejudice and hatred.
Ford, who quit his Texas Instruments job in 2001 because, he says, he “felt like a living Dilbert cartoon sometimes,” speaks for all the guys when he adds: “I’m now living out my dream of working full time as an actor/comedian/writer.”
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