In the kindest way possible, Nima Gholamipour is a comedy snake. He’s physical and active: jumping, diving, swerving, locking into position to fully commit to his characters. His body moves like it’s possessed by ghosts of vaudeville past. With these traits, it helps that Gholamipour is an improviser and a comedian around Vancouver. For someone so visually comedic, improv is the perfect creative conduit.
It wasn’t until grade 10 that Gholamipour became introduced to improv: already in the school breakdancing club at Burnaby Mountain Secondary, one of Gholamipour’s media arts videos caught the eye of the improv team and he was instantly headhunted for his comedy. They asked him to audition and he made the team — but it came at a cost.
“When I [auditioned] and I got in, that ran the same night as breakdance club,” explains Gholamipour, “I had to pick improv but that opened a lot of doors for me.”
In conjunction with his career in animation, Gholamipour has always made time for performance. His signature improv trio is Lorax Improv alongside Tim Carlson and Ben Gorodetsky. (Gholamipour knew Gorodetsky from Burnaby Mountain Secondary and Carlson from IMPROVCAMP, a week-long improv summer camp for highschool students.) The group grew out of this bond and, as Gholamipour says, “just happened.”
“We were just hanging out a bunch at the time,” says Gholamipour. “That’s usually what happens. You’re just hanging out and then you slowly just, you know, make a group. And then you get more committed and serious.”
Much like the group itself, even the name “Lorax Improv” doesn’t seem to have any definitive foundation.
“The name itself just stuck out to us,” says Gholamipour. “It’s hard-hitting and it’s got a flow at the beginning. And then it ends on a hard note. Yeah, we just kind of liked the name. It’s got nothing to do with Dr. Seuss at all. People find that weird. Like, ‘You’re not affiliated with Dr. Seuss?!’”
For the future of Lorax Improv, Gholamipour just wants to explore and expand, mainly with traveling.
“We’ve done the Canadian tour and we’d like to extend our legs into our neighbours in the US,” says Gholamipour. “We did Detroit recently and that was fun. I think we’d like to get money from a fringe tour that can pay for festivals in the States.”
Besides improv, Gholamipour loves character comedy. He frequently performs at Rapp Battlez, a comedic rap battle show, and the Hero Show, a solo sketch show. For Rapp Battlez, Gholamipour has performed as the IKEA Monkey, Andre the Giant, Salvador Dali, Mentos, Milk, Louis Armstrong, A kid stuck in a locker, and Babar; for the Hero Show, he has performed as porn agent Stiff Biff, Nima Gholamipour’s Transit Diaries, and Pizza Trish.
“I think Pizza Trish is my most popular character,” says Gholamipour. “It’s a woman that works at a pizza hotline and whenever she answers the phone she says, ‘Hi, ‘dis is Pizza Trish. What’s yo’ dish?’ And she had written answers to things people ask, like ‘What’s that little white plastic thing in the middle of the pizza?’ and she’d be like, ‘That’s the table for the mice after yo’ done with tha’ crumbs!’”
And while Gholamipour has excelled in performance, he maintains an interest in a show of his own — he recently teamed up with Ember Konopaki to devise their own comedy creation, sponsored by The Hero Show and Cam MacLeod.
“We’re going to produce this sister show of the Hero Show called SIDEKICKS. We realized in Vancouver that there’s not a lot of sketch shows so we were like, ‘Well what’s a way to get people working together doing sketch regularly?’ And we love the conventions of other shows in Vancouver. Like 10 Speed has a very strong format to that show. Sometimes groups are made for that show. So SIDEKICKS would be duos, strictly duos, and we’d have like eight acts. We’d either have already existing duos for sketch or just pair up random people together and get them to write a five-minute sketch.”
Whatever Gholamipour is doing, expect physicality and wild creativity. Expect something organic and free-flowing. But perhaps most importantly, don’t expect anything, because he’ll probably surprise you.
If you want to catch Gholamipour’s comedy, he performs most Sundays with Instant Theatre at the Havana Restaurant and his duo sketch show SIDEKICKS debuts at the China Cloud Theatre on November 27 at 9 p.m.