meet the players of national comedy theatre

this month we meet… anthony thornton

If you have been to a show at NCT- chances are you have seen Anthony Thornton. Today we get to learn a little more about in him in a new segment we like to call… meet the players! Where we get to know more about the friendly, funny folk who take the stage each week at NCT Improv Comedy Club.

Tell us what you do at NCT- including shows you participate in and extra stuff?

At times is seems like I live at NCT. I love comedy and I love being able to get on stage and make people laugh, so I try to take every opportunity I can (except when it involves singing. Anthony is not a singer). I perform (either as a Ref, player, or Mr. Voice) almost every Friday and Saturday in our competitive shows. In the past, I have been a High School League Coachl, produced Stand-up shows and I have been a cast member of our Sketch shows. I teach workshops, and haved coached the NCT Longform Team. The thing I take the most pride in though is the Movie Mash-up. I got to run this project shortly after we started it, and get to direct some of our mash-up panels at nerd-heaven, Phoenix Comicon.

**Anthony can be seen at NCT in upcoming Improv Uncensored shows, featuring the Longform Team and Movie Mash-Up on Thursday March 17th and Thursday March 24th at 7:30pm. Both shows are $8 and unrated- recommended for audiences ages 17+. Get tickets HERE.

What is the funniest thing you have ever seen?

Monty Python and the Holy Grail. No… watching Kevin McDonald simultaneously explain and apologize for a scene during a screening of Brain Candy. No… the guy from Skid Row that dressed in a knitted shawl and floppy garden hat that closed out the open mic as “Mother Earth” before the main show at Garrett Morris’s Downtown Comedy Club in Downtown LA. So many choices! I think the funniest moment I can remember was Kevin McDonald jumping on stage with us and we all just standing back and trying to keep up with him. I’ve been a fan of Kids in the Hall since I was a wee little nerd and then years later I am on stage and he is groping me. #BucketlistComplete

**Kevin McDonald, of the Kids in the Hall has been to visit NCT on two different occasions. Each time he taught workshops and performed in shows with the cast of NCT as well as guest performers from NCT San Diego and Torch Theater. Video of our performance can be found on the NCT YouTube Channel and on our Google+ page.

When you do stand up, do you get lonely and miss the rest of us?

Hahahaha I always miss being on stage with my Improv family! My stand-up persona and my ref persona are very similar so it can be a little weird to look over to the wings and not see a red or blue polo. Stand-up is my first love, and when you are up there alone, the safety net of having someone waiting to help bail you out a bit that isn’t working is gone, and that makes the highs and bit higher and the lows a lot lower. I do find myself working new bits in my living room and thinking to myself, “If only I could get Heath, or Andi, or Paul to jump on this and work it out with me, I could find a stronger punch line or a better tag.” You lose the luxury of creating something together, so you have to stretch yourself a bit more and I think that helps me step up my level of play in improv, stand-up, and whatever I happen to be writing at the time.

What is your favorite improv game and why?

It’s a tie between Blind Line and Good Advice/ Bad Advice. Blind Line is great because sometimes the lines that we get from the audience can fit so perfectly into a scene. Other times, the lines we get from the audience make no sense, so you have to think fast on how to make it make work in the scene. Good Advice Bad Advice is great because I get to create a character and the audience helps me get to know that character as we go. The audience is helping me create the character without knowing it.

What is the best suggestion we’ve ever gotten?

When it comes to suggestions, I’m a sucker for nerdy things and almost anything from the 90’s, but I think the best suggestion I’ve got recently was a few weeks ago during 5 things. I forget the initial activity, but we swapped out a ball for the Head of Bob Dole. When it comes to improvisers, we love to challenge ourselves and getting the obscure suggestion of Bob Dole to show to a younger player was the most beautiful challenge. We didn’t get it right but we had a blast failing!

**To see Anthony play in NCT’s signature game- 5 Things and bring your own awesome suggestion, CLICK HERE for showtimes & tickets!

What makes you a good Ref?

My electric personality, my lightning fast wit, and being aggressively humble. I’m a pretty special individual. Ha ha! In reality I am a good ref for two reasons. Stand-up is what I what I attribute most of my skills as a Ref to. As a stand up comic you have to learn how to read a crowd, you have to learn to own the stage from the moment you’re introduced to the moment you step off for the night, and you learn to work with a crowd. As a stand up comic I am mostly a story teller, but I love doing crowd work and making each set a little different from the last. As a Ref I like to make little quips or facial expressions to play with the audience and the players on stage to keep the energy going between games. The second thing is, as a Ref at NCT- I am just an audience member that you have to listen to. I get to experience the show as they do and it allows them to relate to me a bit more and vice versa.

Which State Bird is most like you?

The Turkey… because I can’t fly.

What movie, TV show and book do you recommend to NCT fans?

Movie: My all-time favorite movie is Empire Strikes Back, you should watch it and love it so we can be friends. But I do recommend that everyone see Chef.  Jon Favreau (along with an amazing cast) put together a funny and heartwarming story and my wife and I loved it.

TV: Rick & Morty, Venture Brothers, and Baskets. Watch them. No explanations needed.

Book: Born Standing Up, The Chris Farley Show, and Batman: Under the Red Hood. (My bookshelf is filled with comic books and books about comedy.)

Tell us about Phoenix Comicon and what you have enjoyed that we have done over past years?

Phoenix Comicon is the biggest event in my house. My wife Becca and I start planning for the next Con the day after the current Con ends. Comicon has been the most incredible experience I’ve ever had. Nerd culture keeps growing and I get to go perform and be around people who love all things awesome the same way I do. Nerds appreciate things in a way that no one else can and it’s an amazing feeling to be on the receiving end of that appreciation. Comicon gave me my first IMDB credit (Blood Orgy of the Damned)! Last year’s Movie MashTerpiece featuring Star Wars Uncensored was incredible. That show brought in one of the biggest crowds we’ve had in the many years we’ve done panels and having people come up to me during the rest of con asking where our other panels were and when and how hard they laughed. It’s hard to explain how great of a feeling that is.

What are you looking forward to at Comicon this year?

Finding a way to top ourselves. The people who come back to our panels year after year mean a lot to me and I want to give them some more stuff they’ve never seen before. With the return of MST3K (who’s excited!? Get excited!) there is a bit of pressure we put on ourselves to step up what we do to and give you something new. Also my wife and I will be dressing up every day. Also… Billie Piper!

**You can find informationa bout Phoenix Comicon HERE and, as the event approaches, you will be able to search the Programming schedule to find Neighborhood Comedy Theatre’s many Movie MashTerpiece events! Add us to your ConQuest so that you don’t miss out on any of the magic.

Did Anthony get it wrong on the State Bird? Do you have any fond memories of Anthony on stage at NCT to share? Let us know in the comments!

And, stay tuned to the NCT Phoenix Blog for more Meet the Players segments coming soon!