Having left the improv world 13 years ago, Scott Greer believes his skills have collected a touch of dust, but as he prepares to end his hiatus, his comedic talent and timeliness seem intact.
“I’m probably going to have to wear a diaper,” the 42-year-old performer said Friday from his home on the 800 block of Federal Street. “Because I’ll be with so many great people, though, I’m confident I’m in good hands.”
Instead of being a literal party pooper, the Passyunk Square dweller intends to pay homage to his former extemporaneous existence Saturday when he and 39 peers, including wife Jen Childs, unite at University City’s World Cafe Live to help ComedySportz to mark its 20th anniversary.
“I value having the opportunity because my improv training helped me to embrace and jump into the unknown without fears and judgments, and that’s helped me to increase my range as an actor,” Greer, whose tenure with the laugh-inducing troupe lasted from shortly after its 1993 inception to 2000, said. “I see this as a big deal to me as an entertainer.”
Along with South Philadelphians Kevin Dougherty, Noah Herman and Dave Jadico, he and his 15-year bride will engage in refereed tussles to tally points and further their reverence for life’s lighter aspects. Having replaced unscripted occasions with text-driven tests, he still esteems improv as a key capable of unlocking his creativity.
“Artistically, I’m always looking for people and material that can make me better and challenge me,” Greer said. “In the theatrical universe, that’s what I would hope everyone would want, no matter if someone’s interests are comedic, dramatic or in between. With improv, we generate the material, but that same sort of spirit and vibe should be present.”
Adding that the form also has intensified his presence in the present and sharpened his listening ability, the consummate professional expects Saturday to add to his impressive history of pleasing patrons and is not worrying much about the effects of the residual rust from his improv break. Rather than fretting, he is foreseeing a whimsical evening celebrating a prevailing influence on his life and a call to realize that when matters have one feeling morose, laughter remains the best medicine.
“I’m certainly ready for a great time,” Greer said. “It’s going to be a great way to stay fresh, and I expect my friends will want to put everyone in stitches, too.”
Along with serving to rekindle his spontaneity, the weekend endeavor will find Greer reconnecting with comedy, his initial siren. A native New Yorker, he spent his formative years in Atlanta, gravitating toward humorous pursuits through his appreciation for Bill Cosby, Billy Crystal, Eddie Murphy, Monty Python and “Saturday Night Live.”
“I was always a good mimic, and my interest in drawing out laughter sent me on the road I’m still on today, although the path has had a few alterations,” Greer said. “By college, it was pretty clear what I wanted to do.”
Earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in acting from the Empire State’s Adelphi University, he came to strengthen an attraction to meatier material and moved to Philadelphia in 1992 as a Walnut Street Theatre apprenticeship winner. The next few years included a plethora of plusses, including the genesis of his ComedySportz identity; the beginning of his most successful stage relationship with Old City’s Arden Theatre Co., for whom he will appear in this fall’s “Parade” and next spring’s “Three Sisters”; and his ’96 relocation to South Philly with Childs, who in ’98 co-founded 1812 Productions, the nation’s lone professional theater company dedicated to comedy.
“I come up with ideas for ‘This Is The Week That Is,’” Greer said of dabbling as a scribe for 1812, which has its administrative office at the former Our Lady of Mount Carmel School, 2329 S. Third St., and its consistent crowd-pleaser. “It’s great to aid that process.”
Though he enjoys being an originator, he has gained his reputation primarily as an interpreter. With the stage becoming a consistent courter of his artistic ardor, he left ComedySportz to expand his skill set, a decision that has borne considerable fruit. He captured the 2001 Outstanding Leading Actor in a Play Barrymore Award for InterAct Theatre Co.’s “It’s All True” and the Outstanding Leading Actor in a Musical honor for Arden’s “Baby Case” in ’02, the same year yielding the F. Otto Haas Award for Emerging Philadelphia Theater Artist.
“I feel especially honored to have the Haas because that made it really clear I could make a few waves,” Greer, who joined his partner as a winner of the accolade and added another Barrymore in ’08 as Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical for the Arden’s “Assassins,” said.
With dozens of pieces decorating his résumé, he has successfully achieved his goal of constantly evolving as he matures.
“Some people can phone it in, but I thoroughly enjoy everything I’m in,” Greer, whose most recent work was in “North of the Boulevard” by Theatre Exile, 1340 S. 13th St., said. “I never get bored because Philadelphia has afforded me the chance to have a diverse career.”
He also never experiences tedium as a father, as he and Childs are rearing a thriving 9-year-old daughter. As he and his ladies age, Greer is realizing even more how fortunate he is to be earning his living as an actor, what with financial peril seeming to threaten the arts’ survival. Enamored with his occupation, he knows that though venues will change, his appreciation for pages cannot.
“To serve the play, to tell the story,” he said of the heart of his craft. “Style and tone are important, but they’re dressing. Great theater is being made here, and I’m lucky to be where I am.”
For tickets, visit comedysportzphilly.com.
Contact Staff Writer Joseph Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org or ext. 124.