On Thursday night Dallas Comedy House will host a sex education class.
The instructor — while not certified by the state of Texas, or any state, or actually any medical board real or imaginary — is described as having read “dozens of pamphlets and blog posts on sex and sexual health.” The instructor’s name is “Sex” Ed Vincent, a character from the mind of comedic actor and performer Paul Brittain, and he’s the star of a unique interactive comedy show coming to Dallas.
The show is structured as a seminar, not unlike the ones scarcely attended at a Ramada Inn on an early Saturday morning, hosted by “Sex” Ed Vincent, an amateur sexual education teacher. Part scripted, part improvised, the audience is treated to well-meaning, but poorly informed sexual health lessons, with a question-and-answer period at the end for audience members still curious to learn more.
The character of “Sex” Ed Vincent might be most memorably seen on SNL when Brittain performed him as a cast member from 2010 to 2012, but the character of “Sex” Ed goes further back to Brittain’s days as an improviser in Chicago. The character debuted as a guest on a fake late-night talk show hosted by a pre-Daily Show Jordan Klepper, and immediately it felt look a good fit. Brittain saw the character’s potential in a one-person show but still wanted to fine-tune what the show would exactly be.
“I’d been wanting to come up with a solo show for myself,” Brittain says. “But the thing that I was never super crazy about is that thing where you’re doing a solo sketch show and essentially you have to be speaking to nobody. You’re only hearing one half of the conversation. That thing, that dynamic, it just wasn’t my favorite, so when it occurred to me, ‘Oh, the audience are paying seminar participants, and I can perform directly to them rather than to an empty spot on the stage,' I realized that would be an engaging way of doing it. It would be super fun for me and kind of fresh and different every time.”
On the Saturday following the “Sex” Ed show, Brittain will also host a sold-out improvisation workshop at Dallas Comedy House. The primary focus will be to teach improvisers the skills to create more realistic, grounded characters and choices, rather than over-the-top, “jokey” premises. It might seem counter-intuitive to what most probably expect when they hear improvised performances, but the primary focus on improvised training comes from listening and reacting, and not the improv games made famous in Whose Line Is It Anyway?
Brittain himself remembers Whose Line Is It Anyway? being his introduction to an improvised performance.
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“That was my only conception of what improv could be up until really I saw long form at Improv Olympic in Chicago,” Brittain says. “That’s the thing about it, there’s very few examples of it you can find that are recorded."
Brittain continues to work as an actor, most recently appearing in the film Killing Gunther and providing voices for the Hotel Transylvania series. At the same time he is at work on an animated script and producing a new upcoming podcast, but performing live and with characters of his own creation is still one of the major passions of his career.
“(The) thing about "Sex" Ed I love is that the character and the show/subject matter are so evergreen,” Brittain says. “A well-meaning but awkward, square guy talking about sex and intimate body parts is always going to be good comedy fodder. So it's fun for me to keep adding new stuff and changing things up as I do the show over the years.”