Kevin Allen has been coming to Sarasota, FL, since he was in utero, going on to spend countless holidays and breaks from school with his family at Siesta Key. Today he calls this spot in paradise home as a regular cast member of FST Improv. We sat down with Kevin to learn more about his Sarasota roots and what makes Life’s A Beach such a special show for him to perform on Saturday nights.
You’re originally from the Chicago area and you studied improv there. What led you to arrive and settle in Sarasota?
My family has always known Sarasota as a second home. My grandparents bought a condo on Siesta Key in 1979, and this area has been the backdrop for Christmases, Thanksgivings, spring breaks and summer road trips from the time I was a baby. I actually worked at FST as one of my first jobs out of college before returning to Chicago to study improv and further my career. When my wife and I decided we were ready for a change of pace and wanted to start a family, Sarasota had everything we were looking for.
How would you describe FST Improv’s new show, Life’s A Beach, for someone new to the Sarasota area?
Life’s a Beach is a high-energy evening of comedy with a twist that’s uniquely Sarasota. It combines classic improv games with scene suggestions based on local eateries and points of interest – plus a few of the area’s most delightful quirks (I’m looking at you, roundabouts!)
Which game is your favorite to perform and what makes it so special for you?
I love all the games we play because each one forces me to flex a different creative muscle, but recently I’ve been having a lot of fun with “Radio Call-In.” One improvisor plays the “radio host,” and the audience suggests a Sarasota-centric topic.
From there, the game is really character-driven. You can’t pre-plan who you’re going to be or what you’re going to talk about – it all depends on the topic and the direction the radio host takes it. This game provides a platform to come up with some bizarre characters. One recent suggestion was “sand,” and I came on as “Dan Sand, heir to the Sarasota sand fortune.” It’s absurd, I know, but so much fun to play around with.
FST Improv’s cast is so clever and comfortable with one another. What do you most enjoy about the blossoming improv scene here?
The community that has built up around this art form is nothing short of incredible. When I first did Improv in Sarasota 15 years ago, the community was small and we were all very close. Now, it’s much larger, but it’s as tight knit as ever. When we’re waiting in the wings before a performance, we tap each other on the back and say, “I’ve got your back.” It reassures each other that we’re all here for the same reasons — to honor and support each other. My fellow cast members are some of my closest friends now, and I feel very fortunate to have FST as an artistic home.
What is your favorite Sarasota activity to enjoy when you’re not onstage? What is something about Sarasota you love to laugh at during Life’s A Beach?
Every time I think I’ve done it all or seen all there is to see here, a new experience or opportunity presents itself. Plus, I have a four-year-old daughter now, and experiencing the Sarasota-Manatee area through her eyes is a hoot, especially when she tries to tell me that 70 degrees is “cold.”
Life’s A Beach will play in FST’s Bowne’s Lab every Saturday night at 7:30PM through July 31. For tickets and more information, click here.