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Here’s an idea whose time has come: improv comedy for Catholics!

No joke. And just in time for Lent, too!

From the Catholic Herald:

Perhaps there is no parish fund-raiser Catholics appreciate more than the Friday fish fry. For something new, effective, and less fattening, parishes may want to try Fish Sticks – Fish Sticks Comedy – instead of the cod or perch fish fry.

Fish Sticks Comedy is an improvisational comedy group that encourages audience participation in a welcoming, family-friendly environment while raising money for the parish or school. Fish Sticks Comedy began more than a year ago as a way to help churches, schools and other non-profits raise money and provide family-friendly entertainment.

Whit Shiller, one of Fish Sticks Comedy’s founders, has been a member of Milwaukee’s ComedySportz improv group for more than five years, after his wife gifted him with a ComedySportz workshop.

“It’s a different part of my brain to exercise,” said Shiller, a state planning and corporate lawyer. “It’s fun to play around and see what develops. Some people find it terrifying to get up there when it’s unscripted, some get a charge out of it, and I get a charge out of it.”

ComedySportz is an unscripted, improvisational comedy show where audience members are asked to participate in sketches or shout out ideas to the actors on stage. The television show, “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” is an example of improv comedy, similar to ComedySportz and Fish Sticks.

Shiller, a Christian, was brainstorming ideas with Dave Rust, a fellow member of Milwaukee’s ComedySportz.

“Dave and I share a faith and had thoughts of how we could use this for a higher purpose,” said Shiller. “We wanted to make sure the line wasn’t blurred; we wanted it squeaky clean. So we started figuring out the format.

“I had a ‘God moment’ the Sunday after we booked our first show,” he explained. “After church service, the guy sitting behind me, who knew about my work with ComedySportz and is a reporter for the Journal Sentinel, said they’re doing a story about Christian comedy and asked if I knew of any.”

Thanks to the publicity from the Journal Sentinel article, Fish Sticks Comedy sold out its first show.

Fish Sticks has performed at churches, schools, company parties and more. Its audience demographic has ranged from 4 weeks to 92 years old. Members include Shiller, Rust, Nancy Mueller and John Guarnero. Shiller said the idea to use their comedic talents to raise money for churches came from his wife.

“We were trying to think of how to make it meaningful,” he said. “The idea to raise money for churches was my wife’s idea. A portion of the ticket price goes to a church or group. Most shows have a percentage going to the organization. It’s a win-win for us. We’re doing it for fun; we’re not going to get rich, but we get to have fun and raise money. In our first year we helped raise between $5,000-10,000 for different churches and schools, so we’re OK with that.”

You can read more at the Herald link.

And you can check out the Fish Sticks own website to see video samples of their work.