Dave ! Weaver gets laughs with Etch-a-Sketch

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Dave ! Weaver

Jon Purdy

IT'S LIKE SUGAR TO ME. 19 year-old Dave ! Weaver's "To Etch-a-Sketch" play was a hit at this year's Purple Shorts One-Act Play Festival.

Western boasts some of the most talented students in the arts. This week, Dave ! Weaver, writer/director of Purple Shorts’ “To Etch-a-Sketch” and member of UWO Comedy, takes the spotlight.

First-year social science student Dave ! Weaver didn’t just learn to love comedy " he was literally born into it.

With an exclamation point for a middle name " which he claims is on his passport and birth certificate " comedy was written into Weaver’s life before he could even speak.

Leaving a trail of laughing, tear-streaked audience members last week with his Purple Shorts play “ To Etch-a-Sketch,” the 19-year-old aspiring writer and actor is already working on his next plays.

“I swear, I’ve worked more on plays since I got here than I have school work,” he says.

A conversation with Weaver is like watching an animated cartoon. His excitement is as contagious as his hearty laughter. Brimming with funny observations, he interrupts his own stories by breaking into conversational re-enactments. He is a natural comedian.

“As a kid I was always kind of strange. I used to always go out of my way to try to embarrass my parents ... [But] they were like, ‘We can’t stop him. Let him go. We’ve got three other kids to worry about.’”

Weaver came to Western in September from Thamesville " a small town “in the middle of nowhere” " and noticed more people lived in his residence than his one-traffic light hometown.

In only his first month at Delaware Hall, Weaver and another soph set up a successful comedy night for the frosh. After hearing about Purple Shorts, he sat down with his friend, Josh Reaume, and brainstormed ideas.

“[Western] doesn’t have drama classes or anything here so it was really important to me that I got involved in Purple Shorts in any way possible. I went to the Theatre Western booth during clubs week and I told them, ‘I’ll do anything, anything at all, do you want me to work backstage, you want me to get you coffee?’ I ended up directing and MC-ing.”

“To Etch-a-Sketch” is a series of sketch comedy pieces similar to Whose Line is It Anyway? During the one-act play festival, Weaver and a group of four actors generated bouts of laughter from the crowd with skits about God creating the world with an Etch-a-Sketch and heart attacks during Art Attack. The crowd favourite was the depressed Timbit sketch " an idea Weaver got at his office job during the summer.

“Once in a while, people would bring in a box of donuts, and that day someone did and there was one donut that nobody wanted and it sat there all day. Everyone would be like, ‘Hey donuts!’ open the box and go, ‘Nahhh,’ and walk away.

“I was sitting, thinking, ‘That donut must be so sad. What if that donut can talk?’ And I was at work and I opened up Microsoft Word and just wrote out this sketch while I was at work.”

In high school, Weaver pitched the idea of having an improv team to one of his teachers. They started a troupe and have been doing comedy with the high school students for three years. Weaver continued his experience here at Western.

“There’s a lot more open-minded people here ... the difference between doing high school comedy and university comedy is that people go to laugh [at university]. Like, have you ever been to a high school drama class? You put on your play for your drama class and everyone in the audience is competition. They’re all like, ‘It’s funny. I’m not gonna laugh because your play won’t be better than mine.’ [But at Western], the audience is all about the show,” Weaver adds.

“It felt really great and it’s a good sign that comedy is alive and well here and that obviously people love to laugh.”

Catch Dave ! Weaver next Tuesday at 2 p.m. at The Spoke for an encore presentation of “To Etch-a-Sketch” as part of the Festival of the Arts Week.

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