Since 1997, I have performed a fair bit of Improvisational Comedy, including participating in performances and workshops run by the Bad Dog Theatre (formerly Theatresports Toronto).
I have performed (see photo1, photo2, photo3, photo4, photo5) with a variety of different improvisors at a number of different clubs (including the Solar Stage, the Oasis, Harbourfront, the Village Playhouse, the Poor Alex Theatre), the Bad Dog Theatre, and the Black Swan (see e.g. here). On occasion I have also hosted shows, provided colour commentary, etc. Over the years, I have collected a few improv truths. See also my player profile.
In July 1999, I performed music and some voices for the Star Trek spoof radio play Chronocide (see mp3).
In 2001, I began combining improv with my interest in performing music, by providing the musical accompaniment for numerous improv shows, at such locations as Harbourfront, the Village Playhouse, the Poor Alex, Blue Heaven, the Ambassador Hotel, the Bad Dog Theatre, and the Black Swan (see photo1, photo2, photo3, video clip, cartoon). I have also written an article about improv music.
More recently, I created and posted some semi-improvised comedy short films. I've also continued to perform live on-and-off, e.g. in one eight-day period in February 2012 I appeared in four different comedy shows.
In most Decembers from 2012 onwards, I have performed musical accompaniment for the Flashman comedy show at Spadina House; see this CBC Radio piece about it (or here), and photo1 / photo2, and related links here and here and here. It later became a podcast.
In the period 2013-2018, I performed a number of times with the improv comedy troupe Virtual Man Hugs, including at Winprov. I also performed musical accompaniment for quite a few Oakville Improv Theatre Company shows.
In June 2015, I performed music in the Mumberley Inheritance play (see flyer, poster, Facebook, photo, review text, review1, review2, YouTube1, YouTube2). (Review quote: "Ranieri's directorial enhancements include the piano backgrounds of Jeff Rosenthal who also must contend with the numerous challenges and threats from the on-stage cast-members. His selections may suit the events taking place, but nevertheless glean their own laughs for being so corny and puerile.")
In February 2017, I performed musical accompaniment and voices for a Sherlock Holmes short play (see video).
In September 2017, at a Virtual Man Hugs show, I performed a fully improvised song with fully improvised lyrics (see also two excerpts).
On New Year's Eve at the end of 2017, I performed musical accompaniment at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts for Not To Be Repeated including Kathy Greenwood (see photo), where we all sang Auld Lange Sein (see photo).
Beginning in March 2019, I have performed musical accompaniment for the sketch comedy show Middle Raged in Oakville and Toronto with Geri Hall and Gary Pearson (see postcard, cast photo, dinner, review1 including "a mastery of sketch comedy ... opened with a bouncy parody of Walking on Sunshine", review2 including "Best are the song parodies, accompanied by keyboardist/guitarist Jeff Rosenthal"). It was remounted at Toronto Fringe 2019 (see review3 including "Musician Jeff Rosenthal provides music and sound effects on keyboard, helping the duo poke fun at all the clichés of modern middle age", review4 including "sing a number of songs accompanied by musician Jeff Rosenthal. The songs are funny too, riffing on some of the hits from their younger days"). In 2021, it was remounted, in big theatres in Brantford and North Bay. In 2022, I performed it again in Ajax, Brantford, North Bay, six(!) different locations in Newfoundland, Hamilton, Oakville, and Chatham. And it continued into 2023.
In Sept 2022, I performed music and voices for a Sherlock Holmes radio play with the famous actor R.H. Thomson (photo1, photo2), with honorary director Nicholas Meyer (photo1, photo2), at the 221B Jubilee Conference.
In 2023, I performed musical accompaniment for the Captain Flashman: Defender of the Universe podcast -- check it out!
In addition to actual improv, I have also done some other improv-like performing, including:
- In September 1995, I performed as a clown at my nephews' birthday party in Hamilton. I wore a clown costume, makeup, red nose, and red wig, and I juggled and sang songs (see photo1, photo2, photo3, photo4). The next year I dressed up as a pink bunny (see photo).
- I have been known to play Lt. Worf (from Star Trek), and even a Jedi.
- In December 2021, I was a guest on Kelly Zemnickis' cooking show It'll Be Fine.
- It could be argued that my teaching, and even my entire life, are really just improv scenes ...