By Karen Borta

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FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) – If you love great live comedy, you don’t need to go to SNL in New York or Second City in Chicago. All you have to do is head to Sundance Square in Fort Worth.

Four Day Weekend is the longest-running improv show in the southwest, and over the last two decades has become a must-see event in North Texas.

After 19 years, the improv comedians at Four Day Weekend know how to put on a great show. They perform to sold out audiences twice every Friday and Saturday night. But things didn’t come easily in the beginning. Two of the group’s co-founders, Dave Wilk and Frank Ford, remember the struggle of having to bring in an audience each weekend… after the headliner, Forever Plaid, left the stage at 11 p.m.

“We would seat them,” recalls Ford, adding, “we were the ushers…we were the ticket sales.”  “And then at intermission,” chimes in Wilk, “we’d go back and sell them beer out of a cooler!”

The pair got their big break when a writer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram saw their show and did a full-page write up. “People now, thanks to Todd Camp and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, realized, ‘Oh, this is here? And it’s the thing to do?’ And so we just became the thing to do,” says Ford.

Since that time, their careers have skyrocketed. They perform not just at their theater in Sundance Square, but they hold team building seminars for corporate clients such as American and Southwest Airlines, and the Hyatt Corporation. They’ve even given the keynote address to the Congressional Democratic Caucus.

They attribute a lot of their success to something that’s inherent in improvisation — the “Yes, and…” philosophy. That is, saying yes and then building upon it — never even considering the alternative.

“It’s the ‘Yes, and…’ philosophy, so anything is possible. The sky’s the limit,” says Ford. “It’s because we never put any restrictions on ourselves. We just say Yes, and… to everything.”

The pair says they do hear occasionally from frustrated patrons who mistakenly believe Four Day Weekend performs four days a week. They say the name actually came from an episode of The Simpsons.
“Homer doesn’t go into work on Thursday, and he gets in trouble and they call his house,” explains Wilk. “Marge says, ‘Homer, your boss called, and if you don’t come in on Friday, don’t bother coming in on Monday.’ And Homer misunderstands and says, ‘Woo-hoo! Four day weekend!’”

Now, almost 20 years later, they’re entertaining a whole new generation of fans. Admirers include the grown children of some of their earliest audience members. Ford says, “They’ve watched us grow up. And we’ve grown up with the city of Fort Worth.”

“Yeah,” adds Wilk. “We got in right at the right time, and Fort Worth has just embraced us. It’s amazing.”

Yes, and…their future is only looking up from here. The comedians at Four Day Weekend were recently named Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Texas Christian University’s Neeley School of Business. They’ll be teaching business students how to succeed using their “Yes, and” philosophy.

Four Day Weekend plans to also release their first book, Happy Accidents, early next year.

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