With Four Day Weekend, Fort Worth has its very own nationally-renowned show.
The vibrancy of Fort Worth’s core has no clearer representation than Sundance Square on the weekends. Amid the din of voices that populate the air on a Friday or Saturday night, chances are you’ll hear laughter, along with quotes and one-liners that may sound totally nonsensical heard out of context. You can thank Sundance Square Management for the vital atmosphere that pervades Fort Worth’s downtown. For the laughter, however, you have to give credit to Four Day Weekend.
The Four Day Weekend story began 20 years ago, when three friends pooled their resources to launch what they believed was a limited-run show.
“Three guys put in 700 dollars each, and the goal was to do a six-week run at the Casa Mañana theater on the square,” says David Wilk, Four Day Weekend co-founder and cast member. “We didn’t even know if people would come for six weeks.”
Four Day Weekend’s creation followed a series of concurrences reminiscent of the happenstance unity seen in the group’s improv sketches. Only by chance did the troupe settle on Fort Worth for its run, and the permanent residency that followed appeared as if designed by fate.
“We were all performing comedy in Dallas,” says David. “One of the founders said, ‘Hey, when was the last time you’ve been in Fort Worth?’ So we all piled in the car, and when we got there, Sundace Square was jumping. People were having coffee, sitting on patios; if you’re in downtown Dallas at 10PM, it’s because your greyhound bus was late.”
That very night, the group of comedians found a theater, made a pitch to the manager, and had their space for the six-week run. Now located in the Caravan of Dreams theater above the Reata, Four Day Weekend has performed over 5,000 times. Its performances, held twice-nightly on Fridays and Saturdays, regularly fill the theater to capacity. The act has become Fort Worth’s most famous show, a downtown date-night staple, and a required experience for visitors. Not only that, but the troupe has garnered national and international renown, and won a diverse array of accolades.
Fort Worth has recognized Four Day Weekend’s contributions to the community with the Key to the City of Fort Worth and title of Fort Worth’s Greatest Ambassadors. The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce named them the 2014 Small Business of the Year, and the troupe currently has distinction as the 2016-2017 Entrepreneurs in Residence at TCU’s Neeley School of Business. Additionally, the cast has met two presidents — George W. Bush and Barack Obama — and presented a keynote address to the United States Congress.
David attributes much of the group’s success to its “yes, and” philosophy.
“In the beginning, nobody knew how to run a business,” explains David. “Someone came up with the idea that we should run it like a stage show. On stage, the word ‘no’ doesn’t exist. We replace it with the words ‘yes, and’ to generate these out-of-box ideas that we would never otherwise have. Once we started that, things just exploded.”
The “yes, and” philosophy led directly to Four Day Weekend’s creation of its Training Center, which offers improv classes for students aged 18 and up. The philosophy has also led to Four Day Weekend’s newfound consultancy role, where they share the benefits of improvisation and collaboration to businesses and students.
If you’ve not yet experienced an act firsthand, consider this: Four Day Weekend travels the world to perform before enthusiastic crowds in locales as far-flung as Belgium, Hong Kong, and Singapore. The troupe plays the same circuits as entertainers like Jerry Seinfeld and Dana Carvey — and in Fort Worth you can see them anytime you want.
“We have fun, we don’t make fun of,” says David in summary of a typical show. “The whole show is predicated on meeting people and exploring ideas. Anything can happen. One night we ordered pizza on stage, and when the pizza guy showed up, we had a jam session with him.”
As one of the city’s representative institutions, Four Day Weekend has served as both catalyst and witness of downtown’s growth and transformation.
“Our success has been a confluence of Mother Nature, timing, and hard work,” says David. “We also have to give credit to everyone at Sundance Square Management. To watch what has happened to Sundance Square, as we were right there as a cornerstone, it’s been amazing. Thank God we chose Fort Worth!”