Winners 40 under 40 David Jones, Diana Frances, Lee-Anne Ragan

Artistic director; managing director; communications director, Rock-Paper-Scissors Ages: 39, 34, 38

Business in Vancouver Dec. 30, 2003-Jan. 5, 2004

David Jones, Diana Frances and Lee-Anne Ragan have earned success in the challenging career of corporate comedy speaking engagements, nabbing big clients along the way.

Pfizer, ICBC and the New Vista Society have all contracted the comedy troupe known as Rock-Paper-Scissors for seminars and training sessions aimed at improving corporate team-building and innovative thinking.

The trio are also the first improvisational comedy company to perform for the Canadian peacekeepers in Bosnia, Egypt, Israel and Newfoundland. They also performed for Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan as recently as December.

The troupe has grown to have three divisions. One, called Laughing Matters, focuses on corporate training and team-building. A second, called Community Works, provides humorous community-based training. A final division delivers corporate entertainment with what the group calls the “wow” factor.

The troupe’s path to success started when Jones and an eclectic collection of singers and comics performed material for unimpressed critics in 1992.

Undeterred by the bad reviews, Jones persisted thanks to one reviewer’s assertion that he showed promise.

“I don’t think I would have been so driven if that critic hadn’t hinted that I had potential,” the 39-year-old said.

His tenacity bore fruit. Companies including IBM, BC Hydro and Ballard Power Systems Ltd. hired Rock-Paper-Scissors to make people laugh at their meetings and incentive trips.

Frances joined Jones in 1995 and took over handling the business management, forging new client relationships, adding temporary performers and crafting a solid business.

“It was important to me to establish Rock-Paper-Scissors as an ethical and reliable company, not only to our clients but to the performers who worked for us,” Frances said.

Soon Rock-Paper-Scissors productions such as The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Blankety Blank, The Unknown Musical and A Twisted Christmas Carol were remounted by professional theatre companies in Vancouver and Victoria. They won several local and national comedy awards and started writing and producing shows for television and radio.

They created works for trade shows from New Orleans to Las Vegas and performed at conventions in Vancouver, Whistler, Saskatchewan and Halifax.

They also performed at numerous charity events, raising money for youth, health and women’s issues. In particular, they produced the annual Sketch in Time benefit for the ALS Society of B.C., which helps those afflicted with Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Frances and Jones incorporated Rock-Paper-Scissors as a company in 2000 and decided to bring Ragan on board.

Ragan brought experience as a facilitator and trainer who was in demand in corporate circles. She ran a company called Community Works and used fun and creative activities combined with practical knowledge during facilitation sessions.

Rock-Paper-Scissors brings members of various Lower Mainland improvisation companies together and fosters collaboration. It also presents international teachers for professional development and seeks up-and-coming talent.

Profession you would like to try: I make my living making people happy, I can imagine nothing better (DJ)

Where do you feel most comfortable? In front of a group of strangers (DJ)

Favourite movie: The Great Muppet Caper (DJ)

Currently reading: Airline schedules (DF)

Toughest decision: When I took the plunge as an artist and business woman and quite the day job that was the fall-back plan (DJ)

Car: I don’t drive, I get driven (DJ)

Would most like to meet: Myself 30 years from now (LR)

Born: I was concieved in Churchill, Manitoba, born in Vancouver en route to California (LR); Vancouver, BC (DF); Guelph, Ontario. As soon as I realized where I was I left (DJ)

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