On Friday evening, Genetics and Plant Biology’s room 100 was packed with students for some improv routines by four campus teams: jericho!, Best Laid Plans, improv4charity and TBD Comedy. Partially a joint showcase, partially a pitch for people to come to auditions, the event gave each group time to demonstrate their own distinct style and brand.
jericho! improv & sketch comedy
The jericho! team started out the night with a montage set that lasted about 15 minutes. It was the largest group, with nine performers on stage, which made it difficult to operate in the short set times. The group focused on a few scenes, letting them draw out longer than usual, which created a nice sense of cohesiveness and completeness — though at the expense of getting all members equal time. The gamble paid off, though — despite the difficulty of the longer scenes, almost all of them wrapped around to a hilarious conclusion.
Best Laid Plans Improv
Best Laid Plans followed up with another montage set, but in contrast to jericho!, focused on shorter scenes throughout — a fact highlighted by one moment when several performers ran from the lecture hall, only to return to the stage through another door and into a completely different scene. These hijinks, and a meta-commentary on them being in the wrong scene, brought plenty of laughs from the audience. But the group was also somewhat heavy-handed on the “swipes” which force a scene change — often, bits were cut prematurely when it seemed like there was more to pull from a scene.
Breaking with the montage approach, improv4charity chose a short form format for its performance. A nice fun-and-games interlude to the overall show, improv4charity prompted the most audience interaction, basing a series of short, unrelated scenes on audience call-outs. One game had the audience call out several film genres — yes, including porn — and the two performers replayed a scene in each one. In another popular scene, two performers faced the wall and narrated the dialogue for a scene while two other performers attempted to act it out live — at some points, even predicting the upcoming dialogue to mouth it correctly.
TBD Comedy closed out the show with a montage of longer scenes. The small group — only a few performers were on stage, and the group hasn’t taken new members since last fall — clearly had a lot of chemistry as it worked through its set. In one of the show’s highlights, a scene featured a “two-one-one” date from “The Bachelor” that then found its way into subsequent scenes. They also, upon the audience suggesting the word “revenge” launched into two scenes centered around the Avengers that had the audience in stitches.
All in all, Improvaganza was a great way to introduce students to the improv groups on campus. All four groups went slightly over their allotted time — and no one in the audience seemed to mind. The extra time, if anything, gave audience members a chance to get to know each group better. But ultimately, 15 minutes is never enough to enjoy a group fully — perhaps the best incentive for people to take the time to check out each group at their own respective full-length shows.