View Full Version : What Is Your Best Serendipitous Improv Show Experience?

Kit's Alter Ego
January 16, 2004, 11:15 PM
Spring 2001

We had a show scheduled for the opening night of a play in the professional theater around the corner. To make the situation more dismal, it was also Date Night at some local popular establishment.

It was also pouring rain.

We'd spent the last week hanging flyers and chalking advertisements on the sidewalk, but the night before the show, some internet company had paid college students to plaster hundreds of posters for the internet company over the top of any and all message boards. Also, the rain washed away all the chalk, just as it kept people inside away from us.

Our cast was 6 people that night, and we were looking at an audience of three. A troupe rule stated if there were less audience members than performers then the show would be cancelled and turned into a workshop that the audience could either watch or take part in.

Understandably, we six wanted to have a show, not a workshop, so we delayed the show fifteen minutes and ran through the rain to the Student Center. There, we improvised 7 or 8 different ad campaigns and mock dialogues coercing the people in the Student Center into coming to the show. A couple of the dialogues actually involved one person pretending to be a regular citizen being talked into watching improv. One of the other campaigns involved us randomizing four-word phrases and comparing our improv to the resulting concepts.

Leading a group of ten or so back to the theater, we found three more people had arrived, bring our total to 16 plus some non-performing improvisers.

During that show, I knocked over a source-4 (a theater light) that had been left backstage, and broke the bulb in it. Later, during a scene of Space Jump (or Staircase Freeze, if you prefer), one of my scene partners was a magician and he forced me into a small lidded box that had been set on stage for use as a seat. It was very small, and when he tried to close the lid, as if performing a magic trick on me, the side gave way, and I collapsed backwards, slightly impaling myself on the nails sticking out of the side.

On the technical side, our improv was above average for most of the show, but it royally stunk during a game of Party Quirks, during which the audience actually booed once when one performer gave an overly obvious clue to his identity way too early in the game (Host: "What do you do for a living?" Andrew Lloyd Webber: "I write musicals." Audience: Boo!)

After the show, however, one woman came up to us and said, "I want to thank you for dragging me to this tonight. I'd never been to one of your shows before. I really enjoyed it...Look, I'm with the Freshmen Orientation Committee...how would you like to do a show for all the incoming freshmen this fall?"

So it all came out right in the end.


PS: Oh, and we in the cast went out to eat afterwards and had an awesome time then too.