Improv: Spooktacular! Review

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Dave Condit

Juniors Taushaun Ewing, Greg Robson, Brad Gould and Macky Kavanaugh participate in the scene “Good, Bad, Worse.”

Bringing the theater department food drive to a close, the Improv team, Running with Scissors, put on Improv Spooktacular, a night of quick wit and truly terrific performances. Hosted by senior JD Lister, juniors Dakota Payne and Greg Robson, the night included the games “Presidential Debate,” “Cut to,” “Good, Bad, Worse,” “4, 3, 2, 1,” “Say what,” and “Call from God,” closing with “Prop Comedy” and “Joke Line.” The night overall had positive and negative aspects ranging from the audience to the actors. In honor of the best performance of the night, the following article will be structured under three categories: Good, Bad and Worse.

GOOD:

From the beginning, the team had the audience laughing. The presidential debate was between Ronald McDonald, played by  junior Charlie Huff and Christopher Walken, by Payne. Later scenes included random antics ranging from a blind Batman to trying to sell terrible rapping paper. By standard of impromptu humor, the actors and actresses put on a great night. Aside from humor, there was also a cohesion to the way their scenes went. No single actor attempted to take it over, or “bulldoze” the scene with their own ideas. One of the greatest moments of the nights was during “4, 3, 2, 1” when Lister acted all four parts of the scene out by himself, despite that being his least favorite game. In “Good, Bad, Worse,” watching Greg Robson get worked up as his character Smokey the Bear was genuinely hilarious. And, along with all of the excitement, flow, and humor, at the root of the night the point was to donate goods to the less fortunate. Through this perspective, the Improv Spooktacular was a complete success.

BAD:

There was a blend of reasons for problems with the night. As a performer, one of the hardest things to deal with is the nerves of appealing to the audience. This applies especially for the improv team, whose performance depends almost entirely on audience participation. So, when audience members are inclined to add their own comments, talk during a performance or give bad prompts, a show has its complications. If they had come to the conclusion that any prompt pertaining to Miley Cyrus was not funny or appropriate, the team may have had better prompts. To a even further extent, while one might think it’s funny to give the prompt “Dakota Payne’s ego” for “things that cannot fit into a paper bag,” I personally guarantee very few would have taken the joke as well as he did.

While some of the worse parts of the show were due to the audience’s participation, at least part of it can be attributed to the fact that — let’s face it— certain aspects of the show just were not funny. The best example of this, you ask? Huff should know that resolving a scene by taking his shirt off isn’t really as funny as it seems it could be. The scene of “People as Objects” didn’t have any real direction to it; Luckily, having sophomores Alex Hubbard and Yasslynn Wooten act as living props brought some life to it. Despite all of this, the actors and actresses gave it their best effort, and for a team made up of a lot of beginners, the show could have been a lot worse.

WORSE:

At the beginning of the show, the MC’s asked the audience to rid their brains of any profane, graphic or inappropriate prompts and stick them in a “brown bag.” Even without any prompts, the show had numerous instances of “brown bagging,” or making jokes that don’t need to be made. Though these jokes tend to be pretty widely accepted as funny, the team should have an understanding that there is a time and place for them: not in the show. And while these jokes are inconsequential, we should all take into account the amount of skill and talent it takes to be funny without reverting to lower forms of comedy.

So that I’m not ending this on a bad note, I should add that the night overall was great, with a few minor slip ups. With practice and dedication, I think the next show will surpass the Improv Spooktacular, and I think every member of the improv team has incredible talent. It’s hard to think on your feet, and they take that idea and make a show out of it. An entire night that they can’t prep for, they can only practice similar situations. So, this in mind, the show was outstanding, and every student should attend at least one performance in their high school career.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the Parkway School District.