Trick or Treat, Smell my Feet: Running With Scissors’ Improv Horror Show


Wagner Portrait Group

Bathed in spotlights, senior Jon Ma and freshman Brian Isele entertain the audience at the improv show Friday, Oct. 25.

Under spooky purple lights and a carefully curated soundtrack, I went into Running with Scissors’ Improv Horror Show Oct. 25 ready for some quality comedy. The team fully committed to their theme: the aforementioned purple lights and soundtrack and the team names for the night (“Clowns,” “King Size Candy Bars,” “Mr. E,” “Witch, Please!” and “IRS”) all added to the Halloween mood. As an audience member since eighth grade, I had high expectations for this show. Running with Scissors, as always, did not disappoint.

The improv team stitches together scenes in a way even Frankenstein would be proud of. Before each game, a team captain asks the audience for a word, usually using a finish-the-sentence prompt to help generate ideas. The highlights of the Improv Horror Show came from the most outlandish suggestions this time around. Standouts included “Mr. E’s” cowboy showdown scene prompted by the word “anime,” “King Size Candy Bars’” survival story based on the word “salmon,” and “Clowns’” marine-mammal-human family drama created by the audience choice “walrus.” 

Audience involvement is what keeps this show going, every scene starting with the improv captains calling “trick or treat” to the audience, who responded, “smell my feet.” The best improv audiences are those who will laugh at anything, and the attendees were nearly there. I say nearly because at times the good ole Running with Scissors quick wit and high energy was overshadowed by weaker points. Between scenes, the emcees sometimes struggled to explain the rules of whatever game came next, often relying on “you’ll figure it out” to finish the introduction. Alongside this, scenes often seemed to either be allowed to drag on past their prime or were cut off just as the improvers were warming up, leaving the audience feeling a little empty.

These weak points didn’t take too much from the show, though. Seniors Sophie Marx and Jon Ma and sophomores Max Lottes and Anthony Marx had especially outstanding performances. S. Marx, performing with “Mr. E,” was a dynamic part of her team, exercising control of her scenes and doing an excellent New York accent as she played a sleazy director. Ma, of “Clowns,” wasn’t afraid to go big, often falling, somersaulting or running around the stage. When Ma commits to a joke, he really commits. Lottes showed the important and usually unnoticed skill of saving a weaker scene; his performances with “Witch, Please” often being pulled back on track and kept interesting by his unexpected quips and original ideas, like narrating a tragically beautiful squid race. Finally, A. Marx broke the fourth wall during one scene, speaking directly to the emcees and surprising the audience as his team “IRS” took a turn for the surreal.

With just four shows every school year, stopping by a Running with Scissors improv show is definitely worth the $5 admission fee. Instead of spending a Friday night binge-watching Netflix, go see your classmates run around stage and crack some great jokes. This time around, the Improv Horror Show was a monstrous success, and I would recommend anyone go to check out the team’s work.


The Parkway West Pathfinder gives Running with Scissors’ The Improv Horror Show a 6.66 out of 10.