GU Improv lets loose with first show of the year

There is no more outrageous group of people on campus than the Georgetown Improv Association. The comedy troupe hosted its first show on Saturday night and, if anything, it was certainly ridiculous and memorable if not 100 percent laugh-out-loud funny.

The show got off to an off-beat start. Improv Executive Producer Emlyn Crenshaw (COL ’15) asked the audience to shout out any word and someone who must have been daydreaming of a pumpkin spice latte said “pumpkin.” The troupe then individually came forward with a little word-association explanation of what the word pumpkin made them think. It seemed like they were just trying to get their creative juices flowing, but it was a slow way to start off an improv show.

When the show did take a hold on the audience, it never let go. Every skit was borderline absurd and many had so many on-the-spot jokes pouring out that it felt like they were scripted—which they weren’t.

That’s not to say the entire show was perfect—far from it, in fact. Many skits went down weird alleyways of randomness, and there were a few too many non-sequiturs to give the show an overall, cohesive force to the humor. The laughs came in hard spurts.

But that’s the nature of the beast. Improv is hit-or-miss and sometimes relies on the benefit of the doubt to come through successfully. The audience knew this and was right on the edge of their seats during the show. Improv is high risk and high reward. Each lackluster skit was made up for by four or five great ones. And, to Improv’s credit, troupe members had a great sense of when to come in and either end a faltering skit or spice one up with an extra character coming to deliver a pizza or ask to be picked up from soccer practice before the wolves descended from the woods.

In one skit, Connor Rohan (COL ’16) and Alex Mitchell played two brothers left home alone for the weekend with few food options and even fewer culinary skills. The skit culminated with each brother’s descent into a hunger-fueled, rage-filled shouting match. Something about Rohan’s voice in particular lends itself to the zany pseudo-reality of improv very well.

The final portion of the show was the best. Instead of separate skits with unrelated characters, Improv chose a format with two characters on stage at each time. Every time the skit needed refreshing, an offstage member of the troupe would replace someone else on stage and become a new character, but the other member would retain their character.

Using this format, Improv constructed an insane story that began with a giant pool of rhubarb pie and ended up at a border checkpoint in Nazi Germany, where a visitor got off on having his passport stamped.

Yeah, it sounds weird when you read about it, but it’s bizarrely entrancing when you see it play out. Don’t miss Improv’s other shows. They have a lot of talent already and even more room to grow.

Photo: Georgetown Improv Association

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