Fans of "Whose Line is it Anyway?" or "Drew Carey's Improv-A-Ganza" can see students trying their hand at improvisational comedy this weekend in Hilliard.
Fans of “Whose Line is it Anyway?” or “Drew Carey’s Improv-A-Ganza” can see students trying their hand at improvisational comedy this weekend in Hilliard.
At 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, the “Central Ohio Improvisational Comedy Competition” will take place at Davidson High School. For about two hours, teams of three to five students will attempt to best one another in a number of short-form (usually three minutes or less) improvisational comedy games, with the audience participating and selecting the winner.
An example of a game is the “alphabet scene.” Starting with “A,” each line spoken must start with the next letter of the alphabet, ending with “Z.” Another is “options.” During a scene, the actors are told to freeze at different times, and the audience is asked to provide information that the actors have to immediately use in the scene.
And then there’s the “superhero eulogy,” where actors pay their last respects by talking about how the hero developed his/her superpower, their arch-villain and demise.
Trace Crawford, drama director at Davidson, will host the contest for the 12th year. He said he comes up with a list of possible games for each round, and rolls a large die on stage to randomly choose the game.
Along with providing bits for the actors and voting, the audience also serves as censors. For example, if something inappropriate is said or done during a scene, they will make a gesture, and the actor(s) must wear a brown paper bag over their head to finish the scene. And if a scene is dragging, another audience gesture results in a quick finish.
The top three teams compete in the final round in a game called “party quirks.” A player goes offstage, and the remaining players are given an occupation or an attribute. The returning player has to guess what those are during a scene.
Davidson will likely have two or three teams drawn from its 25-member troupe in the contest; Bradley will participate, as will Walnut Ridge. Other teams from across the state have been invited, but as is the nature of improvisation, Crawford said, he usually doesn’t know how many teams will show up until the event starts.
“It is very challenging,” Crawford said. “A lot of groups, the more they practice the more comfortable they get doing it. Once you’re not thinking about the rules anymore, you’re free to be creative.
“The big thing with improvisation is that you always have to agree with your other players that are up on stage. The worst thing you can do is say, ‘Let’s go to the mall,’ and the next person says no.
“I call it ‘agree and embellish’: You agree with whatever the situation is, but then you add a little more information and take it in an unexpected place. A lot of times that ends up being something very funny.”
Admission is $5. There will be other competitions in March and May 2012.