Improvisation with a Dash of Singing

From superior scooter and tree stew to astronauts from Hell and the giant from Jack and the beanstalk, the penultimate performance of the College’s Take One! Improv club on Friday, April 22, was anything but just a show, complete with instrumental accompaniment, various singing personalities, and the signature audience interaction that seemed to have everyone in Cole Cinema grateful that they had nothing else to do that night.

Shows done by Improv, which include a group of students on campus from all years, are by definition not scripted, and no lines are planned in advance. Instead of coming prepared with set behaviors or actions, the team walks on stage with games in mind that they would like to play those games have certain rules that begin an improvised act based on requests from or interactions with that night’s audience.  Based on ideas, names, places, or even objects shouted out by the audience, the members of Improv act out (or in this case, sing out) a particular scene involving the audience’s elements as well as the rules of the game, with the goal of being authentic, funny, inappropriate, or even completely off-topic. The main principle is creativity, and the ability to expand on a small idea to keep the audience entertained.

The show, beginning at 10:30 p.m., had a musical theme, where all performances were done in song, and often with musical accompaniment.

“We decided to settle on a musical one because it offered a fun opportunity to do something new,” said junior and Improv performer Brooks Schandelmeier. “Musical comedy is usually fun for all involved.”

While there is some initial practice involved before the show involving the order of games and general warming up (in this case, two practices before the show), lines cannot be prepared without knowing how the audience will lead the performance.

“We practiced for a couple hours immediately before the show,” said first-year Ashok Chandwaney, “which is the normal show warmup process except with music.”

During the show, senior and club president John Conroy, junior Zach Eser, first-yea Ben Israel, sophmore Brendan Fitzpatrick, first-years Shelby Lawson, Schandelmeier, and Chandwaney took turns in groups acting out a game on stage. While every game had some musical element, every actor’s different style made each performance a unique element in the show, and the audience soon learned what it could expect when a performer returned for another game. But this certainly did not take away from the creativity of the show; the always-changing combinations of actors and games made for unexpected results each time the singers opened their mouths, and combined with constantly changing tones of music (performed by Israel and Eser) made for an entertaining performance.

Games included “Sounds Like A Song,” where the audience would shout the game title during an improvised skit among actors to force the last person speaking to sing about what they were just discussing; “American Idol” (hosted by Ryan Seacrest intimidator Schandelmeier), where performers would sing a song based on words shouted from the audience; and “Blues Jam,” when Eser and Schandelmeier belted out their harmonica-accompanied blues about pancakes.

“[Conroy] did a bunch of research by looking through other improv groups’ shows and games,” said Schandelmeier, “[and] others we got off of the show Whose Line Is It Anyway?

The show itself was part of a longer series of shows that have been going on this semester, beginning in the first week of April.

“The musical-based show … was part of a month long Improv event which had a show every Friday during the month of April,” said Eser.  “It was a tradition started last year and we worked really hard as a group this year to make Improv month that extra bit more enticing.”

The series ended last Friday with a final Senior Show at 10:30 p.m. in Cole Cinema, and will resume next semester with a new set of creative, hilarious, and overall entertaining performances.


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