By Matt James, contributing writer
Stepping into a crowded MUB Entertainment Room, the lights shine bright and there are hardly any seats left. There’s no need to stand though, you might as well jump up on stage.
This past Thursday night, the line to the Improv Anonymous show was out the door and into the hall. The room was full of people waiting to see this weeks brand new show.
“You’re not going to know what to expect,” said James Banatoski, UNH student attending the show. “It’s a different thing each week.”
Although nothing is really planned out beforehand, there is some structure to Improv. The cast has a number of set “games”, as they call them, to take and run with. “Dream Scene” is a game where the audience is called on to describe a scene for the cast to act out. “Intervention” is a game where the audience decides what addiction a cast member is suffering from and then that cast member has to figure it out for himself or herself. This past week’s scene was an intervention on a young girls habitual “sweat collection.”
“There’s something for everybody in the audience,” said Greg Goulski. “You can have a whole scene modeled into your life”.
Hopefully no one’s actually collecting sweat, though.
Another game called “Action Line” involves quick little improve skits with some on-the-spot topics. Thursday night’s included, “World’s Worst Plow Guy”, “Mei Wei”, and “Nyquil the Movie,” where frequent audience and now cast member, Mason White, stepped forward and basically trust fell into no one, smashing right against the floor.
“I’ll do anything for a laugh,” said White. “I think to myself, “Am I really going to do this? Yeah, I am.’”
A game that the group always ends with is called “Freeze.” This is where the audience and the entire cast really get involved.
It starts with a topic yelled out by an audience member and from there goes anywhere that people want to take it. Anyone from the cast or audience can “tag in” anytime they want to be part of the scene. First it was a skit on a “Licker Store,” then it somehow turned into a puppet show, and then into a wedding when an audience member jumped on stage in an attempt to marry two of the cast members. Somewhere between that and an old struggling grandpa, there is a ballet class. While this may seem pretty random, the game actually flows very well.
“There are a lot of inside jokes,” said cast member Cameron Calato, “But the audience is in on them.”
Improv Anonymous has been around for a while here at UNH, but was previously known as “Theater Sport.” They do events at fraternities, sororities, the MUB and even some dorm shows.
The club holds auditions once every semester where no experience is necessary, though it might be nice to get a taste for it by jumping up on stage during the “Freeze” game.
“Were like a strange foster family that causes a lot of problems,” said member Rebecca Bishop.
As Goulski said, shows are a “weekly release of stress and energy” for much of the cast, and it’s only made possible by all of the clear trust the members have in each other on stage.
When the cast does “bomb” on occasion, it’s often funnier than if they had of gotten the joke right. They don’t focus on the “bomb,” they just keep moving ahead with the games.
Their reliance on each other on and off the stage is so evident as they build and capitalize off of jokes, even when it’s taking something not so funny and making it hilarious.
Bishop summed up this way of finding a laugh in every situation and adapting to surrounding, saying, “Improv should be an attitude applied to life.”
Improv Anonymous holds shows every Thursday night at 9 pm in the MUB Entertainment Center and can be followed in Twitter and Instagram @improvunh.