Stand-up Guy

Literally, not figuratively

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Just found a paper I wrote in 2011 about seeing my first live improv show

Here it is in all its ignorant glory:

Ryan Priestle

IART 117

Art Event Report

            I went to see an OU Improv comedy show featuring two improvisational comedy groups: “Black Sheep” and “The Amsterdam Alliterates” on Tuesday, April 19, 2011. Their shows sometimes change venue from week to week, but this one was held in the Front Room at Baker. This was not a full show, but a smaller show to get some buzz going for their normal Thursday night shows. Because of this, the show wasn’t quite as long as the usual ones, and did not feature the full cast. Instead of having both full crews of Black Sheep and The Amsterdam Alliterates perform, about 5 or 6 performers from each group performed all at once.

            This was the first improv comedy show that I had ever been to, and I was impressed. I am a stand-up comedian and an actor on the Athens Video Work show “Fridays Live”, so I’m fairly comfortable on a stage or in front of a camera. However, I could never see myself performing improv comedy. I like to write my material out word for word, and I rarely improvise during my sets. On “Fridays Live” we are encouraged to improvise, but again I try to memorize my lines. I guess I’m not as comfortable being funny on the spot, which is all improv comedy is. I think it takes a quick wit and, perhaps more importantly, a good amount of courage to get on stage in front of a crowd and try to be funny off of the top of your head. Another thing that makes it more difficult is the fact that you have to play off of the other person/people doing the sketch with you. While I assume this could make it a bit easier sometimes, it seemed to make it more difficult a great deal more. It seemed like there were a couple of times that one of the performers wanted to take the bit in one way, but the other person takes it in a different direction. In improv, there’s really no way to communicate with the other person to tell them what you want to do. Also, if your partner says something different, you have to follow their lead, no matter what.

            It was easy to tell that this was a college improv comedy show, and not a professionally done show. I’ve never seen a professional show live, but I was a big fan of Drew Carey’s “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” growing up, so I know what a professional improv show looks like. I do not know if it was simply a matter of TV editing, but there seemed to be a lot less moments between laughs on Whose Line than there were at the show. There were also quite a few jokes at this show that did not land, although I think that was more a matter of the performers being more well-versed in pop culture than the average audience member.

            Overall, I really enjoyed the OU Improv show. It definitely had its ups and downs laugh-wise, but it was entertaining throughout. It piqued my interest in improv comedy and I think I might try to see a professional show if one ever comes near Athens or Cincinnati.

Filed under improv black sheep OU comedy