Jenni Cochran, Alec Volz, Brian Hinds & Chris Anger. Photo – The Louisville Improvisors.
The Louisville Improvisers at the SLANT Culture Theatre Festival
Reviewed by Keith Waits
Entire contents are copyright © 2013, Keith Waits. All rights reserved.
Most improvisational comedy groups use games to structure their shows, and The Louisville Improvisors are no exception. Yet at last year’s SLANT Festival they used a clever gimmick to put a fresh spin on their work, taking their cues from the text of a local author to spur an extended improv that lasted close to an hour. This year they are again playing with longer form improv, using the foundation premise of being co-workers in a company drawn from audience suggestion. They trade sales calls, take breaks together – even the curtain speech is presented in the context of staff meeting boilerplate.
It may not be quite as inventive as last year, but it still works well enough as a challenge to keep the ball in the air. Part of the fun of watching good improv comedy comes from the tension created from uncertainty. How long can the team keep an idea going before it begins to deflate? How do they transition smoothly to the next story? The truth is, sometimes they don’t, and the slight fumbles and non-sequiters that result are often the funniest bits. Perhaps seeing the stained arm pits of desperation is the secret joy for improv audiences.
The other pleasure is seeing the performers bring ideas full circle over the course of 45 or so minutes. I have watched improv shows continue for as long as three hours, but always broken up into smaller segments of no more than 20 minutes at a time. The practitioners in the current Louisville Improvisors line-up (Chris Anger, Jenni Cochran, Brian Hinds and Alec Volz) are an adept team that know how to keep the energy from flagging and take cues from each other with fluid skill.
It’s a sure bet you will identify with the workplace circumstances and even a good deal of the silliness that reigns onstage during this performance. Just don’t try this in your own job. These are trained professionals, folks.
November 15 at 10:00pm
November 17 at 7:00pm
November 22 at 9:00pm
November 23 at 5:00pm
The Louisville Improvisers
Part of The SLANT Culture Theater Festival
Nancy Niles Sexton Stage at Walden Theatre
1123 Payne Street
Louisville, KY 40206