Long-Form Improv

I only recently discovered the world of improv comedy and I love it. In February, one of my roommates invited me to go to the Minnesota Long-Form Improv Showcase here on campus. I decided to attend without any expectations. I am so glad I was able to attend because it was hilarious. It was such a great show that I also attended the one in March and am going to attend their future monthly shows as well.

I found their ability to improvise rather interesting. At first, I doubted the idea that they were improvising. I thought to myself that they planned certain skits and just incorporated the audience suggestions into the rehearsed skits. The skits were still extremely funny, but I just doubted their ability to improvise. I was so wrong. After attending the show a second time, I realized how talented some of the people are at improvising. There were a few skits that were somewhat cringy and caused hesitant laughter throughout the audience. Other skits were so hilariously random that it was made clear to me that they were improvising.

It was also interesting to see how the different groups worked together differently. Some of the groups seemed to work better together by creating extravagant scenes with a lot of action involved. Other groups seemed to be better at working with small, dialogue heavy scenes. Both approaches seemed to work very well.

Another thing that I was intrigued by was the fact that skits seemed to be funny proportional to how random and unexpected the scenes were. There were some points during the skits that the audience was silent for long periods of time. It was kind of awkward and hard to sit through. Then the skit would take a 180 degree turn and the audience would erupt in laughter. I think this could maybe be tied to the incongruity theory of laughter. Something so unexpected happened, causing laughter throughout the audience.

Finally, I noticed during the two shows I attended that each scene is ended when one of the members runs in front of the scene. The scenes always seemed to end at random times (not following any time limits, ending dialogue, awkward silences, etc.). Sometimes a scene would end when it seemed to be going in a comical direction. I guess I’m wondering how the performers decide when to end each scene. Does one person just decide that the current scene needs to end and a new scene should begin? Or do they come up with a plan on how to switch between scenes?

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