Sometimes lying can be fun.
Last week i was part of two of the three shows that Improguise – Cape Town’s longest running show and Improv group – put on at the Alexander Bar. Both shows were the first time i had taken part in the specific format and one of the formats – On The Couch – was the first time Improguise had tried this brand new style of show.
And they were both great. So so so so so much fun.
For someone who holds Honesty as one of my closest values, spending an hour making stuff up and in a technical sense lying-on-the-spot is one of my favourite things to do. Someone asked me the other night if i had ever considered going into politics and i can’t help but feel the two are related.
One of the best compliments not compliments we can receive as Improv players is hearing that one of the guys walked down the stairs after our show on Saturday muttering “half of that stuff wasn’t made up”. Then having a conversation with friends who had watched the show who were convinced that the format had at least been planned because the scenes slid so effortlessly into each other [No and No].
It is the best compliment because people actually believe we have rehearsed the madness they have just seen on stage [Thursday’s show included a giant Pea calling all the other vegetables together to hold a protest against the fact that Cucumbers are used for beauty treatments and none of them, including that well known protest slogan “If you’re in a rut, you must be butternut!” Saturday had a scene in a rain drenched camping field where the cows in the neighbouring field were having more sex than the bickering couple on the stage. Seriously folks, this is not stuff we come up with in a team meeting before the event…]
But it is also an anti-compliment because people leave the show feeling tricked – the curse of being that darn good. And it really is that. First timers especially – if you have never been to an Improguise show then your typical response is likely to be “I can’t believe they made all of that up.”
On that note
If you really want to have your minds blown a little bit, then book a ticket for one of our next two shows – 18th and 19th August at the Galloway theatre near the Waterfront [Waterfront Drama school venue] because we will be MAKING SONGS UP ON THE SPOT. They likely – very likely – will not be U2 meets Mumford and Sons meets Queen lyrical masterpieces – and they very likely will be sung flat or somewhat flat or using keys that even make the piano sit up and go Wah? But there is a certain kind of What-The-Flipness to knowing that you are listening to a song where the music is being improvised as the words are being improvised and sometimes there is even rhyme and humour and story thrown in as an absolute bonus.
You will leave thinking it is impossible that that was just made up on the stage – even though the guy behind you was the moron that shouted out “Constipation Pants” when we asked for a song title [No, he is not a plant!] And ‘Constipation Pants’ we gave you! [Disclaimer: Please don’t come to any of our shows and shout out ‘Constipation Pants’ as a suggestion for anything we do – you will regret the words i can make rhyme with diarrhoea]
The shows that were
But this past week i was reminded just how much fun Improv can be – smaller casts meant more stage time and more focus on working with everyone to make a bunch of separate scenes feel like one connected show and my friend’s comment on the Saturday showed that we did pretty well at that.
Thursday’s show was called ‘The Chair’ and guest monologuer Nicholas Spagnoletti [a former Improguise member and owner of the Alexander Bar where we performed] was given word suggestions from the audience – he chose ‘beautification’ and ‘cucumber’ and spoke whatever came to his mind that involved those words which was a story of beer-making monks who love a bit of a facial on the side.
Our job was to then spend the rest of the show being inspired by words, phrases and ideas that he had spoken about to create a series of scenes. Megan Furniss, Tandi Buchan, Leon Clingman, Ryan Jales, Anne Hirsch and myself [with Jaco Griessel improvising excellently on the keyboards, yes two of them!] were the actors on stage and our audiences were delightful all three nights.
On Saturday we performed ‘On The Couch’ with a beautiful couch centre stage and the mandate was to explore what it means to be human with the couch featuring [or not] in the various scenes. For this show it was just Megan, Leon, Ryan and myself.
And between Thursday and Saturday, among other things i managed to find myself as that Giant Pea at the vegetable protest, a cliff-edge poetry workshop leader, a guy whose arms had been bitten off by werewolves [and with a bit of a gammy leg], a first time counsellee on a counsellor’s couch who refused to do any counselling, a Latin-sprouting monk-type alien and even a guy whose arms had been bitten off by werewolves who was not meant to be in this particular scene [and was escorted off the stage] and lots lots more.
You can not make that stuff up. Oh wait, but we did. And we do. It is what we do and i have been doing it more on than off since 1999 and so if you live in Cape Town and haven’t seen us there really is no excuse.
We are going to be at the Galloway Theatre in just over ten days and we are likely to be all sorts of great again, so much so that you might be the one leaving, muttering to yourself, “There is no way that was made up!” And yet it will have been. All of it.
For more on the Who, What and How of Improguise, take a look at our website and ask how you can get us to your next corporate event or end of year Christmas function…