What does it take to be able to get the opportunity to once more watch Improguise Live? Well, a corporate doing some work on cybersecurity with its staff and realising the need to add in a whole lot of cyber-security-themed fun at the end, that’s what.

We got locked down [but we got up again…]

Ain’t never gonna keep us down. That’s right – Chumbawuba has got nothing on us and we in fact started doing some super creative online shows that have been happening via our Facebook page via Zoom every couple of weeks for the last few months.

Given that Improguise, Cape Town’s answer to the Whose Line Is It Anyway? squad of expert improvisers, is all about completely made up in-the-moment performance, even something as devastating and restrictive as an international pandemic and lockdown wasn’t going to keep us quiet for long. We were on Zoom calls having classes from early on and we soon figured out some ways to do online shows despite the fact that we were in multiple locations. Not our regular shows, but this actually gave us the freedom to experiment and create a number of new formats which are specifically catered to Zoom-type scenarios.

Whether it was a panel of experts or the relationships between a number of diverse and fascinating characters from a small made-up location or even our most recent endeavour which was called ‘Voices from the Grave’where we got to hear from a number of residents from a town who had all met their unfortunate demise during the same incident… we dived and dodged and imagined and created some beautiful and outrageously funny moments which had our audiences screaming for more.

Improguise Live

Improguise Live

So we have been having a whole lot of fun, but all of us jumped when we heard there was an opportunity to do a socially-distanced show for a group [which turned out to be more than 350 people] while performing as a team in this most beautiful space.

The setup with our banner that greeted us and these amazing neon green lights and the fabulous on-the-ball crew from Eastern Acoustics made us feel so at home as if it hadn’t been almost a year since we last performed.

This was also the first time most of us had seen each other in 2020 and so it was an excited reunion followed by a warmup and then the nervous energy as we were mic’ed up and confirmed the stage setup and made up a little song to get those vocal chords going. Also this was going to be a more traditional TheatreSports type show which is a lot closer to the ‘Whose Line is it Anyway’ show style and we had not done one of those for a little while. So very much raring to go.

i won’t lie – i was a little nervous about the show itself, and i think we all were. We knew there was something like a 10 second delay between us and the audience and yet we wanted to incorporate suggestions from them so that they would be without a doubt that this was being made up completely for them and that none of had any idea what might happen in the following hour. But with the excellent Tandi Buchan at the helm as MC and a great system which enabled us to see the comments on a large screen as they arrived and with much scrolling up and down as we searched for the best suggestions before each new game, it all  came together. i think the energy we all brought with us was so much that it felt like a live show and with the generous responses to games and moments in games being typed on the screen all the encouragement we needed was on flow. Peopl fell off chairs, there were tears and LOLs and repeated “cool cool cool”s and more. And at it’s smallest audience moment we were told that 354 people were on the call…

This was part of a briefing for a staff group from a big company on cybersecurity and so we had been given some fun terms like ‘phishing’ and ‘hacking’ and ‘smishing’ [no, surprisingly this is not simply the Russian name for Phishing] and ‘Multi-Factor-Authentification’ [which i managed to slip deftly into a beautiful duet with Alicia!] and more which we occasionally worked into our games in clever and often completely out-of-context unrelated ways.

And it was fun. For us. It really seemed to be fun for the audience and the six-person crew who were making all the magic happen around us, but we definitely had the very best of times. Megan and Calvin and Alicia and Godfrey on keyboard, Tandi on MC duty and myself. 

Improguise Live

Lost in Translation

It was really an all-round great show with every game just landing so well.

We began with a warm-up game called ‘Remote Control’ where each of the actors is given [from audience suggestions] a different tv channel and every time the MC clicks on to us we have to show what is currently happening on that channel.

Other games we played during the night included a made-up on-the-spot Duet with Alicia in which i managed to sneak the lady [who had just given the cyber-security talk]’s name in, Emotional Rollercoaster where actors play out a long scene and have to keep adjusting to the new emotion that the MC throws at them and Jonathan’s Lips which is likely the most difficult game we play in which we take the initials of one of the audience members and every time the one initial occurs [we went with S and F i think] it is replaced with the other one. So every F in the scene had to change to an S. It ends up being quite hilarious and ours was in the style of a soap opera set on the top of a mountain. [So quite the Clisshanger!]

But for me, this was also a chance to step back into my all-time favourite game which we have slightly repurposed and renamed as ‘Lost in Translation’ – this was a game which had been specifically requested from a previous viewing of it and which i learned from the incredibly talented Ashley Brownlee [whose legacy in TheatreSports lives on]

In this game we got a book title from the audience which i seem to remember was something along the lines of ‘The Case of the Flaming Dragon Snot’ and the news that the author had endured some computer difficulties while writing and then Calvin was interviewed by Megan and because no-one in the audience understood the language they were speaking, it was my job to interpret everything that was said into made-up gestures. [You can watch an intense musical version of a similar type game over here although i imagine this was likely premeditated and not in the moment].

Improguise Live

Who you gonna call?

All in all, the opportunity to have Improguise live again was a tremendous success and we cannot wait for the next time.

Which might be where you come in…

The studio and crew provided an excellent way for a top-notch show to be assembled in which safety was of paramount importance without removing too much of the vibe or creativity. And because it was being beamed into people’s houses they could watch together as families [as we heard many did] and there is no limit to the amount of people who can be given access.

2020 has been a super difficult year for so many people and what better way to let it know that it is not going to have the last laugh than by calling on us to provide a show for you and those you work with. Or even just those you love and would normally be gathering together with and having big end of year parties with. An Improguise lie show is a way where you can keep decent control on the safety and security of all present while providing them with a show that will only ever be seen by this particular audience. A way of having your end of year work function or Christmas party distanced but together as you perhaps gather in smaller groups but then join together in the group entertainment that we can provide.

In the meantime, you can follow us as Improguise: Players of TheatreSports on Facebook. Or else keep an eye on us on the Twitterer or Instagram as ImproguiseSA. To contact us to find out how you can have us perform for you at an end of year function, click here.

Hope to see you at next week’s online show as you discover what new and exciting format we are trying next and we will see you there in 5… 4… 3… 2… 1…