With the third night being on a Saturday, there was no rush to get to STAGEStheatre for the third and final night of the first annual OC Improv Festival. We ate at Don Carlos Mexican Restaurant a block down from the theatre, picked up some Starbucks, and then headed to the theatre. Once again we managed to snag front row seats.
The night began with two family-friendly sets starting with May Contain Nuts. I saw their Halloween improv show back in 2011, so it was nice to see a team I knew again. Honestly, I have no idea if any of the performers this time were the same I saw previously or not, so maybe that didn’t really matter anyways.
ImprovCity was second, and I actually was familiar with the performers. They were generally very funny, but certain parts were a little hit or miss. They normally perform Friday and Saturday evenings close to my house; I really need to see them more often as I enjoy their performances.
After the family-friendly hour, Dr. God Revival with Dave Holmes performed a double-length, hour-long set. They actually featured Dave Holmes! Okay, I honestly had no idea who he was, but he totally has a Wikipedia page, which makes him Officially Famous. My friend Stephanie pointed out that he was VJ on MTV. I assumed she didn’t mean my high school friend VJ so I quickly guessed a VJ is like a DJ but for music videos. MTV was definitely not in my TV rotation.
Anyways, I don’t intend to belittle Dave Holmes. I only knew him as the guy performing improv, and he did a great job. In fact, they did things a little differently, and I always appreciate an improv troupe that has something unique. Dr. God used a lot of monologues by Holmes supposedly based on his own life. He would perform a monologue for five minutes or so, and then the team would perform scenes loosely based on the monologue. I really enjoyed the monologues. I’d love too see an hour of just monologues. I realize lengthening a five minute idea to an hour might be a lot of work, but it’s seem conceivable that it could be done if a group of four or five took turns telling monologues, each person beginning when he or she had something to say related to the previous monologue.
After Dr. God was the The Reckoning. I don’t remember disliking them, but I don’t remember much of anything, and I didn’t any photos either. I jotted down that they performed longform. They were decent enough, but I don’t think they were great.
At 10:00, Ghostlight performed. The Spectacles webpage described them as “a blend of hilarious and spooky,” so I was really looking forward to seeing them. Honestly, they didn’t live up to my expectations. However, I feel like it might have been due to time constraints and the luck of the draw. I’d really like to see them again in a full show.
During their set, they asked the audience if anyone had ever had a supernatural encounter. One person said he had, and they asked him to come tell them about it. He eventually came down to talk, but it took him a while to do so. As he told the story, he seemed to stall a lot. I get the feeling he was joking when he raised his hand and didn’t mean to volunteer for it. I guess that’s fine, but it also ate into their short half hour allotted time.
“Strange religious harmony what”
I wrote that in my iPhone to describe USS Rock N Roll as soon as their set was finished. I don’t mean religious in the sense they were spoke about religion. It’s more than they seemed like a strange cult. They were either far more artsy than me or pretended to be for the laughs.
USS Rock N Roll performed longform scenes, but their transitions were very odd. Let’s say that in a scene, a person said “no, no, no.” Someone not involved in the scene would stick their arms and circle around the people in the scene as if a child pretending to be a plane. They’d repeat the word “no” as they did so, and everyone else would follow until there was a circle of people chanting. Some would say a different word related to the scene or the feelings of the last scene’s characters. Eventually they would all be chanting loudly together until breaking apart into a new scene. They had a couple other ways of transitioning as well, but this is the basic idea. It was the oddest improv I’d ever seen. That said, I really enjoyed it. They were also able to perform what was effectively multiple scenes at the same time. It was funny and very entertaining. (But again, what? Odd.)
Mission IMPROVable, from Santa Monica, was one of my favorite teams. I’m fairly certain they were a team of secret agents sent, in secret, to perform a comedy. They performed a lot of the staple improv games with high energy. I wish they didn’t normally perform so far from home, because I’d love to see them more.
The festival ended with Laugh Chance, another Spectacles-produced team. Laugh Chance decides what games to play randomly. They had three categories of games – A, B, and C. When it was time for a new game, Lloyd, the host, would pick a category and then get the audience to roll inflatable dice. The letter combined with the number of rolls determines the game based on a board. You can see it (through the terrible blur) in the picture. The games themselves weren’t different than games I’ve seen before, but I appreciate putting a different spin on the normal. It’s nice for an improv troupe to have something that makes them unique. They were funny, but strangely I’m fairly sure not everyone who came on stage with Laugh Chance actually performed. What the heck?
It was a terrific third night, but it felt weird for it to end. After three nights of non-stop improv (except for when they stopped at the end of the nights, of course), I felt like I was improv-crashing. On the other hand, I learned that using the magic of Starbucks I can actually stay up late, so I suppose the festival also taught me that I can always come back on Friday or Saturday nights for more improv!