“That’s a lie! Baby koalas can’t afford to eat from their mom’s butt hole anymore!” If you were walking near 3rd and Madison last Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., you may have heard this proclamation on the wind. The assertion is ruled true by the judge, and a nonstop rant about the instability of the koala food market begins. Thirty seconds later, the filibuster is about politicians playing that old childhood game, MASH. Not long after that, children pilfering bottles from the liquor cabinet is the topic. For the members of Open Source Improv, this is a typical Tuesday evening.
Most people’s exposure to improvisational comedy begins and ends with the show Whose Line is it Anyway? but it doesn’t have to be that way. Take a trip down to Cloud & Kelly’s at 9 p.m. on the first Thursday of the month and you’ll be in for a treat. Open Source Improv’s monthly show is the culmination of their weekly practice. And, as the name implies, both their shows and their rehearsals are open to all. “Anybody can walk through the door and we’ll find a place for them,” said Valerie Boggs. She’s a mother, a teacher, a member of Open Source Improv, and she’s wearing a shirt depicting a cat with lasers shooting out of its eyes. “We want community involvement!”
It’s true, I went to the Tuesday practice with the intention of observing and interviewing. I ended up participating in at least three short-form improvisation games. It was a blast. Not only that, but there was no pressure. If you have even a passing interest in doing improv, you owe it to yourself to go. Participation is never mandatory, and if you only feel comfortable sitting and watching, that’s fine. “You can come here and know nothing about improv and still have a good time,” said Open Source Improv member Jess Kankovsky.
The rehearsals are by no means a comedy boot camp. This isn’t one of those three-week intensives that culminate in a class performance. You can learn at your own pace, and take part in the monthly shows when you’re ready. And there is plenty of learning to be found. After every game, just like the ones you may have seen on Whose Line, the group will take a minute to discuss what worked, what didn’t, and where improvements could be made. Criticism isn’t given when it isn’t asked for, and it generally had the feel of a productive college workshop, except with laughter. And even though it is literally all fun and games, there’s growth involved that will remain long after the show is over. “Skills you learn here can apply to your daily life. Like [in] an interview, or just in conversation,” said Open Source Improv member Anissa Teslow Cheek. There really is no limit to the benefit of a quick wit.
So go see a show, and if it tickles your fancy go to the rehearsals. You could be up on that stage with them in time. All the information regarding times of shows and rehearsals can be found on the group’s Facebook page. They accept all friend requests and answer all questions. Nobody is too old, too inexperienced, or too quirky for improv.
By Kyle Bunnell