UCI Strips for Students With a ‘Live Nudes’ Performance

A crowd, two-hundred-people strong, stands in eager anticipation. Many of them are in their pajamas; some of them are drunk. They are not part of some type of defunct slumber party, but are actually fans awaiting improvisational comedy.
This was the scene at Live Nude People’s first show of the quarter. The title suggests a strip club, but Live Nude People is an independent, improvisational comedy troupe run by UC Irvine students. Started 12 years ago by graduate students, it has since developed a loyal following of fans.
The Live Nude cast includes 12 people ranging from first- to fifth-year students. Three captains manage three separate teams, two of which face-off as the third hosts the battle. Each show is given a theme that fans can dress up and be let in early to nab a seat in the quickly filling theatre. Themes in the past have included slumber party, superheroes and Armageddon. Each team has a premise that is incorporated into an opening sketch that starts the show. These introductions have included everything from an underwater mafia to bad teen dramas.
After the opening sketches, the two teams play a series of games until the night is over, and the crowd chooses a winner with the help of a large spoon. One can only fully understand ‘paying homage to the spoon’ by attending a Live Nudes show, but essentially an audience member is chosen at the beginning of each performance to measure the amount of applause for each team.
The cast of Live Nude People changes every quarter with new auditions; only the captains remain the same. The captains are Negin Singh, William Brode and Zach Reino. Singh explained that constant recasting ‘ensures that fresh faces are on the team each quarter. Seeing who’s on the team is one of the reasons people come.’ The quarter ends with an original show called ‘Quarter in Review,’ a piece written by Live Nude cast members that spoofs UCI’s productions.
‘The purpose isn’t to make people feel bad, it’s to parody the drama program and remind people we do this kind of stuff for fun,’ Reino said. This parody includes impressions of UCI faculty and fellow students.
The reasons for participating vary from person to person on the team. Some, like Reino, enjoy the liberation and uncertainty. ‘Anything can happen, it’s terrifying but it keeps you on your toes,’ Singh said. Among Singh’s many reasons, she recalled, ‘I remember seeing shows as a [high school student] and was in complete awe.’
The time for auditions has already passed, but Live Nudes has plenty of shows left in the quarter. The next show is Nov. 2 in the Studio Theatre and features Team Ninja Turtles against Team Penguins hosted by Team Sesame Street. This time the theme will be candy for a Halloween show, so audience members are encouraged to dress in costumes. For more information, join Live Nudes’ Facebook group to receive messages about upcoming shows and auditions.