Little Theater, Big Laughs

Phuc Pham | New University

Darkness. Laughter. Screaming. On any other ordinary Friday night, these elements would sound like a horror scene. But at UC Irvine’s Little Theatre, it was the Improv Revolution’s Halloween-themed second show of the school year.

As I tried to make sense of the inexplicable occurrence of darkness in a little theatre filled with forty people, I heard joyful voices coming from the stage, singing random comical songs. As I sat in the back row, the room’s darkness built up the expectation of being scared out of my wits by an awaiting individual from either side of the room.  Applause, as well as the lights, welcomed Improv Revolution to the audience as I was finally relieved to see the group members’ faces, already so filled with excitement and energy.

Improv Revolution is an improvisational comedy group that consists of ten auditioned UCI students who perform biweekly improv shows on campus as well as other competitions throughout the country.

Once each team member introduced him or herself, the games began. By the curious expressions on certain people in the audience, I could immediately tell they were wondering how this Halloween show was going to play out: more trick or more treat. The first game of the night made it instantly clear that the show was not about scaring the audience, but rather entertaining them.

Andra Whipple, co-captain of Improv Revolution, introduced the first half of short form improv games that seemed to incorporate mild horror, “violent” murder and cruel behavior. Games such as Dark and Stormy Night and Evil Twin used the creepy elements of mysterious deaths and disgusting vomit-throwing meant to frighten and repulse viewers and turned them into pure comical surprise. The audience added to the energetic vibe of the show as they loudly blurted out random wacky suggestions to add to their characters’ stories, creating a shift from disturbing material to silly humor.

Shouting out a name of a film noir called “Dane and Derringers” led to the idea for Scene Noir, a game where three members play out a scene as two male detectives and one woman who try to figure out the logistics of their love triangle on a Sunday afternoon — the type of Sunday “that makes you think when you go into Monday, you want Chelsea to be in the bedroom.”

The sound of smooth, seductive jazz played in the background as the three questioned their romantic relationship to one another, with the male detective not wanting to rely information on whom he was attracted to, leaving the two to speculate for answers. The scene ended hilariously with pants-wetting, dog-like mannerisms, and the male detective suggesting a ménage-a-trois.

After a 10-minute intermission and quick fundraising for Improv Revolution’s chance to compete in Chicago, the second half of long form improv games began.

This narrative-like performance is a signature move for Improv Revolution and makes them stand out from the other improv comedy group on campus, Live Nude People. The long-form narrative rung in consistent hilarity in depicting a truly memorable plot of two lonely college students who fight to get the attention of their attractive neighbor, who tries throughout the narrative to explain to his son, who accidently gets “ruthied” by a bad batch of Halloween candy, that he is divorcing his mother.

Ending the night with clever puns, Improv Revolution proved to be more than just capable of drawing laughs, also providing a recollection of humorous moments that were good enough to distract me from my fears of taking that creepy walk through Aldrich Park alone — that’s a great accomplishment in my book.