As a sarcastic individual who is a huge fan of comedy, I looked forward to attending today’s improv show at the 2017 St Lou Fringe Festival. Compass Improv did not disappoint. The venue at the Kranzberg Arts Center was a simple one. The lack of fancy seating and staging did not detract from the energy of the audience and performers. The enthusiasm was catching and I soon found myself swept along in the excitement of what was to come.
The start of the show was more long form improv. I got a bit lost at one point in the plot but thought the overall performance went well. If you are unfamiliar with improv, keep in mind that the plot, characters, and dialogue are all unscripted. Couple that with the fact that you are watching this live and the tense anticipation to have everything go well is certainly a part of this unique experience.
The second half of the show featured short form improv and games that were heavy on audience participation. This part was my favorite. There was the Emotional Rollercoaster where the performers acted out the same topic but with different emotions that were randomly assigned to them. The audience got to throw out suggestions for the performers to incorporate. If you think the audience participation portion is staged, think again. I was right there among the rest, lending my ideas to the show and excited have a hand in making a memorial performance.
Next up was Shift Left, Shift Right where four performers stood in a two by two box form and shifted either left or right and acted out either a place, relationship, mood, or object. The Compass Improv group did a fantastic job sticking to the varying storylines each time they shifted left or right. I felt this alone showcased the true talent it takes to not only excel at improv comedy but to stay in character with each change and keep the storyline fluid and cohesive.
The show ended with the Joke Round. Again, audience participation made things interesting but the Compass Improv group took it all in stride. If you want to know how to relate spoons, hangers, maps, and other random objects to one common joke theme, come check out one of the remaining two Fringe Fest performances or check them out during the Improv Festival this upcoming October 19-21. Your experience won’t be the exact same as the one I witnessed today, but, then again, that is the beauty of improv.