Improv Jam Humors Audience with Mortician, Frogs


(photo from Theatre Ink)

Emma Brignall

From the improvised skits to the actual jars of jam they handed out, Improv Jam brought joy and laughter to its audience. Directed by senior Sam Melville and junior Ella Reid, the show ran Feb. 17 at 7:00 p.m. in the Little Theatre.


During Improv Jam, audience members call out suggestions, usually a “non-geographical location” such as a tanning salon or a bathtub, which the cast have to transform into a skit. The show was structured as a series of games, each one including several small skits. Cast members could not prepare for the skits, so their only preparation was playing these games in weekly Improv Club meetings. From there, they had to put these skills to use with whatever ideas the audience threw at them.


“Sometimes the audience says really weird things, so it’s kind of weird inspiration, but I also really like it at the same time,” said freshman Adrian Kalish-Demaris, a cast member.


One memorable scene called upon the audience to suggest three professions. One person called out “mortician,” which two people then had to make a scene out of. The result was one actor approaching another, offering “morts,” while the audience cracked up.


“I had no idea what a mortician was,” said Kalish-Demaris, who acted in that scene. “After the show I’m talking to my mom and I’m like, ‘What’s a mortician?’ and she says it to me and I’m like, ‘that is hilarious.’”


Freshman Anna Sulewski, a cast member, said that was one of her favorite scenes. “I thought the ‘mort’ part was really funny. Because I think they didn’t know what a — whatever that word was — so I think it’s cool the way the actors took it and just turned it into something totally different. That just made it funnier.”


The cast took each idea in stride, with scenes ranging from two frogs in a pet store to a human trying to convince an alien to let her into a spaceship. Sometimes they even had to replay the same scene at a faster pace, or, in one case, in the genre of a silent film.


“It’s a little nerve-wracking because you never know what they’re going to throw at you and there’s not a guarantee you’re going to know what they’re talking about,” said Sulewski. “I guess that’s what makes it improv, because you never know what to expect. You just have to take it and go with it.”


The experiences weren’t limited to the cast, though. In one game, two cast members started out in a scene, but the moment someone from the cast or audience called out “freeze,” that person could take the place of an actor and start a new scene. Multiple audience members stepped onto the stage in this activity, receiving wide applause for their bravery. 


“You can take a lot of risks and get away with it,” said Kalish-Demaris. “You just kind of do it and you see how it turns out.”