The Holidays – they’re supposed to be a time of merry-making, gift-giving, and general gratitude.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, and the prospect of spending somewhere around $850 dollars, the exhausting rounds of back-to-back holiday parties for weekends on end, and on top of that the shortest days of the year might cause some people to sink into the doldrums.
Cheer Up! The Cape Ann Improv Comedy Group is the remedy the doctor prescribed for YOU!
The Cape Ann Improv troupe is a fabulously funny group of post-grads who teach Improv to adults and children at The Hive in Gloucester. They also perform pretty regularly at the same venue with as much dignity as an improv group can muster.
We had the pleasure of interviewing the group and asking them some great questions about their influences, balancing work and fun, and their thoughts on Improv. If you’re looking for something fun to do before Christmas, they have an upcoming show on December 15th. And be sure to check out their facebook page!
Read the Interview Below. (It’s funny. Of Course.)
How did you decide to start doing Improv? and, the other obvious question – how did you pick your name?
Most of us met each other as a part of the Sweaty Toothed Madmen, Gordon College’s comedy improv troupe. All of us are Gordon alumni. Originally we chose the name Oddfellows because of a mysterious building near Zack’s apartment. Our new name is Cape Ann Improv! It’s more professional we think, and also says something about our dedication to the North Shore area.
Who (or What) are your inspirations and influences for Improv?
Our biggest inspirations are everyday people, and everyday situations that go unnoticed, but are hilarious. Also, we love tapping into the idea that often get left behind when people stop being “kids” and start being “adults.” We think adults are probably all robots. SPECIFIC people who have influenced us are the improv trifecta: Del Close, Keith Johnstone, Jill Bernard. Also, Colin Mochery, Tina Fey, Rachel Dratch, Monty Python, Christopher Guest, Amy Poehler, all the children of the world, our moms and dads and cats etc.
Being adaptable, resilient, finding humor in the mundane, being a better listener, being more observant of human behavior – these are all improv skills, and are SO helpful in any other work field. Betsy, Tyrel & I are social workers, Jon & Jeff work in a coffee shop, James does…you know, his own thing, Ben is about to become an insurance agent, Zack does research on people’s eyes (?), and Jack is Egyptian. Any of these things become a lot more easy when you have improv skills.
What is your favorite thing about improv? Least Favorite?
TOO MANY THINGS TO LOVE. The best thing I think we can all agree on is creating something out of nothing, a different something each performance, and doing that collaboratively with your best friends. Least favorite thing: It is so fleeting. You can never tell anyone what you did in a practice or in a performance later. They will not understand. Plus all the pictures come out really weird.
What is the difference between teaching improv to adults and teaching it to teens or children?
OMG KIDS HAVE SO MUCH MORE FUN. The younger the group you are teaching, the less constraints they have! They become vulnerable, and therefore funnier, easier than an adult whose had more time to be told that certain things are “acceptable” and “unacceptable.” Adults are a great challenge though. It’s great to take a group of people who are FREAKED OUT because they have to be vulnerable in front of others and giving them a chance to get the heck over it. For realz.
What is it like working with so many collaborators?
It’s really awesome getting to do our thing at a place like The Hive. David Brooks is incredible, and so supportive. We’re glad that he is there to support our work and take our rent. Wait, not that last part. Having a large group of improvisers is really good as well, and our group is very diverse. We all have a different sort of sense of humor, and we keep each other fresh. Also, we all have strong passions within the work of the group, so we are able to accomplish a wide variety of projects.
How do you prepare for Improv shows?
We have a very intense and holy set of “rites” that we follow before performances. We try and get at least 4 practices in before a performance. Betsy and Zack lead our practices, which are a mix of game playing and exercises that stretch our listening, character making, or other types of scene work. Right before a performance we do a lot of weirdo warm ups that would really disturb people if they were to see them. We gotta get all that awkward nervous energy out so that all the good drippings end up in the audience pan.