When a group of performers do improv, the most important factor for a successful scene is listening and having chemistry with other performers. In a situation where a new performer enters a group or a new group of strangers is assembled, it can be difficult to be cohesive. In order to support a fellow performer on stage, an improvisor has to have a basic idea of where they’re coming from and/or what they’re thinking. That’s what made this show so refreshing.
With the departure of Jonas McLean, KO Improv has recruited local improviser Paul Drotos to join their team and on February 17 at Mahtay Café, they had their first show together.
“Almost 100 per cent of improv is who you’re with. I’d behave differently if I was in university as opposed to in KO,” said Drotos. “I know that Colin responds to certain stimuli, I know that Jamie responds to certain stimuli. Even though the attitude is ‘don’t think just do’, there’s a small amount of thinking in the moment that goes with it because you need to be aware of what’s on stage, which includes the other people.” It was clear in the performance that they knew each other beforehand as they had brilliant chemistry. It was the seamless integration of the new member that made this show so special.
The show consisted of three short form games in the first half ranging from three to five minutes and one long form scene for the second half. The first game was Go, a classic improv game in which five performers do six individual unrelated scenes based on one suggestion. For each scene, there is a pair of performers performing with its own plot and characters. When an outside party calls “GO!”, the performers rotate with a new set of characters in a completely different situation, making six individual scenes altogether. This rotation continues for as long as the game goes, and when a specific set of performers finds themselves together again, their last scene together continues under the assumption that time has passed. This is always a crowd-pleaser and it was a great, high-energy game to start the show with.
The second game was Secrets, an uncommon game but one that worked out well in the context. In this game, the performers would perform a normal scene, but beforehand all of them except one would leave the room. He would then ask the audience for a secret or a quirk that the other performers wouldn’t be aware of. For example, their secret could be that they don’t have knees or they’re in love with another character. This performer would leave the room and another performer would enter and do the same thing. This would repeat until every performer had a quirk and they would begin the scene as usual though each player would have no context for each other’s personality. The irony of this scene was very effective and the knowledge the audience had of each quirk made for some hilarious misunderstandings.
The last game in the first half was Eat It. This was the most dangerous game played that night and it was highly successful and funny throughout.
The game is just like any other scene, except there is a selection of food on the stage. The goal of this scene is that the food must be eaten by any means necessary. It sounds simple but you’d be surprised about how important the catalyst of the food is in pushing the scene forward and for the improvisors getting into uncomfortable situations. “We’ve played some games tonight, particularly Eat It, that we’ve never played before and so that was just a nice experiment,” says Colin Glavac “I think the crowd had a really good time and that’s thing that we strive the most for is to please the audience.” This kind of fly-off-the-seat-of-your-pants energy added to the show gave it a sense of urgency that is complementary to improv.
After a short intermission, they did what is called a Harold. A Harold is a complex, carefully constructed (but still improvised) long form scene that can go 10 minutes or more. It’s not uncommon to see a 40 minute scene and KOs lasted for almost an hour (the entire second half the show).
All in all, this was an excellent night of improv and one should definitely see some of their shows in the future. They will be performing again at Mahtay Café on March 25 and at Thinkspace in Thorold on March 5.
If you would like to join KO Improv, email your improvisational experience, your schedule and little about yourself as well as why you would be a key player in KO Improv to
-Luke Webster, Assistant Arts & Culture Editor