Reviewed by Keith Waits
Entire contents are copyright © 2012, Keith Waits. All rights reserved.
In improvisational comedy, anything, in theory, is possible: even such a contradiction as a clown with no sense of humor. He appears in public at all times in full clown regalia, constantly frustrated at the inevitable expectation that he will be inherently funny, when he is, in fact, one of the most dour characters you will ever encounter. As an image, it connects to the archetype of the sad and bitter clown; and as embodied by Brian Hinds in service to The Louisville Improvisers on May 9, it was a highly individual creation born entirely in the moment.
Of course that is not strictly true. Improv actors train and “rehearse” their skills, albeit in a slightly different manner than traditional scripted theatre. But still they work out. They have to think fast and have their imaginations at the ready and their instincts sharpened and in tune with their onstage partners. And despite the obviousness of the previous observations, it is still a treat to witness the fluid dynamic in action.
Chris Anger and Alec Volz founded the company more than 13 years ago, making it the oldest working improv group in town. And when you see them onstage, there is no question of the easy shorthand that passes between them as naturally as breathing. There have been other members along the way, but the May show included recent additions Brian Hinds, who created the humorless clown, and Jenni Cochran. Mr. Hinds is a veteran of Kentucky Shakespeare, Stage One and, most recently, Walden Theatre, where Mr. Volz is Associate Artistic Director. Ms. Cochran comes to Louisville by way of St. Louis and, although relatively new to town, has already landed roles at The Alley Theatre, including the production of Gilligan’s island, The Musical that opened May 24. Both more than held their own working with the well-worn duo of Anger and Volz.
Aside from the aforementioned clown, the “games” that evening included the quartet trading positions, tag-team style, whenever one performer got a laugh from the appreciative audience. It seemed something less of a challenge, since the laughs came frequently enough to require the actors be fleet of foot to avoid tripping over one another, so rapid were the exchanges. By the time they finished with a freewheeling depiction of a day in the life of an audience member (selected, of course, at random), they had worked up a good energy with the crowd and wisely left them wanting more.
The Louisville Improvisers will be performing at The Louisville Improv club at Fourth Street Live! the first Wednesday of each month through the summer. The next show is June 6 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $15 with a 2-drink minimum.
The Louisville Improv
441 South Fourth Street
Louisville, KY 40202