The comedy series Whose Line Is It Anyway? has familiarized American and British TV viewers with improvisational theater over the years. For an in-person experience, you can find equally quick wits and responses at improv shows in Oklahoma’s largest cities.
Usually, the TV show is driven by a suggestion. For example:
“What’s really going through the president’s mind during cabinet meetings?”
“‘There isn’t even a cabinet in here.’”
And the made-up, on-the-spot quips follow in rapid succession.
Improvisation is the art of theatrical comedy, says Jason Watts, artistic director of Rabbit Hole Improv in Tulsa.
“We like to create things that make us laugh off the top of our heads,” he says.
Improv, most often comedic, is mostly unplanned or unscripted, and created spontaneously by the performers. In their purest forms, the dialogue, action, story and characters are created collaboratively by the players as the improvisation unfolds onstage.
“OKC has groups that are devoted to improv games, scenes and sketch comedy,” says Sue Ellen Reiman, managing director at OKC Improv, a 10-year-old group.
Rabbit Hole Improv and OKC Improv have public shows, classes and workshops. Businesses can also set up team-building experiences. Prices vary for each event.
Most weekends, you can just sit back, relax and see what troupes do best: make people laugh.
“There are 30-50 troupes at any one time who submit for our shows,” says Reiman. “Troupes are formed by people who have a common interest.”
For example, one troupe only has performers over age 50, while another one comprises only veterans, she says. The groups come and go and reform constantly. Anyone can participate.
“The age range is wide,” says Watts. “While it may skew a little to the younger – 20s and 30s – we have people in their 70s taking classes and performing. We [have] youth programming in the works.”
The best way to get involved is to take an introductory class or workshop. From there, you meet others and play some games. While some pursue improv comedy as a profession, most enjoy it as a hobby – a great way to be social and play.
“Improv fosters community, as many social activities do, through sharing trust and laughs,” says Watts. “The structured play allows for many to explore ideas and express themselves, to make connection, and, at the end of the day, it really is all about the laughs.”
To learn more, go to okcimprov.com or rabbitholeimprov.com.