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Improv Show 5 February 2011

The next Improvisational Comedy Show will be performed by Tater Totz!

Date: Saturday February 5, 2011

Time: 8:00 pm until about 9:30 pm

Location: Jefferson Hall, 1525 Santa Barbara Street (near Anapamu)

Price: $5 at the door

Improv Show 8 January 2011

The next Improvisational Comedy Show will be performed by Tater Totz!

Date: Saturday January 8, 2011

Time: 8:00 pm until about 9:30 pm

Location: Jefferson Hall, 1525 Santa Barbara Street (near Anapamu)

Price: $5 at the door

Improv Show May 2, 2009

Show, May 2, 2009 The next Improvisational Comedy Show from the Santa Barbara Improv Workshop will be:

Date: Saturday May 2nd, 2009

Time: 8:00 pm until about 9:30 pm

Location: Jefferson Hall, 1525 Santa Barbara Street (near Anapamu)

Price: $5 at the door

Vetura Area Theatersports Events

VATS and the Livery Theatre are hosting an August Improv Festival with special shows throughout the month. Although several of their shows have already passed, there are still more to come. The shows scheduled on the next two Saturdays are by visiting troupes. On August 18, the Unscripted Rep, featuring members of LA Theatresports and Impro Theatre, are performing. I've seen these performers put on an Unscripted Tennessee Williams performance and it was amazing.

And on August 25 the Cartoon Overload (also from LA) will be performing. I'm really intrigued by the description of the show and plan on attending.

From their announcement:

Saturday, August 18 Format: UnScripted Unscripted No script, no author and no clue. The players get the suggestion of a style of theatre or film (from you, the audience) and makes it up on the spot. Come and be as surprised as they will be!

Saturday, August 25 Format: Cartoon Overlord, Cartoons Created Before Your Eyes! Cartoon Overlord is a revolutionary new show in which cartoons are drawn, animated, voiced and CREATED BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES. Impossible you say? Come and see! Created by Joseph Limbaugh. <Cartoon Overlord website>

LABOR DAY WEEKEND: We'll bring you special shows on Friday and Saturday night, including the debut of our new, Steamy Southern Soap Opera! Details TBA.


A Night of Stand Up Comedy

comedy-ojai.GIFJustin Testa from the Wednesday night class is one of the performers in a Stand Up Comedy Show of graduates from the Ojai Comedy Workshop. In case the scan of the poster isn't completely legible, here are the particulars: Friday February 23rd and Saturday February 24, 2007

Starting time is 8:00 pm

It will be at Theater 150 in Ojai

$10 admission also gets you a beverage

Call for reservations and tickets at 646-4300

Santa Maria's Mission Improvable

I was just directed to a Santa Maria improv group named Mission Improvable by someone from work (thanks Rick). I recognize some of the players in the group from John Kinde's days running the Theatresports franchise up there, including Jeanne Sparks who was always a political oasis for me. Several of us from the Santa Barbara Improv Workshop used to travel up and perform with John's group. They always had large and enthusiastic crowds, and we had a good time performing with their players. Michael Passarelli is the director of this group, and according to an article in the Santa Maria Times, he's also the director of a San Luis Obispo based improv group. I'll try and get more info on that for another post.

In the meantime, Mission Improvable is performing regularly on the 2nd Friday of each month, with shows posted for the following dates: October 13, November 10, and December 8. They perform at the Accoustic Lounge, which is located upstairs in the Santa Maria Town Center East. That's the S.E. corner of Broadway and Main Street (Google Map).

They also teach a class on Monday nights from 5:30 to 7:00 pm at the same location.

REVIEW: Rumble in the Comedy Jungle, Night 3

Whew! The last night of Ventura Area Theatresports (VATS) Laughingstock 3: Rumble in the Comedy Jungle was a full on, short form extravaganza, and they went out with a very successful bang. They started the same as every night with a Free-For-All. Jim, Mike, Patrick, and I all participated in that first performance, along with players from VATS and Chimps (the Chadwick Improvisors). I think we all had a good time, and I really enjoy the challenge of working with other improvisers.

Then it was a Micetro knockdown. There were a total of 3 shows, in an elimination match to determine the Master of the Universe. At least in Improv. And maybe just in our region. And pretty much just Theatresports folks. But still, it was damn good improv, and really funny.

There's a better descriptions of the Micetro here, but briefly the idea is a large group of players compete by performing scenes in small groups chosen randomly. Each piece is assigned points by the audience, and all players in that piece are awarded those points. At the end of a match, the top point winners move on the next round.

The first two Micetro shows of the night were preliminaries with 12 to 13 players in each match. The players came from VATS, Chimps, Rapid Fire Theatre (the Edmonton guys), and LATS (LA Theatresports). The top 6 from each met in the final match, with some alterations made to accommodate some of the guests. It was a lot of short form improv, and I was pretty tired by the end, but to their credit, that last show just got funnier.

At the end, there was a multi-way tie, and frankly I don't remember who won what. It really didn't matter, since it was the end of the festival, and they didn't even bother with any sort of a tie-breaker. They invited all the performers from the entire weekend up on stage for a final thank you, and it was all applause and appreciation. VATS was a great host, and Tom Mueller and Judy Gottlieb deserve a lot of credit. Thank you both.

Actually, I'd like to thank several of the folks from the VATS group who were very welcoming and helped put on a great show: Tom and Judy I mentioned before; George Morgan, the piano player who added mood to every piece and made each musical number sound like real show tune; Gary Best who MC'd many of the shows; Katherine Boring and Jim Kasmir who directed Sunday's Free-For-All; and a general thank you to so many of the VATS members who would check in to be sure we had whatever we needed or just to make us feel welcomed.

REVIEW: Rumble in the Comedy Jungle, Night 2

Wow. Some amazing long form improv on the second night of the Ventura Area Theatresports (VATS) Laughingstock 3: Rumble in the Comedy Jungle. I've got some pictures, so let's get right to it. First, there was a workshop put on in the afternoon that I missed, but a couple of players from Santa Barbara attended. It was taught by Dan O'Conner from the LA Theatresports (LATS) group, and both Andy and Patrick reported that it was terrific.

The first show of the evening started at 5:00 and I missed that, also. It was a performance by Straight Up, a youth improv group from Ventura County.

img_1187.jpgI did get there in time for the 6:00 show, which was a Free-For-All consisting of VATS players, some performers from Chimps (the Chadwick Improvisers from Palos Verdes CA), the Rapid Fire Theatre (from Edmonton Canada), and maybe some LA folks. It was a pretty big group (13 players) so I don't quite remember them all. I didn't start taking pictures until it was almost done, so I don't have a good group shot. I do like this shot, which is one of the players from VATS and one of the Edmonton guys (Okay, tonight I'm getting a program and recording everyone's name).

img_1189.jpgNext came the first long form of the evening, titled a Quirky English Comedy. One of the LATS groups put it on, and I enjoyed it. I know it got mixed reviews because it wasn't laugh-a-minute funny. But, it was touching at times, and I enjoyed the characters. I especially liked a couple of scenes where one player had to portray two different characters in the scene at the same time. Everyone supported the technique and I think it played well.

img_1199.jpgNext was a brilliant Operetta put on by VATS along with Tristan from San Diego (as the itinerant podiatrist). This was another long form, where all the dialog was sung in that very distinctive operetta style (think Gilbert and Sullivan). This was funny all the way through and the singing was just so darn impressive!

img_1208.jpgNext up was the most impressive show of the evening and was performed by LATS. I've got several pictures from that one piece, and so I'll spend a bit more time rambling on about it.

They started with an extended warm-up that by itself could have been their entire show, and still have been one of the best of the night. It was called My Movie, and consisted of a series of movie titles and pitches made up on the spot. Any pitch that sounded interesting then had a scene performed. It was a high energy piece that they performed for about 20 minutes. Wonderful.

img_1220.jpgThen came their long form performance piece, which was a Tennessee Williams play. I believe their starters from the audience were puberty and wedding. The performance was amazing! A full range of characters, most were important to the plot and really compelling. The main plot was straight forward, but the secondary plots were very well constructed, added nicely to the texture of the characters, and each was beautifully tied up by the end.

img_1223.jpgAnd this was clearly a Tennessee Williams play. There was the young, naive summer gardener raising money for his coming marriage and who somehow never wore a shirt while in the garden; the man of the house (a dentist) who always had a drink in his hand and had a couple of hidden secrets; his wife (named Frustration) who had bouts of 'sickness' when reminded of her dead daughter (who was named Opportunity, and yes, she did knock at one critical plot point) and who lusted after the young worker; the younger (not dead) daughter (Honesty) who also lusted after the young worker but was convinced by her mother that she wasn't pretty (and who never seemed to be wearing pants); the sheriff looking into the dark secrets of the dentist and his 'tutoring'; 'Big Daddy' who was the patriarch of the family; and the local politician who wanted the wife as his own. There was also a soda jerk who was less involved, but did bring in a few key plot elements.

I can't speak highly enough about this piece. In my mind, it's what long form strives to be. Interesting, funny, rich, touching, and memorable. This was a gem in what still would have been a great night. An extra treat.

img_1234.jpgAnd of course, it didn't end there. Next was an Improv Jam, and it was pretty fun. Players from VATS, Edmonton, LATS, and San Diego put on a series of short form pieces that had some really fine moments. This picture came from a scene where two girlfriends were in a bathroom comforting a young woman at their prom after her date had said a few inappropriate things. A great scene.

Finally, the last show of the evening was Jimmy Mooks, a trio of players from VATS that put on a short form show where there are no holds barred. At this point I was pretty tired, so after only seeing a few games, I left for the night.

Okay, that's more than enough for now. One more night tonight, which I recommend you get out to see. A few of us from Santa Barbara will join in the Free-For-All at 6:00. Get out there!

REVIEW: Rumble in the Comedy Jungle, Night 1

Last night was the first night of the Venture Area Theatresports (VATS) Laughingstock 3: Rumble in the Comedy Jungle, and I'd say we all had a great time. Five of the Caught in the Act players joined in the first Free-For-All at 6:00 pm, mixing it up with players from VATS, the Chadwick Improvisors (Chimps) from Palos Verdes CA, and Rapid Fire Theatre from Edmonton Canada. Afterwards, we stuck around to see several really fun improv shows. It started with a traditional Theatresports match which I enjoyed, except of course for the horribly deluded judging (boo! hiss!). Players from VATS, Chimps, and LA Theatresports (LATS) challenged each other to some very funny scenes. And I must say that this show included the best portrayal of a spaceship using a chair that I have ever scene. Ever.

Then the Rapid Fire group performed a very funny long form structure. Three very appealing guys spent an hour taking suggestions they fished from the audience (you'd have to see that process to appreciate it) to put together some wonderful scenes, running the gamut from bullies at school to dealing with a delusional girlfriend.

There was a Gorilla Theatre competition, which I thought was some of the best improv all night. The four experienced improvisers put on a great show. Three were from the VATS group, and one fellow was from San Diego. For me, he was the hit of the show. When performing, his characters had a riveting physical presence, creating some really wonderful scenes. I believe he won the competition, but who can understand the subtleties of scoring?

The night ended with an Improv Jam, where they had 8 players from VATS, Chimps, and Edmonton on stage putting together whatever came to their crazed minds. It lasted about an hour, and although the scenes were risky and didn't always work, they hit to some fun moments, and their enthusiasm really made the show.

I'm sorry I didn't get more of the players' names. Tonight I'll try and get a better list, and I may come back and add some to this post. I need to take better notes, but it's all so delightfully distracting.

On a final note, I want to thank the VATS organizers, and let everyone know how damn well they treat their guest performers. Besides the logo tee shirts and food, they always made us feel welcome and appreciated. They put on a great festival. Get out there!

UPDATE: Rumble in the Comedy Jungle

I just got word that players from Caught in the Act will be performing at Laughingstock 3: Rumble in the Comedy Jungle this Friday, September 1 at 6:00 pm. That's scheduled to be a Free-For-All, so we'll be mixed in with other players. At this point, the players from SB Improv will be Jim, Andy, Mike, Patrick and myself. There are shows scheduled through the night on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday so set aside some time and head on down to Venture.

Rumble in the Comedy Jungle

The Ventura Area Theater Sports group is hosting their annual Improvathon this Labor Day Weekend at their Livery Theatre. This year the event is called Laughingstock III: Rumble in the Comedy Jungle. They host an extended weekend of improv shows and events, hosting groups from around California, and this year at least one group from Canada is being featured. Players from our Caught in the Act group participated last year, and we had a blast. Several of us plan on being part of the show, and I hope to get down to watch a lot of great improv. Check out their schedule and get yourselves down there.

Puppet Improv

Okay, how the heck did I miss this?!? Apparently, at ComicCon, the folks at the Jim Henson Company put on a performance called Jim Henson's Puppet Improv. Here's a clip from the show. After the introduction, they do a translation improv game. The sound isn't great, but you get the idea. I was astounded at their ability to do a nice improv scene, do the puppeteering, and keep those characters physicalizing their reactions. Sweet!

Improv Everywhere

I came across the Improv Everywhere website which organizes what I would call "street improv" in NYC. In their own words, "Improv Everywhere causes scenes of chaos and joy in public places". I have a real fondness for this form of guerrilla theater, and envy/admiration for what they've already accomplished. I found the court document from their No Pants Case interesting and a bit reassuring that the justice system can allow for some random acts of fun.

Auction to name a NY improv group

Okay, this is wacky. A recently formed New York improv group is having trouble coming up with a name, so they plan on auctioning off the right to name the group. You can read their info at their website, The auction will take place on eBay, starting Monday, July 10, and run for 10 days. I'll keep an eye on this one.

bang. studio

I just came across this group called bang. studio. They've got a level 1 class starting up this Monday, July 10 and I wanted to post a link to it. I don't know much about them, so I can't really say how they compare. They say they've been around 10 years and provide a 'supportive, creative, fun environment'. There are a variety of shows performed at their performance space, and they produce some short videos. Check it out at your own risk!

John Kinde, Humor Power

John is a magician, improvisor, teacher, speaker, businessman, and all around damn nice guy. He's also a prolific writer and marketer. Part of his improv education happened with SBIW, but he's someone who went out and actively educated himself on improv, and then built an environment in which he could continue to learn and perform. The Santa Maria improv group that he ran had some of the biggest improv audiences I'd worked with up to that time, and the performances were great. He was always welcoming, and encouraged the Santa Barbara group to come up and participate. I was sorry to see him move to Las Vegas, but could count on him to put together a significant improv community. So I was pleased to be toodling around the Web and discover his web site, Humor Power. I just subscribed to his newsletter and read some of his articles. He does a good job of pulling together what he's learned into a very approachable style. Check out some of his articles.

And, whenever you are in the Las Vegas area, check out his group's public shows.

San Francisco Improv Festival

There are still a couple of weeks left for the San Francisco Improv Festival. This festival has been going from June 15 and has shows through July 29th, so if you are up in the bay area during that time, check out the ensemble performance schedule. There are still a couple of workshops, so check in on the workshop schedule if you are interested.

Improvability on Hiatus

I got a call back from Marc Shaw at Improvability, and he says that the group is on break for the summer. So they won't be putting on a show until October. Rats. He's moved out of the area, so it may be a different cast of characters that picks it up again in the fall.


There is another performing group in the Santa Barbara area, out at UCSB: Improvability. They have two shows on Friday nights. The first show is at 8:00 pm, and the second show starts at 9:30 pm. I've not been to a show myself, but folks who have say that the show is great. Also, I've worked with one of the players (Tawnie) as a member of Caught in the Act and she's a wonderful improvisor, so go check out a show. I just revisited their website and they had a big 24 hour improvathon over the June 2-3 weekend, but the site hasn't been updated since then (other than some unfortunate spam on their forum). So, it's possible they are off for the summer since it's a student group.