Fringe-Prov: A second opinion – This improv is hard to pull off

Shut the Front Door Improv
London, ON
Playwright: Shut The Front Door Improv
Featuring: Claire Brown, Ryan Holden, Andrew Jarvis, Kathleen Jackson,
Brandon Rudd and Sam Tall.
Improv. AKA making it all up based on audience suggestions.
Recommended for 14+ audiences
Continuing: Tues., June 11th, 6 – 7 p.m., Fri., June 14th, 10 – 11p.m., Sat., June 15th, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m., Sun., June 16th, 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.
Running time:  50mins

If I took away one thing from Shut the Front Door Improv’s (STFD) Fringe Prov on Sunday night it was that the cast of Whose Line is it Anyways makes it look way too easy. The STFD team spent an hour playing various Whose Line games both with and without audience participation in the blind hope that they’ll stumble upon something funny. Now, it’s true that the show changes every night, so maybe STFD just had an off night at the end of the week but for an improv comedy show they just didn’t deliver.

My dislike of audience interaction is well documented and I always admit my bias and go in with an open mind. I’m proud to say though, that this is the first show in which I hoped throughout the entire sixty minutes that STFD would pull more audience members up on the stage. They were the funniest part of the show. The suggestions from the crowd and the brave souls who ventured up on stage provided me some of the only laughs of the evening.

There are two golden rules of improv in theatre: 1) say yes! If you’re improv partner holds out their hand and says “here take this apple” and you say “No! That’s a baseball” then the scene will quickly die; 2) move on! If something is not working, or not funny, move on to something new, something different. Neither of these rules was followed last night. At one point half way through one of the skits a member of the troupe actually said, “You’re giving me nothing to work with!” That really said it all.

The most painful game of the night Late for Work, involved one of the troupe having to guess why he was late for work while two others tried to mime out the situation behind the back of his boss. The audience had suggested three things that had kept him that morning and despite a very good charades attempt from the two mimers, the guesser just wasn’t getting it. Instead of moving on to the next situation, the audience sat stunned by the fact they refused to move on until he had guessed it correctly. Even the performer playing the boss was trying to get him to move on to the point of feeding him the correct answer.

This is certainly not a family show, not for young children, and not even one I would be comfortable seeing with my mother. The sexual innuendoes and positions were rampant and while there were some funny moments there were far more moments that made me cringe.

Improv is incredibly difficult to do well and this show was sorely without good laughs and fast-paced humour.

  /   4

Ryan Cole is a local actor, director and founding member of Richmond and Tower Productions.