By Erin Kayata
While waiting for Bring Your Own Improv to start, the girl who was taking tickets at the door approached and handed me a slip of paper.
“Write your name down and hand it back to me if you’d like a chance to participate in the show,” she explained. This was my first hint of what was to come.
When the show began, our host, Erich, echoed the hint that I’d received earlier when he told us one of the show’s only rules: everyone can participate. The other audience members and I quickly learned that this was not the kind of show where we could just sit back and be entertained. Bring Your Own Improv is an interactive comedy experience that relies heavily on audience participation to create a unique and comical show.
The first activity involved our chosen featured audience member, or FAM, as the troupe calls them. Our FAM was Cesary, who told us interesting bits about his life, like his immigration from Poland when he was in his teens, or his reliance on his iPhone. Throughout the show, bits and pieces from Cesary’s life were drawn into skits, starting with one revolving around the traffic from Poland to America. Eventually, this somehow turned into a skit about a kung-fu movie that takes place on a train.
Even if you didn’t sign up to be a featured audience member, the troupe quickly made it clear that you would not be spared when it came to participating. Following Cesary’s tale, the troupe then told a story that required each section of the audience to make different animal noises. From there, the crew played games such as Trolley Stop, where the crew took on a variety of different characters and World Without a Letter, which required the members to only use words without the letters “M” and “O”. Each time the audience was invited to join, and was even asked random questions to determine which letters would be off limits in World Without a Letter.
I myself took the participation plunge during a game called Action Figures, where I had to move around a cast member as he narrated a story based off of how I moved him. At first a little hesitant, I found joining into the games made the whole experience much more hilarious. The show is designed so that you don’t necessarily have to be good at improv to join in. Timmy in the Well, a game in which three audience members act as dogs in order to tell their owner an urgent message, and Action Figures, allow those who have no improv experience allow the audience to join in on the fun without necessarily saying a word. All other games have a standing invitation for audience members to join in. Though the troupe did a fine job when standing on their own, audience participation allows for each show to be a completely unique experience.
So bring your personality and your best improv skills. Bring Your Own Improv is great experience for all, but is even better for those who are unafraid to dive in and join the show. The show occurs every Friday at 10 PM at Theater 82 in Cranston and I can guarantee every time will be a unique show. For more information go to http://www.bringyourownimprov.com/