There are many different facets to acting. At the one extreme you have scripted, rehearsed scenes that have been perfected via intense rehearsal. On the other hand, you have improv – making it up as you go along.
Second City is a Chicago institution that has nearly perfected the craft of improv. Many Second City alumni have gone on to fame, most notably via television’s Saturday Night Live. Famous graduates to go on to SNL include John Belushi, Dan Ackroyd, Gilda Radner, Bill Murray, Jim Belushi, Mike Meyers, Chris Farley, Tim Meadows, and Tina Fey.
I took classes with Second City. Improv is a unique animal. You are literally being told to be funny – with no preparation. You have to free yourself to not think and just react spontaneously.
Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding is an environmental theater production that is about half scripted, and half improv. When I came to Chicago to boost ticket sales as the first special guest star in Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding, I had a blast every night seeing what kind of hilarity I could create with my fellow cast members.
Playing Tony Nunzio was a lot of fun. That’s why I kept going after Chicago. When word got out what a guest star could do for ticket sales, I had offers to appear in productions all across the country. It was fun revising the character to match each new town I visited.
As someone who has danced upon the figurative wire with no net below, I have the utmost admiration for improv troupes. These are people ready to risk failure for the opportunity to try to make you laugh.
On a recent Saturday night I had the great pleasure of attending a performance by Any Suggestions?. This improv group is fabulous! The performers consist of April Noel, Brian Freeman, Andrew Buel, Tracey Lanman ,Trace Gamache, Chelsea Smith, Jeffrey DuBois, and Heidi Allen.
For a straight hour, the group of skilled comedic minds engage in games and challenges of the utmost absurdity. Each performer takes the baton and races to new levels of comedic gold.
In one game, for instance, five members of the troupe must perform famous characters or act out famous events but can only talk in gibber jabber. A sixth member must then guess what is being acted out.
In another game that audiences may recall from television’s Whose Line is it Anyway?, the players must improvise a hoedown song with ridiculous parameters.
No two improv shows are ever the same. That’s part of the fun of doing improv. It’s also a reason to seek out and support local artists like Any Suggestions? You will not be disappointed.
There is a suggested donation of $10 per person for Any Suggestions? shows. The entertainment is well worth the money. And it’s a lot more fun than sitting around the house watching Law & Order reruns.
Any Suggestions? will next be performing Saturday, December 18 at 8 PM at Hidden Pearl Café, 1250 N. Green Street, in McHenry, IL. I suggest you add it to your calendar. After all the holiday shopping, you’ll welcome a night of carefree laughter.
For details on other Any Suggestions? upcoming performances, visit their Facebook page.
Peace. Love. Trust.
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