Roaring laughs and clamorous cheers coursed through a bright-eyed audience on Friday night, lighting up the moody ambiance of Pigott Theater. The Stanford Improvisors (SImps) took to the stage to perform a series of spontaneous humorous acts led by audience suggestions.
One of the most memorable acts, “Radio,” hosted by “DJ Woozy Woo” and “Janice,” played a mashup of satisfying instrumental music coupled with ear-piercingly shrill backup singing. Toothy grins and wide eyes from the performers hinted at their excitement when games took weird or surprising turns. Shorter acts in the section ranged from a successful surgery performed with craft scissors and bare hands to a young man finally realizing that he was a pushover after being buried under tomato cans. They didn’t know where their acts were going to take them, which made them even more exhilarating.
Another improv game, “Shakespearean switch,” impressed the audience when actors had to switch their speaking style from modern-day English to Shakespearean speech when prompted by a clap. This created comical situations wherein a mall was also a palace and security guards doubled as palace guards.
The show kicked off with a “Nut-allergy-problems” ballad that musically chronicled the journey of a young boy with a peanut allergy. On his 10th birthday, he takes a daring step and tries a peanut. To the astonishment of everyone in the room, he survives! Complete with excessive floor-rolling and existential screams, the act garnered laughs and giggles from everyone in the audience.
Up next? “Bartender.” When the audience was asked to shout out “a question or a problem one might talk to a bartender about,” “Divorce!” was the loudest answer. As it often does during improvisation, this story took quite an unpredictable turn. An empathetic conversation about divorce between a bartender and a sad, recent divorcée turned quickly into a hastily planned bank robbery.
Despite the unpredictable turn of events, the SImps quickly adjusted to the situation. At times, when acts were chaotic, they paused to recollect themselves and think ahead, yet the act flowed naturally. The bank robbery was so well done that it almost seemed planned.
“Sing it,” another hilarious act, displayed the terrifying, yet friendly relationship between a child and a clown. Flushed faces, friendly balloon-making, and fearful encounters made this act a humorous one. The ability of the clown to switch instantly from an intimidating creature to a caring entertainer was impressive. The strong chemistry between the performers coupled with rhyming dialogue made this act a thoroughly enjoyable one.
Peanuts were eaten, mucus was discussed, a bank was robbed and lettuce was sold. All the acts only further confirmed the promise and aptitude of the improvisers. Their quick thinking coupled with their astounding theatrical and musical skills ensured that there was never a dull moment or awkward pause.
The improvisors made sure that the audience was included every step of the way. It was an unforgettable night filled with laughs and games that fed off the crowd’s vibrant energy.
Editor’s Note: This article is a review and includes subjective thoughts, opinions and critiques.