On Thursday, Sept. 28, the West Chester University Improv Group, better known as Deep Dish Pizzazz, had their first improv show of the semester. Main 168, the lecture hall where it was held, was busy and buzzing, full of eager audience members. Improv, formally known as improvisation, is all about thinking on your feet. A scene will be set, and actors have to work together and think on the spot to create a scene. The actors have no preparation whatsoever.
The show is set up by a series of improv games. All of the actors have to work together for the best possible outcomes. Scenes are set many different ways, including rotating games like longform, or the loosest form of improv. A more structured improv game Deep Dish Pizazz does is called “Press Conference.” “Press Conference” is when an actor has to be a criminal in a press conference to address reporters, but the criminal does not know what he/she has done. It is up to the reporters to try and clue them in.
The audience was erupting in laughter when the criminal was the clown Pennywise from the movie “It” who stole Fruit Loops from a grocery store. Deep Dish Pizzazz Improv scenes are usually directed towards comedic approaches. The unique aspect of the improv show is that the audience are encouraged to make suggestions as soon as they walk in.
The improv team members manning the table where pins and bottle openers were for sale encouraged people to write down suggestions for “Pockets and Seeds From a Hat.” Pockets are suggestions the audience has for the improv team members that they literally put in their pockets. During a scene, the improv team members pull them out of their pockets and have to work with what they are given. An example of a pocket from the show is “I am the muffin man.”
Seeds from a hat are prompts that any audience member can also contribute to. An example was a task for the show “Fear Factor.” A particularly unique response to this prompt was “You have to host fear factor for the rest of the season.”
During this improv scene, the improv actors once again have to be able to think on their feet and contribute to the plotline. Since it was the first show of the semester, there were many people there for their first time watching Deep Dish Pizazz.
Alli Lauletta, a newcomer, stated that she “was impressed by how good the acting was.” The audience contributes to every scene before it starts. Actors running the scenes will say “Give me a place,” or “Give me a problem” and questions of that nature. A suggested place that was used was a tire store, and a problem used was how to navigate parking on campus.
These kind of suggestions were especially hilarious during “The Good Bad and Ugly” game. In this improv game, the audience is encouraged to express a problem. The improv actors then give the volunteer audience member good, bad and ugly advice. Throughout many scenes, the audience laughed uncontrollably. At certain points it was so loud it was difficult to hear the actors! Shane Park, the president of the improv group explained, “We definitely love doing stuff for campus!” The next improv show is Thursday Oct 19, so get ready to bring some creative suggestions!
Joyce Weiner is a second-year student with a dual major in early grade preparation and special education. She can be reached at JW865765@wcupa.edu.