The audience in the Geva Theatre laughed sporadically this past weekend in Rochester, as the group known as Geva Comedy Improv performed its first two shows of the year on Friday and Saturday night, respectively, to a crowd of eager residents, students and theater-goers from the area.
GCI, founded in 2002, is composed of eight regular male members. Additionally, performer John Zaffino joined the cast this weekend as a guest improviser.
Friday night's show featured a sports theme, with the cast split up into two equal teams known respectively as the Pretentious Improv Group (PIG) and the Beowolves. Member Ted Limpert acted as host, often soliciting the audience for improv skit ideas and volunteers, explaining the rules as the night began, and keeping score throughout the performance.
The show began with a brief but entertaining game to decide which team would go first. Categories were yelled out by the audience, and team members had to name related items without hesitating or repeating answers.
Upon winning, the Beowolves began with a skit called "Moving Bodies," in which a single volunteer from the audience was responsible for physically moving all of their bodies around the stage as the team acted out a suggested scenario (in this case, an emergency at the White House). The result was an amusing if not especially hilarious experience for the audience, and a low score overall for the Beowolves from the "referee."
PIG followed up with a "Song Creation" game. As they acted out the consequences of a "steamy" office love triangle, members from the opposing team would randomly shout out the phrase, "Sounds like a song to me," causing the PIG member speaking to have to come up with a song on the spot featuring the sentence he had just said. Memorable examples included songs like "This Snow Globe" and "I am a Whirlwind, Baby." Overall, this segment of the show proved much more entertaining than the first, and ultimately received a high score, thus putting PIG in the lead throughout most of the night.
Other memorable skits that followed included an impressive segment called "Three Way Dubbing," in which the members of a team acted out a scenario while supplying each others' voices, including serenading one young audience member who volunteered to come on stage. Geneseo sophomore Alyson Childers participated in a segment of the show as well, in which she played a young woman on a very comical first date with one of the members of Beowolf team.
The show finished up with a dance-off between the two teams. Ultimately, the Beowolves came out victorious with a hilarious performance by member Nick DiCola to Right Said Fred's famous song, "I'm Too Sexy."
Overall, though the comedy sometimes fell a little short, GCI show was well-performed. Its most enjoyable feature was the degree of interactivity with the audience, which was often addressed directly by cast members as well as Limpert.
GCI will be doing one set of consecutive Friday and Saturday night shows per month from March through July at the Geva Theatre. More information on the improv group, including show times and prices, as well as information on more events at the Geva Theatre can be found at www.gevatheatre.org.