How far can you stretch a premise? And how far will the audience go with you? Geneseo improvisational comedy troupe No Laugh Track Required tested these questions during its free performance in Sturges Auditorium on Saturday Oct. 27.
The group announced at the start of the show that they would focus entirely on long-form improv, eschewing traditional improv games in favor of scenes that swapped settings and themes, morphing as different members joined and left.
The show began with an eating contest in which members crammed fun-size candy bars into their mouths and then threw what was left so hard that the candy smashed against the back wall.
Alumnus Alex Timmis ‘12 ramblingly discoursed on topics as diverse as not trusting fruit, shoplifting inner-tubes at Wal-Mart, and stealing food from Campus Auxiliary Services based on an audience suggestion of “banana.” His stream-of-consciousness stories warmed the audience up and set the scene for the rest of the night.
No Laugh Track played a game known as “freeze tag” which depends heavily on a scene technique called “tapping out.” A scene typically went as follows: Two members would enter the stage, jumping in with a premise such as the secret insecurities of fruit. After the jokes seemed to tire, another member or two would come out, tap someone on the shoulder and introduce a new character into the scene.
Scenes could radically change throughout the course of four or five minutes, moving from a shopping mall to hell.
When the skit came to a close, a member would “swipe the scene” with a “sweep edit,” running once around the performers to end the scene.
The group broke the show in two, half long-form improvisation and half monologues, which helped to give the performers ideas. For instance, a comment about facial hair spurred a sketch involving the failed mustache ideas of historical figures, which referenced an earlier sketch. It was all very clever.
After a short intermission, the troupe touched briefly on politics, doing its best to freshen up the tired “horserace” metaphor before ending out the show with a sketch based on first dates at movie theaters, overzealous people shushing and an usher that couldn’t be stopped, even when it came time to sing senior Audrey Schiffhauer “Happy Birthday.”
It was a memorable end to a hilarious night, and the audience obviously agreed, giving a standing ovation.