Geneseo’s teaching improvisation troupe Currently Known As held a free show in Wadsworth 21 on Saturday Oct. 25. The actors improvised a series of sketches based on different scenarios with some help from audience suggestions. Currently Known As teaches students the art of improvisational theater while holding regular events and shows. Upon walking into the room where the show was staged, I was happy to see it was filled with students excitedly chattering. The setting was very casual; the audience sat at desks and chairs in a lecture set-up, with the actors at the front of the room.
To be completely honest, I was somewhat nervous about what was to come. My previous experience with improv shows was from high school student performances that could be a bit painful. That was certainly not the case with Currently Known As. Each student brought a different form of humor that kept the audience in stitches from beginning to end. The actors didn’t hold back, fully committing to each situation no matter how bizarre.
The show started off with a fairly well-known skit called “Party Quirks.” One actor was the host of a party and each guest had a strange quirk given to them by audience suggestion. The host then had to figure out what each guest’s quirk was. The suggestions were excellent; one of the most creative ideas was to act like a crime-fighting cactus.
Another one of my personal favorites was “Mannequins.” This skit involved two audience members who came to the front to move the actors around as if they were puppets. What ensued was a skit about a father-daughter dance battle that had quite a few members of the audience in tears.
At the beginning of the show, we were given slips of paper and asked to write down a few phrases. Each phrase was put in a bucket and then incorporated as a line in the skit. Some highlights included “next time on the ‘Real Housewives of New Jersey’…” and “was there always a weasel in this submarine?”
One skit that further showed each actor’s creativity was “Musical Improv.” One of the actors had a guitar and would periodically begin playing it throughout the skit. The actors then had to break into song while continuing the storyline, which in this case involved two friends who stumble upon a murderous hermit in the Amazon.
The show was entertaining from start to finish. What made it particularly exciting was the enthusiastic audience participation and constant high energy coming from the actors. I highly recommend going to the next Currently Known As performance if you’re in the mood to laugh until it hurts.