Improv troop delights audience

On Saturday night, the Lawrence University Best Friends Improv Troop put on their second show of Spring Term in Memorial Hall 001. The team that night consisted of seniors Nina Wilson and Tess Bourbeau, junior Ethan Penny, sophomores Jack Thibault, Nysio Poulakos and Emma Bergholz as well as freshmen Anna White and Kelly Foy. Emceeing the event was Wilson, who is co-president of the team alongside senior Grace Reif, who was not able to make it that night.

With an enthusiastic audience cheering them on, the team kicked off the show with a game called “Crazy Quest,” which involved four players—Foy, White, Bourbeau and Thibault. The game began with a suggestion from the audience of an object that would “never save someone’s life.” In this case, the object was a paperclip. From here, it was the goal of one of the actors—Foy—to retrieve the paperclip in order to “save the life” of one of the other actors—White—who had feigned illness at the start of the scene. In order to get the paperclip, she sought the help of Thibault, who promised to give her the paperclip if only she would bring him a second object. Foy then ran to Bourbeau requesting the second object, who promised to hand it over if only she would bring them a third object. The game carried on like this, Foy running from Thibault to Bourbeau, who took on the role of a new character each time, until Wilson shouted from the sideline, “You’re running out of time!” At this  point, Foy retraced her steps, delivering each object as requested, until she had retrieved the paperclip and brought it to White. This saved her from the beyond.

Next, the team played another short-form game called “Survivor,” in which Wilson, Penny, Bergholz and Poulakos performed a skit based on a location suggestion from the audience (senior Erik Nordstrom volunteered, “gum-farm!”). At the end of the first round of the sketch, the audience was asked to clap the loudest for whomever they wanted to leave the scene the most. After the chosen one exited, the remaining members repeated the skit as it was the first time but with fewer actors; this repeated until there is only one player left standing.

On the gum-farm, everybody was, of course, chewing gum. Everything was going fine until Wilson complained that she thought she had gingivitis. Poulakos inspected the inside of her mouth, but he accidentally coughed while doing so. Then he had to be inspected by Bergholz, who also uncontrollably coughed; the pattern continued when Penny inspected Bergholz’s mouth.

Poulakos was the first to be eliminated, followed by Bergholz and then Wilson. Penny, instead of performing the scene one last time by himself, took a seat, looked at the audience grimly and said, “So, you all just watched me get my mouth coughed into.”

Finally, the team played a long-form game called “Close-Quarters,” which is a series of short sketches taking place in the same audience-suggested location (which must be about the size of a school or hospital but can be neither of those places). The location that night was a fallout bunker. While there were plenty of compelling scenes, a few scenes in particular stood out:

Foy and Poulakos played two friends catching up for the first time since Foy returned from her “semester abroad at the Texas Bunker.” Foy, as delicately as possible, tried to explain to Poulakos that since he hasn’t been abroad and she has, they can’t connect like they used to because she’s far more cultured than he after her time away.

Bergholz stood up on a chair and stared down complacently at Wilson and Bourbeau. “The floor is lava,” she said suddenly. Wilson quickly jumped on the other chair. “I hate it when you do this,” Bourbeau complained. Bergholz deadpanned, “Why? ‘Cuz there are only two chairs in the bunker?”

Bergholz kneeled thoughtfully, her eyes closed. White came up behind her, asking tenderly, “Are you praying again, Mother?” Bergholz nodded. White hesitated before saying, “Daddy says God cannot help us and that He’s dead.” Bergholz insisted upon continuing her prayer as God responded (from the mouths of other team members sitting on the sidelines) insultingly with whispers of: “Fuck you,” and, “Your daughter hates you.” Bergholz, outraged by the latter comment, turned to White and began to condemn her. Though White insisted it wasn’t true, Bergholz continued to push. The argument escalated and White shouted, “I need to get away from you! I’m going to go to the Texas Bunker!” Bergholz yelled, “Fine! Maybe God is alive there, you whore!” At that punch line, which ended the game, the audience cracked up and cheered. Bergholz, almost surprised by what came out of her mouth, hugged White and apologized, but audience and actors alike could tell that it had all been in good fun.