Seeing as this generation of college students undoubtedly grew up watching re-runs of “Whose Line is it Anyway?” on ABC Family, there can be no question regarding the current appeal of improvisational comedy. That’s why last Friday, Oct. 4, Lawrence’s improv team Optimistic Feral Children (OFC) had a near-full audience in the Cloak Theater for their first show of the year.
OFC, formerly Hi, I’mProv, was formed in its first iteration in fall 2011. The beginning was purportedly rocky, but the team gained a large amount of support regardless. The following year stepped it up a notch as seniors Brian Zindler and Joram Zbichorski stepped in as leaders.
Senior Erik Morrison, one of the founding members, who had studied abroad at the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year, commented on the improvement:
“By the time I was back, we already had a much more stable dynamic on the team, and we could start doing the harder and more scene-based long-form improv style regularly.”
Developments continued when OFC participated in a workshop with Chicago comedy group Octavarius when they visited campus.
“We learned a lot from them, which brought us together even more as a team,” continued Morrison. “They suggested we try to hang out as much as possible, even live together.”
OFC applied for themed housing as a result, which is how Comedy House came to be this year.
The team is currently made up of twelve members: Co-leaders Zbichorski, Zindler and Morrison; members sophomores Jon Hanrahan and Micayla Hutton, seniors Shannon Kreuser, Sadie Lancrete, Abi Leveille, Nick Paulson and Portia Turner; and new freshmen members Regina Cornish Morales and Ridley Tankersley.
“I’m very excited to be cast on the team this year,” said Tankersley. “Everyone has been real nice and our practices thus far have been swell.”
Response to the first show was very positive from both the group and audience members. New this year is the use of the Cloak Theater, which the group always wanted as a performance space but was never confident in filling until now.
“It was a fantastic space,” Morrison said, “and hopefully we’ll be able to perform there a lot this year.”
Games played included One-liners, World’s Worst, Emotional Party, Spelling Bee, Rotation, Slideshow, Survivor and Le Ronde. The team hopes to incorporate more scene-based games in the future, as they work on scenes a lot in practice and they seem to be their strength.
“For this show we had a very loose Stephen Sondheim theme,” said Morrison. “Our themes only really affect our introductions and between-game banter at this point. We did so many vanilla shows over the past few years that we want to make every part of the show—even the times between games—fun for the audience.”
OFC is bringing the world-renowned Upright Citizens to campus on Oct. 17 for a show and workshops. They also plan to participate in the College Improv Tournament regional in February. Another potentiality is an improv festival on campus with a number of other college teams later this year.
Although OFC has finished with auditions, they are always looking for new talent. The best way to show your interest is to do improv with them during open practices on Fridays at 5:00 p.m. The location varies depending on space availability, so like the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/lawrenceimprov or send an email to email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com to get on the email list.