By McKenzie Fetters
On Thursday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m., Lawrence University’s improvisation group, the Optimistic Feral Children (OFC), presented an improvisation show. As I made my way into the Cloak Theatre that night, I was stopped by a team member wielding some lipstick in his right hand. He asked me, “Have you been to a show before?” I responded, “Yes,” so he waived me in and promptly used the lipstick to mark the person behind me, who had not been to a show before, on the cheek.
Having witnessed their show before, I was aware of OFC’s practices, so the lipstick-marking at the door did not surprise me. The group—composed of nine Lawrentians with excellent improvisational skills—typically performs various games and skits in their shows and makes a constant effort to involve the audience as much as possible.
Sure enough, the group’s first move was to call several audience members with lipstick on their cheeks to the stage. Each audience member was then paired with an OFC member, who attempted to scare them in a creative way and elicit the best scream in response. Impressively, the unprepared audience members responded with great enthusiasm, and corresponding hilarity ensued in the audience, kicking the show off to a great start.
Next, the team did imitations of the world’s worst version of professions that were called out by the audience, which compelled some amusing impressions of lousy doctors, among other things.
Then, the team played a game called “Press Conference,” in which one team member stepped outside while the rest of the group and the audience decided upon a random person that the person outside was supposed to be and an event that that person had participated in. Once the team member outside stepped back in, the OFC members sitting in the audience asked descriptive questions with the intent of getting the person onstage to eventually discover who they were supposed to be and what they had done.
In this case, the audience decided that the chosen OFC member should be wrestler John Cena and that this press conference should focus upon his most recent act of wrestling a puppy. This scene caused many loud guffaws in the audience as the clueless member onstage tried to effectively answer seemingly random questions about puppies and wrestling.
The team also played a game called “Two Options,” in which two team members onstage act ed out a scenario and then had to come up with new actions, reactions and solutions for that scenario.
After that, the team acted out a game called “Survivor,” where members play out a random scene—the focus of which is determined by audience shout-outs—and then the audience votes with applause for the best member in the scene. The person with the quietest applause after each round gets eliminated from the scene, and the remaining members onstage are forced to play both that person’s part in the scene and their own. The audience roared with laughter during this portion as the scene’s players decreased until at last, one person was scrambling to act out a four-person scene all on their own.
Finally, the team finished the night off with a game called “La Ronde”—a French phrase meaning ‘round.’ This game involves multiple scenes that all take place in a fictional small town where it is assumed that everyone knows each other, with each team member acting in at least two scenes. The point of the game is for the last scene to somehow connect back to the first scene, taking into account the plot other characters have added to.
In what was arguably the best game of the night by far, the team crafted an expert tale that started out with two men fishing in a river, one of whom possessed a runaway wife, and ended up with the wife of the first fisherman being discovered with her old high school sweetheart. There were many hilarious twists and turns in between.
I am always pleased with the team’s ability to get everyone in the audience to consistently laugh and enjoy themselves. If you are looking for a night filled with laughter and fun, then you should come to the OFC’s next show on Saturday, Nov. 14 at 8 p.m.