CEU's improv troupe shines
Actors on the Spot is an improvisational comedy troupe that has entertained those attending their shows for about six years now according to the groups leader this year Zak Konakis.
Zak summed up the troupe as an eclectic collection of hectic selections.
A favorite joke from years gone involved, Andrew Barrus showing the worst way to propose to someone, "It's your choice, the ring or the brick," he says. The audience loved it and the phrase has been used multiple times over the years to illicit responses from the crowd.
This year's team include such talent as; Zak Konakis, Justin Sacco, Henry Rudolph, Devin Skinner, Mitchell G. Ewan and Braden Nelsen. Most of the team were recruited by Andrew Barrus and Randon Kerr who attended CEU in recent years.
When asked the reason why they got involved, the responses ranged from Henry being on an improv team at Riverton High School in Riverton, Utah. Zak started once he was at CEU but has a long history of making jokes with Mitch.
Braden has been doing improv for five years. Mitch started with the workshops that Barrus and Kerr ran, then was invited to join them on stage. Justin Sacco started this year with workshops and was also invited to join in the shows.
The games they play and skits they act out range widely with most of them depending on audience participation to get ideas of what to play off of. Henry's favorite type are the scene based games.
Some of these include a person who "died." The actors must communicate who they are, how they were killed and where it occurred all with out speaking. Zak's favorite game is "Hecklers," which involves a serious scene onstage with people in the back cracking jokes, mostly off color, about what is going on.
"I used to do it a lot in school so now I have something to channel my humor into," Zak said. Mitch's favorite is "Interrogators," a classic good cop/bad cop. This game also involves not talking, forcing the actors to come up with ways to express what happened.
Sacco enjoys the game "Make a Date, in which the contestants portray a "persona" that the dater must figure out.
A memorable character according to the group was Mitch playing Pee Wee Herman possessed by a demon.
Mitch started joking with his friends in high school when he would make up funny scenarios and do other spontaneous things.
Henry gets his inspiration from British comedy, which was a common consensus among the group. He likes intellectual comedy, elevated humor and satirical jokes. Zak enjoys comedy that is wit-based. He noted that a lot of "gutter" humor is portrayed promanately nowadays.
He also enjoys Wes Anderson films, watching a ton of improv and his favorite show Mock the Week, a British roundtable show making fun of the news that week.
Braden is a fan of Whose Line is it Anyway. Sacco will do anything for a laugh, most often engaging in physical comedy. "I always leave a show with a scrape or bruise," he said.
Randon and Barrus were a great influence on the team. They helped members overcome the nerve-wracking aspect of whether or not a joke will be good or bomb. Not knowing how the joke will go over is a major concern but they have to let go of those fears to put on a good show.
According to Henry, the team works well together, they make it work. Zak mentioned that he and Mitch have good synergy and have each other's backs so their jokes fly freely.
British comedy was a recurring source of role models and material, with Mitch saying that he looks up to them the most. Zak also loves Robin Williams for his ability to create characters on the fly and transition smoothly to new ideas and run with them.
A packed house makes the evening more enjoyable for the performers; more people to feed off of their energy usually makes the show better according to Mitch.
Then again, nothing is worse than when a joke bombs and the crowd goes silent. "If we can make the audience forget about their troubles for an hour, we have done our jobs," Mitch said.
Their next show is on Thursday, April 15 at 5 p.m.. That show is slated to go an hour and a half. All are welcome to attend the show which is held in the Little Theatre in the SAC building on CEU campus.
With the school year drawing to a close there are few shows left for those interested in seeing young performers showcasing their ability to lighten the mood and poke fun at everything under the sun.