The Last Laugh Improv Troupe performed two shows on the Armstrong Campus in the International Gardens on Mar. 25 and 26. Students, faculty, and family were in attendance as the troupe, led by Senior Fiona Schirmer, performed high energy, improvisational comedy.
The actors performed a long-form, improvised storyline that ran through the entire show. The breaks between scenes were occupied by a variety of games that highlighted the individual actors’ abilities.
The show provided a fun way for students and others to let off steam after working through a pandemic that has lasted over a year. The audience was very supportive and often participatory in the show itself, with audience involvement being a long-standing tradition of improv.
The nature of improv demands that actors take risks. They have to trust that what they come up with will be funny without crossing any ethical boundaries. This can be a difficult balance to achieve in the moment, but the actors seemed more than willing to walk that line.
Schirmer, a theater major, spoke about balancing the audience’s expectations with what they might see onstage.
“When an audience comes to an improv show, I think there’s some knowledge that it could go anywhere. And it is a hard balance, because there are some rules in improv: You can’t say ‘no.’ You can’t do this, you can’t do that… But the good stuff sometimes includes that, so you have to give a little leeway,” Schirmer said.
This has been Schirmer’s first semester as troupe leader for the Last Laugh, and it has been eventful for obvious reasons. The community of the improv troupe, despite initial difficulty, has remained intact.
“When the pandemic first happened, it was a complete split, which I think most communities suffered from…You can’t be in a theater together. It’s just broken. Now that we can be together, it was like ‘Yes! We can be together! It’s amazing!’ That privilege is not lost on us. We know what it’s like not to be together, and now we know what it’s like to be together,” Schirmer said.
She went on to say, “In improv, you have to rely on each other. It’s you and another person, so you have to form that bond.”
Theater has been particularly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and even with society beginning to open up, safety measures make live, in-person acting particularly difficult. Specifically, masks are a challenge.
Schirmer is ready to see her fellow actors’ faces again. “You can convey emotion just by pursing your lips. You can’t see that under a mask… I cannot wait to not wear them. Safely!” Schirmer said.
Anybody interested in following the Armstrong Theatre Department further can look forward to seeing their performance of “The Laramie Project” streaming on the department’s web page this week, from April 8-11.