To all the freshmen at UCSB, if the name “Improvability” sounds familiar, there’s a high probability that you’ve seen their advertisement on The Flush. There’s also a probability that you overheard some random girl gushing about how hilarious their show on Friday was in your Monday lecture class. I was probably that girl.
Improvability’s Friday night show was witty, comedic gold. It’s even more impressive that all their material is come up with on the spot. After watching the show, I felt as if someone had injected something in my bloodstream that made me stay in an extremely good mood for the rest of the weekend.
On Sunday, my interview with the 12 entertaining members of Improvability was just like their show: exciting, entertaining and fun.
The 12 members currently include: Lorcan McGrath, Shelby Geitner, Brittany Ragan, Mel Weisberger, Madeline Blair, Matt Meyer, Mason Sperling, Ian Davis, Leah Hardin, Jake Picker, Michael Calmis and Varrick Weir.
Each member answered with ease and unique humor, reminding me again why they were so awesome to watch on stage.
Q: What is improvability and what do you guys do?
McGrath: So, Improvability is a group of people, oh boy. We’re an improv group, we do improvised comedy. We do shows every Friday night at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. at Embarcadero Hall. All the comedy is made up on the spot and is not prepared at all. It has been running for 10 years.
Meyer: The way we interact with the audience is to get suggestions from them so it’s organic.
Q: What are your rehearsals like? Ragan: We have practice from 2-5 p.m. every Sunday. Usually there’s a lot of goofing off in the beginning.
Hardin (jokingly): Not really anymore. We used to have fun.
Ragan: We are better organized [now]. Our practices are used to build our skills in improve, like a sports team. We usually start by warming up with fun games. They get you energized and focused in coming up with things quickly. We play short form games, which has more of a structure and longform, which has a longer narrative. Sometimes, we just do group scenes.
Q: How do you handle a situation when you can’t come up with something on stage?
Weisberger: What I like about being in an improv team is that not all the pressure falls on a single person, because it’s such a team sport. It’s one of those things where you can be comfortable knowing that one of your teammates can back you up no matter what. I feel like because we’re such a close-knit team, we never run into the problem of feeling abandoned on stage.
Davis: It’s also like, you’re the funniest when you’re hanging out on the couch with your friends. So we try to get closer to where we can get to the audience feeling like that. Like if you’re at the bar with your buddies, you don’t have notes for what you’re going to say, you’re never at a loss for what you’re gonna tell them. So we try to go for those moments in our show.
Q: Do you think improv is a practiced skill or do you think it’s a natural talent?
Meyer: I think it’s definitely practiced. We make improvements on a quarterly, or monthly, or even weekly basis. There are a lot of techniques in improve and there are specific ways that you’re supposed to go about making a scene and making things work. I think we always get better.
Q: What advice do you have for someone who wants to go into improv, or comedy in general?
Davis: They should be doing a lot of it. They should have as much stage time as they can. They should be going to Isla Vista to do stand up, open mics nights [at] Coffee Collab. The point is to do it over and over again to get better.
Improvability has shows every Friday night at 8pm and 10pm for $3 at Embarcadero Hall.