La-Z-Boy murder, refrigerated placentas, and lady Canadians: that's just a sample of what you can expect from the three groups in this improv marathon. And there's no running involved. Now that's our kind of marathon.
This all-lady Toronto-based troupe starring Mandy Sellers, Adrianne Gagnon, and Erin Goldsmith begins every show with an audience suggestion of a location, and the action takes off from there. "It started as an inside joke," says Sellers. "We all met in Chicago at the iO Theatre's Summer Intensive, and there was this one gentleman in the class who would always name-drop — everything was 'In New York, where I'm from,' or 'Where I live, in New York ....' And that just became the format for our show."
And despite all the talk about the difficulties of being female in comedy, having an all-girl group has its benefits. For one thing, the members of We're From Here consistently get to disprove those sexist weirdos who persist in believing that woman aren't funny. "Here we are, we're three girls, and we're funny," Gagnon says. "People are paying attention to that." Plus, their brainstorming sessions are not only opportunities to get funnier. "Our group doubles as a therapy session," Sellers jokes. "The boys [in other groups] will cry too, but they're weirder about it."
FOUR is a four-person improv group that focuses on deeper character work and longer scenes. Hailing from Carrboro, N.C.'s DSI Comedy Theater, FOUR's question for the audience is always, "Besides sex or money, what is one thing couples argue about?" "The suggestions have ranged from furniture to who mows the lawn to private schools," says FOUR's Paula Pazderka. The group performs 25-minute scenes, which allows for exploration of some pretty gritty territory. "If you think about comedy that really makes you laugh it's usually ... touching on something universal," Pazderka says. "We try to spotlight that in the context of family or close friends, which everyone can relate to in some way or another. We definitely touch upon things that are sad or perplexing — but as the saying goes, there is truth in comedy."
The eight members of Airwolf are some of New York's UCB's most seasoned performers, pulled together from various UCB Harold teams. Currently, they hold the coveted designation of a weekend team, which means they can't be moved around or reshuffled, says member Benjamin Rameaka. "We perform every Saturday to sold-out crowds. It's awesome." The group starts each show with the question, "What's the worst living experience you've ever had?"
"Living here, everyone has at least one crazy roommate, insane landlord, or unusual circumstances or housing situation they can share," Rameaka says. The naked roommate makes an appearance now and then, but he's just the tip of the iceberg. "We have had stories of a man who lived with a woman that was impregnated by a U.S. Marine from the Ukraine that she met in her yoga class. After giving birth to her child, she kept her placenta in the refrigerator so that she could eat it later, for health reasons," says Rameaka.
"If there's one recurring theme, it's that a lot of these situations arose from Craigslist. No surprise there."
Fri. Jan. 18, 9 p.m. Sat. Jan. 19, 7:30 p.m. $12.50. Redux Contemporary Art Center