On Saturday, March 20, James Madison University’s Improv Club traveled down I-81 to “duke” it out with Radford University’s Improv Club at the first-ever Improv Competition. The hour-long competition took place in Porterfield Hall’s Studio Theater in front of a jam-packed audience of around 80.
The event kicked-off at 8:15 pm when House Manager Katie Beliveu introduced Improv Club President Eric Temple, who served as the “referee” and went over the rules of the night. According to Temple, the audience would determine the winner of each round by cheering for the group they liked better. Each round was worth one point, and whoever ended with the most points at the end of the night would be crowned the winner. Temple also made it clear that both teams could use audience members in skits at their disposal, stating that “nobody in the audience is safe.”
The first round consisted of three skits: “Should’a Said,” “Pan Left/Pan Right,” and “Kwaze Kwest.” After a halftime performance by the RU Rockers, and a five-minute intermission, the teams finished up with three more skits called “Space Jump,” “Mission Improbable,” and “Instant Replay.” The competition ended with a tie, after RU won “Pan Left/Pan Right” and “Mission Improbable,” JMU won “Should’a Said” and “Space Jump”, and “Instant Replay” and “Kwaze Kwest” both resulted in ties.
While the overall result was a tie, there’s no doubt that the JMU team was better. Sure, both teams were good in their own respects, but the JMU team just had something that Radford didn’t. JMU was definitely better at thinking on their feet (which at the end of the day is what improv really is) and they were just all around funnier. While RU improved as the night went on, they made a few slips at the beginning of the competition, especially during the Should’a Said skit, where there were a few awkward pauses while they thought up what to say next.
The fact that JMU’s team actually had girls participating really helped them. There are plenty of girls in the Theatre Department, so it was a little disappointing to see there weren’t any representing RU on the Improv Team. Guys and girls don’t always share the same sense of humor, so it was refreshing to see the different genders play off of each other. Some of the girls on the JMU team were even funnier than the guys, especially when they did their “manly” impressions (which is far more hilarious than boys doing “girly” impressions).
As cheesy as it sounds, everyone was very welcoming to the JMU team. When the RU team first entered the studio, there was an overwhelming amount of cheering, leading me to think RU would win, hands-down.
Sophomore Adam Taylor expressed the group’s general sentiment when he said, “I’m just going to vote for the team who performs the best,” during intermission.
Not only did the audience vote for JMU when they did a better job, but they also respected them the entire time, never booing or taunting them.
Overall, the night was extremely entertaining. The evening ran surprisingly well, considering it was the first competition the Improv Club has held. Hopefully the next one (which may include even more teams, including Christopher Newport University, The University of Virginia and Virginia Tech) turns out just as well.
Cover and story photo by Arielle Retting