Try This On For Size

by Jim Russell

Have you ever seen that really funny TV show called “Whose Line Is It, Anyway?” If you haven’t, you may not know how much fun it can be to watch a group of extremely witty and quick thinking actors make up comedy on the spot, with no script, no preparation, and no advance warning of what they might be asked to do on a moment’s notice. It’s called improv comedy, and you can experience it live and in person at Carrollwood Players Theatre every month thanks to our friends from Nine & Numb.

This intrepid group of comedic geniuses is currently appearing at CWP in IMPROV AFTER DARK, a series of late night, adults-only improv shows on select Saturday nights at 11 p.m. For ten bucks (five with a valid student ID), you can go where the wildly funny things are, and have one hell of a time doing it. In fact, their next show is just around the corner, on Saturday, March 22nd.

It’s really hard to not LOVE watching improv comedy, because what you are seeing is a bunch of really silly people making complete fools of themselves on stage for your gratification. Because many of the suggestions for the scenes come from the audience, you, the spectator, get to make the fools do your bidding. Now, who couldn’t love that? And the members of Nine & Numb are a fine-tuned machine when it comes to instantaneously bringing your suggestions to complete full-tilt wackiness. You just have to see it to believe it.

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Nine & Numb calls what they do up on stage ‘games.’ And some of the games you might see Nine & Numb ‘play’ are so funny, well, you might fall off your seat (It actually happened at one of their shows not too long ago. Don’t worry, the injuries were only minor.) Some of the games involve just two or three of the players, and others feature the entire troupe, which can range from six or seven actors up to ten or eleven, depending on the show date.

The one thing that is present in every game is audience participation. YOU, the audience, get asked for suggestions, which the actors have to incorporate into the scene they are about to make up from scratch. You might be asked to suggest a household item, or an occupation, or a non-geographical location, or even a cartoon character or accent. From there, the actors have to take that suggestion and turn it into instant comedy. It is both fascinating and deliriously festive to witness.

One of my favorite games is called “try that on for size.” One of the actors begins by “miming” the movement associated with an everyday task, such as hammering a nail. Then another actor enters and asks the first actor what he or she is doing. The first actor says “I’m hammering a nail.” Next, the second actor has to use the same exact movement, but give it an entirely new explanation. For example, “Well, I’m conducting an orchestra, try that on for size!” And this continues with the entire troupe cycling through elimination style, with new movements each time someone gets eliminated. It can get absolutely crazy when two actors manage to hang on for dear life, and have to think of potentially endless new explanations for that original “hammering a nail” movement!improv

From shows featuring short games like “try that on for size” to full-length improvised comedy spoofs of classic plays like A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life, Nine & Numb has been bringing outrageously fun shenanigans to the Carrollwood stage for the past couple of seasons. If you haven’t been out to see them yet, it’s time. You need a good laugh. We all need a good laugh! These comedy superstars have not only decked our halls with laughter, but they have also donated every single penny raised (to the tune of thousands of dollars) to help support the ongoing programs of our theatre. That ALONE is one heck of a great reason to come out and support Nine & Numb and give them a wild, raucous audience to perform for!

To find out the complete schedule of Saturday Improv After Dark shows, just visit our Facebook page or check out Nine & Numb’s website. I hope to see you at the next show on March 22nd at 11 p.m. I’ll be the guy taking your money!

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