Mosaic / Reviews / Theater / October 28, 2010

‘Blood and Vodka’ improv show returns in 3-D

It is a popularly recited fact that honey draws bees, but a more recent discovery is how quickly blood and vodka draws in college-aged audiences. After packed performances two weeks ago that turned away theater-goers, “Blood and Vodka” returned (in 3-D!) for three more shows this past weekend, again filling the Ford Center for Fine Arts’ Studio Theater.

“I thought that it was great,” junior Anna Casey said. “I think it would be really hard to think on your feet in front of your audience.”

This weekend’s “Blood and Vodka in 3-D”, much like its predecessors two weeks ago, featured short-form improv games as well as a long improv game, with monologues interspersed throughout. The troupe broke from their prior format on Friday night, however, when they extended their alcoholic pallet past vodka and their accents beyond Russian; instead, improvisers performed monologues about other ethnic drinks—sake for instance—in the accent of that drink’s origin—in this case, Japan.

“I think the people that were in it were naturally funny,” Casey said, “and that makes the best improv.”

Yet like most talents that seem natural on the surface, the comedic antics of “Blood and Vodka in 3-D” are the result of rigorous practice.

“It’s an actual discipline,” the troupe’s director/facilitator junior Isaac Miller said. “Improv is based on the theory of ‘Yes-And.’” You always want to agree and add to what has happened.”

“If there was just people being funny on stage,” he said, “that can just devolve into competition and destroy scenes.”

Miller therefore tried to create an atmosphere of camaraderie rather than competition.

“A really good rule of thumb is to make your partner look good,” he said.

In an effort to bring the troupe closer together, Miller said that he “berated” its members into meeting up at parties and for meals—all this in addition to their multiple weekly practices, where Miller attempted to have the troupe “interact in silly outlandish ways that sort of leave no room for reservation.”

And indeed, the members of “Blood and Vodka in 3-D” seem incredibly comfortable with each other, even as they gleefully push on each other’s boundaries. For instance, on Friday night, junior Ben Lee became a sultry half-cat, half-woman, purring and nuzzling fellow cast members in ways endearing, sensual and perverse. One could see Miller’s improv theories at work—Lee, and that particular skit, would not have been half as funny had his fellow cast members tried to out-do him.

“Improv really from the get-go is collaborative,” Miller said. “You have to work together, and if you don’t work well with each other, you’re not suited for it.”

Christopher Poore


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