I know a lot of people who dreads giving out extemporaneous speeches, more so if it is to be given in front of a large crowd, but I have also encountered a chosen few who thrives on spontaneity! And do you know that there are specific groups existing around the globe for people who have that kind of passion for improvisation? They not only perform in front of an audience but they also make people laugh, teach people how to do and tackle improv, make money out of it and have a smashing good time from it! How cool is that?
SPIT or Silly People's Improve Theater, is our very own premiere improvisational theater group. Having already over a decade of experience on their sleeves of making people laugh, SPIT has been considered as one of the best improv comedy troupes in Asia! Known for their smart brand of comendy, they already had more or less 500 performances in different parts of the globe and had already gained recognition through representing the Philippines in various improv and comedy festivals in other countries.
In partnership with PETA Theater Center, SPIT hosted yet another Improv Festival here in the Philippines. Featuring participating improv groups from major cities from neighboring countries like Hong Kong, Beijing, Taichung, Tokyo, Xiamen and Shanghai, the second installation of the Manila Improv Festival was made possible.
This was actually my first time to watch an improv and I must say that I was blown away by their quick wit and wide knowledge in pop culture and current events!
Zmack is the first act from the line-up that night. Four years running, Zmack pioneered the birth and sustained the growth of improv comedy in Shanghai. They also have a Zmack Comedy School that teaches professional drama and acting classes to individuals who would want to do Improv.
Each group have gimmicks prepared to pump up the crowd and most of their performances are based on audience suggestions, keeping the spontaneity and making the audience an essential part of the show!
The gimmick that I liked best from Zmack is when two of their men wooed a girl from the crowd through a song based on details shared by the girl about her. Obviously, whoever she will choose will be the winner! Trish here, the girl from the crowd, divulged that she likes to read, paint, to be with a funny man and dislikes sports since she falls a lot and cats. She also tutors during her free time and she also wants to be taken on a date in McDonald's.
It was a thigh-slapping moment for me when this man started his song with, "Trish, can you be my happy meal?" and ended it with "Let me get you a visa". Anyway, she did not choose any from the two and has instead chosen the host!
The next act was Plus One (+1) which is known to sometimes feature elements of singing and dancing in their performance. Plus One for me is a funny mix since they are all young and vibrant! Their exposure to both eastern and western lifestyles and cultures seemingly boosted them on their performances!
In this game, Plus One was divided into two groups and in each round the host asked the crowd to throw in a guy's name. Depending on the name agreed upon by the collective, each team will pick a representative who will then throw in a statement, which:
- should be about the chosen name,
- should always start with "I have a friend he's name is (insert name of the person)...", and
- should end with a word that rhymes with the said name.
This is to be done simultaneously, fliptop style until a team could not anymore provide an applicable statement! Example if the name's Jack: they can say "I have a friend, he's name is Jack... he likes to wear anything black!"
They also asked an audience to come to the stage to describe in detail her day up to that moment before she came to the show which they reenacted and tweaked in a way that is less ordinary and more heroic and significant.
Pirates of Tokyo Bay, as you could possibly guess, came all the way from Tokyo and the only bilingual improv comedy group in the Kanto region. I grew a fondness for them since they used a couple of gay lingo, specifically chos and becky, when they introduced their group! So funny!
These girls were asked to come up to the stage to tell them their favorite movie and the main plot for the Pirates to reenact. The two girls opted for "One More Chance" which is a Filipino "dramance" movie of Popoy and Basha, the team-up that every Filipino has rooted for at least once in their life. For those who are not familiar with the movie, I could just probably tell you that it was a heart-wrenching and tear-jerking Filipino romantic movie.
Aside from infusing a spark of gayness into their performance, they reenacted the movie based on the details told by the girls. After which, they reenacted what they just did in 3 minutes, in 1 minute, in 30 seconds, in 17 seconds and, lastly, in 4 seconds which was crazzzyy!
Above is their 4-second reenactment of the movie. It was a total mayhem! These men really know how to work up the crowd! I almost rolled on the floor laughing!
Nelly Furtado best put it when she said that all good things come to an end! I am not encouraging pessimism here but that's what I felt when the last act took their last bow. Awwww. Nonetheless, it was a very well spent 3 hours and Php 400! The Improv Festival just happened a week ago but I am already looking forward for the next instalment.
Should you wish to have a weekly dose of improv performance, SPIT runs weekly 9pm shows at Jill's located in the Fort Strip at the Bonifacio Global City. Just go to their website which I will post below to keep account of their gig schedule!