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Improv show hands out laughs for Halloween

Haunting hollow notes emulated from the speakers and dim lighting created a horror movie atmosphere in Pearson Hall, but the evening provided more treats than tricks.

On Saturday, Oct. 28, Sketched Out Improv put on a improv comedy show, "The Improv of the Lambs." The show title followed the group's play-on-word tradition, this time playing on the classic horror film "Silence of the Lambs."

Despite it being Halloween weekend, the room was crowded -- filled with students, parents, families and even a couple of Miami's service dogs-in-training. One black lab, Nora, adorably exemplified the Halloween spirit in a skeleton costume.

Though most audience members didn't dress in costume, they shared enthusiasm for the evening.

"I like that it gives you an option other than going Uptown and it gets you out of the dorms," sophomore Sarah Kollins said.

The show began with the actors running to the stage as the audience clapped along. For this particular performance, the actors dressed in a wide range of Halloween costumes, adding an amusing twist to their traditional show format.

"I dressed up as Arthur Read," first-year member Dee Dee Sperry said. "It was pretty last minute, but it was fun. I was tempted to whip out my library card, but I didn't know if people would see it from the audience."

Host for the evening, senior Scott Lentz -- dressed as Jughead Jones from the TV show "Riverdale" -- explained the importance of audience participation and general rules for the evening.

The first short-form act involved code words taken from the audience; actors then had to take the word and relate it to a relationship and being dumped.

For instance, Lentz asked the audience to name a fruit and a voice heard above the rest yelled "pomegranate."

Without a moment's hesitation, an actor stepped forward and said, "It's not you, it's me. I think you're taking me for 'granted.'"

Members literally had seconds to formulate a pun that wasn't just relevant, but funny, too.

"They're really creative. This is quality entertainment," audience member and first-year Laura Jacob said.

The short-form improv took a scary turn with a Halloween-themed act called "Spooky Moment" where the audience chose a setting and actors created a realistic scene. The twist was, whenever horror-movie music began to play, the dialogue had to turn creepy.

Going off the location suggestion of Aruba, Sketched Out member Nate Bissinger pretended to be lounging at the beach with friends while fellow member Brandon Fogel played a drink server. Without music playing, the scene carried on normally.

Nate asked for a drink while the server mimed holding a tray. When the music turned on, Brandon immediately pointed to the tray and said ominously, "Please. Take that one." His quick change of tone made the scene even funnier.

After a few more short acts, there was a ten minute intermission.

"We focus both on short-form and long-form improv," Fogel said. "In short-form, you play to the gimic, whereas in long-form you have to focus more on the relationships and the truth."

The second half was composed of a few long-form acts, the funniest titled "Nightmare." Lentz selected a random person from the audience and asked her to talk about her day, major and character traits.

The girl discussed getting up early for a club run meet, getting a sandwich, a funny moment where a kid on her bus ate a napkin and her biggest fear: making decisions.

The Sketched Out cast listened attentively to the details and then staged her "nightmare" with Nate playing the girl.

They began by saying she was late to the meet, had missed the bus and would have to run in the freezing cold just to get there. When she tried to move, it was in slow motion. When she went to buy a sandwich but couldn't choose which one, the cast surrounded her, chanting "decide, decide, decide," and the audience laughed for a majority of the scene.

"In improv, the most important thing is listening to each other and I think we did a good job tonight," junior and artistic director Olivia Prosser said. "We did a Halloween twist on both of the shows and the audience seemed to enjoy it."

Scott ended the evening by thanking everyone for coming and announced that their next performances are scheduled for Nov. 9-10.

In typical comedic fashion, Sketched Out handed out laughs instead of tricks or treats for Halloween.