Jon Verral found his comedic calling in a Craigslist ad.
The Concordia theatre graduate was looking to get involved in improv when he found the On The Spot improv troupe, who are currently looking for a new member.
Started in 1990, On The Spot has made a name for itself in Montreal’s improv scene. They’ve also toured the world, winning improv tournaments on three different continents. The troupe has eight dedicated members, two of whom are Concordia students.
In order to pick the right performer to add to the troupe, they put candidates through a challenging and nerve-racking audition: a series of a series of non-stop improvisations in front of an audience. Ultimately, it is the audience and the troupe’s votes that decide who moves on in the competition and makes it to the the final round on Oct. 27.
The competition began Sept. 29 at Comedy Works.
The contestants names were not used, instead they were numbered as if they were in a spelling bee. “They are all conveniently numbered to feel dehumanized,” On The Spot member Terrance Bowman joked.
Verral doesn’t see the show as a competition. “You’re really competing with yourself because we all have to work together in the improv,” he said.
Every skit performed in the show has interaction with the audience.
In the first skit, entitled DIE!, participants are expected to mime a motion or an action and continuously come up with a different way of conveying the motion or action. Each time the participant says what he/she is doing, the line “try that on for size” must be added. If a participant choked or said something that wasn’t entertaining, the crowd would yell DIE! and another participant would take the stage.
Paula Davis, a member of On The Spot for two years, began by asking the audience to name an instrument. Flute was yelled out. Angie, number two, started off by mocking the motion of playing with a flute and said “I’m playing a flute, try that on for size.” Nicky, number one, continued the motion of playing the flute, but changed her action. Nicky said “I’m playing with Andre the Giant’s balls, try that on for size.” The crowd burst into laughter. Angie didn’t think of a comeback fast enough and the crowd yelled DIE!, forcing Angie off the stage and replacing her with Verral, number four.
Davis found the next topic by asking the crowd what they do during their free time, besides masturbating. Hallucinate was yelled out, and so continued the DIE! skit. Both Verral and Nicky acted as if they were spaced out, by shaking and twitching. After a battle of witty comments, Verral won by saying ” I’m being Stevie Wonder on a really high piano, try that on for size.”
In one particular skit, Davis asked the audience to name some favourite movie lines, like the Lord of the Rings classic “You shall not pass,” and she wrote them on a paper. During the skit, the participants talked to each other and every so often, bent down to pick up a paper and then incorporated the movie quote into their sentence. There were four winners that night including Verral and Nicky. The winners will be competing in the final round on Oct. 27.
The On The Spot improv competition continues every Tuesday night until Oct. 27 at The Comedy Works.
For more info check out: www.onthespotimprov.ca