Arts

U of O improv team to compete at Cracking up the Capital comedy festival

 Photo courtesy of Kristine Shadid

It takes a special kind of performer to work without prep time and the pressure of having no idea what’s going to happen until it’s happening. The University of Ottawa improv team handles this pressure all the time.

After snatching up two victories last year at the University of Toronto summit and the Cracking Up the Capital comedy festival, the competitive improv team Mission Improvable, or MI-6, is looking forward to this year’s events with great anticipation.

“It’s a little different this year because last time what attracted most of the audience was Colin Mochrie,” said vp external of the team, Kristine Shadid. “It was extremely surreal, but now I know how it works and I’m not pinching myself anymore.”

This year will mark the 10th Cracking Up the Capital comedy festival, hosted by comedy legend and former Red Green Show star Patrick McKenna. It’s the team’s biggest show of the year, giving them the chance to perform alongside accomplished Canadian comedians and enjoy a little friendly competition with Carleton University.

Last year was their first time performing at the U of T summit. The team hoped to duplicate their win this year, but returned home without the trophy.

However, they didn’t return home with regrets. The team delivered a performance that kept the crowd in stitches from beginning to end. The loss also hasn’t affected their excitement at the prospect of setting foot on stage at the festival on Feb. 6.

“We’ve started jamming with the Carleton improv team to get ready for both nights,” said vp coordinator of the team, Hayley Robateau. “Even though we’re competing against each other, we’re also really good friends with them.”

Working together is part of what makes improv unique as a performance art and requires a type of group dynamic more often found in sports than in an arts setting.

“Unlike doing a play, you develop a special kind of trust with your teammates,” said Paul Piekoszewski, who has only been a member of the team for a short period of time. “In a play, you trust them to deliver their lines and do everything the way you planned it, whereas in improv you have to trust them to work with you on the same wavelength.”

Between epic on-stage rap battles, winning obscure awards like Best Surreptitious Boob-Sniff, and sharing inside jokes after long trips, the team has a strong bond and they’re ready to keep competing and performing this semester.

The team holds weekly jam sessions on Tuesdays from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the Jock Turcot University Centre clubroom and their next performance is Feb. 1 at Pier 21 in the ByWard Market at 7:30 p.m.

Cracking up the Capital takes place Feb. 5–8 with events at the National Gallery of Canada, Algonquin College, and the National Arts Centre. The U of O and Carleton teams will compete on Feb. 6 in the Algonquin Commons Theatre at 8 p.m.