Something to see: Improvaganza X – Hawaii Festival of Improv

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Photo by Tracy ChanThe 10th Annual Improvaganza: Hawaii Festival of Improv kicked off Thursday at The ARTS at Marks Garage with a sold-out showcase, featuring four performers and troupes who had the audience laughing til their faces hurt. Like last year, this year’s festival is a joint effort at multiple venues, headed up by Garrick Paikai of Hawaii’s On the Spot Improv.

Improvaganza is a three-day celebration of improv comedy and improvised theater, with 15 groups from all over the world performing their signature shows. The roster includes improvisers from Honolulu, Kihei, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Auckland, New Zealand.

The beauty of improv is that each show is always going to be different, so if you have a favorite performer, try to catch all their shows.

10th Annual Improvaganza: Hawaii Festival of Improv
The ARTS at Marks Garage & Kumu Kahua Theatre
Thursday, Sept. 24-Sunday, Sept. 27
Tickets & more info: http://www.improvaganza.com

Here are some highlights of the Opening Ceremony show with Chocolate Rice (ImprovHI) doing a fun series of gender-swapping improv skits; I Am the Show, aka solo performer Chris George, who narrates movies in the style of MST3K; fantastic New Zealand troupe Improv Bandits, who are as musically talented as they are quick-witted; and Screwbuki, an improv Japanese Kabuki theater spoof made up of local performers.

Photo by Tracy Chan

Local troupe Chocolate Rice kicked things off, with a “boys will be girls, girls will be boys” twist that experimented with a number of different relationship scenarios having to do with the audience suggestions of “sex” and “money.”

 

Photo by Tracy Chan

Chocolate Rice. Sometimes it’s best not to ask…

 

Photo by Tracy Chan

Meet Chris George, aka I Am the Show, from San Diego. He starts by making audience members pick a movie, which he then narrates with excellent timing, special effects and his own often hilarious dialogue, proving that the pop culture brain is a mighty thing indeed.

 

Photo by Tracy Chan

New Zealand act Improv Bandits were absolutely brilliant, and one of the can’t-miss performers this year (they’re performing again Saturday night at Kumu Kahua Theatre). From song and dance routines to accents and impressions to round-robin stories to ridiculous but perfectly executed skits, these four incredibly talented masters of the craft nailed it every time.

 

Photo by Tracy Chan

When asked for something exciting or happy that had happened in their lives, one audience member responded “My dog had puppies!” You can tell where it went from there…

 

Photo by Tracy Chan

Improv Bandits shake their booties with a member of the audience.

 

Photo by Tracy Chan

Improv Bandits take a bow.

 

Photo by Tracy Chan

Every seat was taken Thursday night.

 

Photo by Tracy Chan

A pleasant surprise at this show was Screwbuki, a parody of traditional Japanese Kabuki theater. All the typecast roles of kabuki were present, but often the actors broke the fourth wall, eliciting more laughs from the audience. Screwbuki, a spinoff of Loose Screws, Hawaii’s longest-running improv theater company, has received the “The Compass: Innovation in Improvisation award at the Chicago Improv Festival in 2006 and performed at several venues around the country.

 

Photo by Tracy Chan

Screwbuki.

 

Photo by Tracy Chan

Screwbuki.

 

Photo by Tracy Chan

Screwbuki takes a bow.

 

Photo by Tracy Chan

Matte imashita! Screwbuki pauses for a picture at the end of the night.

 
Here’s the schedule for the rest of the weekend:

Friday, Sept. 25 – 7:30 p.m. @ ARTS at Marks Garage
Double Improv Rainbows (Manoa)
Commedia Dell’Arte (Honolulu)

Friday, Sept. 25 – 7:30 p.m. @ Kumu Kahua Theatre
I Am The Show (San Diego)
The Five Deadly Improvisers (San Francisco)

Friday, Sept. 25 – 9 p.m. @ ARTS at Marks Garage
Think Fast (Honolulu)
Shades of Grey (San Francisco)

Friday, Sept. 25 -9 p.m. @ Kumu Kahua Theatre
Free Range Comedy (Kihei – Maui, HI)
Tall Grande Venti (Los Angeles, CA)

Friday, Sept. 25 – 10:30 pm @ ARTS at Marks Garage
It’s Not Wolves (Honolulu)
Collyard / Nelson (Minneapolis)

Friday, Sept. 25 -10:30 p.m. @ Kumu Kahua Theatre
ImprovHI (Honolulu)
Salmon Shane (Phoenix)

Saturday, Sept. 26 – 7:30 pm @ ARTS AT MARKS GARAGE
Tall Grande Venti (Los Angeles)
Commedia Dell’Arte (Honolulu)

Saturday, Sept. 26- 7:30 p.m. @ Kumu Kahua Theatre
Double Rainbows (Manoa)
Improv Bandits (Auckland, New Zealand)

Saturday, Sept, 26 – 9 p.m. @ ARTS at Marks Garage
In Yo Face (Honolulu)
Salmon Shane (Phoenix)

Saturday, Sept. 26 – 9 p.m. @ Kumu Kahua Theatre
It’s Not Wolves (Honolulu)
Shades of Grey (San Francisco)

Saturday, Sept. 26 – 10:30 p.m. @ ARTS at Marks Garage
Five Deadly Improvisers (San Francisco)
Screwbuki (Honolulu)

Saturday, Sept. 26- 10:30 p.m. @ Kumu Kahua Theatre
Collyard / Nelson (Minneapolis)
Think Fast (Honolulu)

Sunday September 27 – 7 p.m. @ ARTS at Marks Garage
Closing Ceremony/The Mash Up