â€œOur five senses are incomplete without the sixth — a sense of humor.â€
Improvisational comedy, the art of the seemingly spontaneous performance in front of a live audience or on screen, might well have its origins in sixteenth century Italy, but the rich and varied history of this craft in recent American culture is arguably among the finest in the world, if not the best.
Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and the Marx Brothers are just a few of the major Hollywood stars who used this style in their approach to acting to transform the silver screen in its pioneering days. Television has also used improvisation to great effect in shows like â€œSaturday Night Live,â€ â€œMad TVâ€ and â€œWhose Line Is It Anyway,â€ while veteran talk show hosts like Johnny Carson, David Letterman and Jay Leno would have been totally lost without it.
On September 18th, 2009, the sketch comedy group, Think Pound, performed their interpretation of the ad-lib, a-laugh-a-minute style of comedy at the Peoples Improve Theatre (The PIT) in New York City. The group, led by co-founder and writer, Matthew Zellman, also featured Kerrie Bond, Josh Burstein, Tyrus Cukavac, Michael Rehse and Jaclyn Silvestri.
The audience, numbering less than 20, had in about an hour, enjoyed more belly laughs than one might have in almost two hours of the latest romantic comedy or even what passes for network TV sitcoms nowadays, with their stale and formulaic writing, all for only $10.
Sketches like the smoking and murdering little girl who copies the actions of the actors she sees in the movies, prompting a couple of good Samaritans to rid the movies of all its vices, only to find every movie a sequel to â€œMy Big Fat Greek Wedding,â€ are a barrel of laughs, to put it mildly.
Or, the scene in a burrito restaurant, where a customer puts a burrito on a pedestal because he finds its taste â€œawesomeâ€ and loses his mind when someone takes a bite out of it had the viewers in splits.
If irony is more your cup of tea, then the sketch of the obnoxious cell phone user should be right up your alley. In an ill-fated attempt to find a place of solitude, the cell phone user gets himself arrested and finds that the virtual bars on his phone have disappeared behind the real bars of his cell and he is finally all alone.
To describe the groupâ€™s humor as warped and completely twisted might well be the understatement of the year, but the wit, sense of irony and considerable sarcasm in all the sketches clearly demonstrates the intelligence behind every word in their arsenal of tomfoolery.
The speed and physical style of the actors in performing the half a dozen or so sketches, without missing a beat or losing the essence of the material, is impressive indeed and shows the range and significant skills of all the performers.
It would not take a comedic genius to see and say that the performers of Think Pound have the necessary ingredients and considerable moxie to not only survive, but also thrive in the cut-throat world of improvisational sketch comedy.
They can certainly blame the audience for that conclusion.
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