Written February 4th, 2019
Before I volunteered to run lights and sound for CIG (at the Gladstone) on a Monday night instead of going to class. I feel a bit apprehensive about missing class, but the Canadian Improv Games holds a special place in my heart, being what got me into theatre in the first place, and I wanted to see this newest iteration of it. As I understand it, there are relatively few differences between the youth competition and the regular games. The principle difference, the youth part, is that the competitors/performers are in grade 7 and 8 instead of 9 through 12. The scenes are only three minutes long, and that's about all I know in terms of difference.
I'll skip going over the format of CIG too much, but I will say that it's almost always funny, often awkward and silly, and sometimes touching. I'm expecting plenty of awkwardness and silliness from these young whippersnappers, and honestly, I'm looking forward to it.
I was a bit nervous about opping the lights and sound at the same time, in no small part because I've never used an ETC Express before, but upon arriving I learned I'd be running the whole show with submasters, which means I'll be doing less programming and more playing (which is cool). I didn't clarify with Dr. PJK or Guillaume whether it was okay to use a show I'm working on for a blog post, but I figure since I'm not doing any work during the scenes it should be cool.
The performers are very young. I wish that I had done improv at their age.
After Well, there wasn't really much work/play to be done during the show. I got to spam bump on the RGB subs for a few things (refs and teams entering, drumrolls for the What's in the Box!? raffle , and when the winners got confetti dumped on them, but otherwise I mostly just sat and watched. There were a few hectic moments when I had to adjust sound and lighting at roughly the same time and had to run back and forth between the two boards, but again, mostly a pretty easy night.
As far as my role as spectator went, I've compiled a list of my favourite moments, for your pleasure.
There were two Catholic schools in attendance, and both of their teams were happy to express their love of God. My favourite of these moments, because of its bluntness, was two of the players yelling at Charles Darwin about how he's wrong and evolution doesn't make sense. Someone from the audience shouted "amen!", and it was good.
A team received "a wolf" as their ask-for in a character event, and went through the a day in the life of a wolf-like human. He stayed up all night looking at the full moon, fell asleep in class, then got run over chasing cars on his way home. They took him to the hospital, but it was too late, and he died at the end of the scene. I laughed my ass off in the booth.
A mechanic's arm was torn off by a malfunctioning cotton candy machine at a fair. The onlookers ignore her plight and manage to repair the cotton candy machine by pouring some sort of solvent into the machine, then enjoy cotton candy.
One team stands up to cheer for the other teams at the end of every scene. Towards the end of the night, the kid sitting next to them (on another team) starts standing up with them to cheer.
I think all of these moments were examples of the intersection between silliness and awkwardness that I find so charming about the Canadian Improv Games. The three minute scenes weren't a problem for me, and were probably better suited for the younger crowd. I laughed a lot. I did find the ending of the night a bit difficult, as it's hard for me to see the teams place. It's bittersweet seeing the highs and lows of the competitive dynamic, but it's the nature of the beast, I think.