Improv show brings raucous laughs to White River Junction

By RAY COUTURE

Valley News Correspondent

Published: 02-04-2023 10:54 PM

As the temperature outside the Gates Briggs Building dipped deeper into the negatives Friday night, members of Valley Improv looked to get their audience’s blood pumping with a performance of Disney’s Frozen in three minutes or less.

The improvisational comedy troupe rushed through the plot of the two-hour film, some members singing a seconds-long version of Do You Want to Build a Snowman? while others pretended to be various characters, albeit with comical inaccuracies: “I’m a big guardian snowman, MOVE!” said one troupe member, pretending to push away other members from the stage, garnering a big laugh from an audience of about 20 people inside the Junction Arts & Media stageroom.

Hosted by JAM, a media platform built up from the cable access channel formerly known as CATV, Valley Improv’s performance, which was free and open to the public, was part of White River Junction’s First Friday festivities, with the overarching theme of “radical love” at the forefront of the event’s proceedings. Audience members were asked to shout out the first thing that came to mind when they thought of that term, and the theme felt interwoven throughout the night as the troupe performed different comedic sketches based on audience feedback.

One such sketch saw two troupe members pretend to be quarreling lovers arguing about their individual passion — and dispassion — for cheese while two members of the audience controlled their body movements from behind.

“It’s so terrible that you get so upset about your cheese,” one member of the troupe said to the other.

“It’s not my cheese,” they anxiously replied. “It’s your cheese, it’s our cheese.”

Dairy’s effects on a loving relationship came up again later in the event, when an audience participant, in an interview-style sketch on what made them think about love. The audience member, JAM employee Cedar O’Dowd, said they and their partner were both lactose-intolerant, but that didn’t get in the way of nighttime snacking.

“We’re both really accepting of each other,” said the audience member, a JAM employee Cedar O’Dowd. “Sometimes we both eat cheese and sit in bed and fart.”

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That sketch left a profound impression on audience member Henry Rosario, of Tunbridge, who attended the show with his wife, Lauren Mabie. Rosario said he and Mabie both love comedy and were inspired to attend the show because one of their co-workers was a member of Valley Improv.

They came away from the show entertained — Rosario had even gone up onto the stage at one point to take part in the sketch where audience members controlled the troupe’s body movements — and were impressed by some of the sketch ideas.

“Some of the skits felt like they could’ve been great TV shows,” Rosario said.

So maybe viewers can expect more cheese, love, Frozen, a shy Beyonce or a Winnie the Pooh who hated honey on a JAM broadcast soon.

Ray Couture can be contacted with questions or story ideas at 1994rbc@gmail.com.

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