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Amuse Bouche’s Show “But, Is It Art” Brings Laughs to O-Hill

An interview with the Amuse Bouche crew

For students hunting for a good laugh at the University, Amuse Bouche has the performance to lift you out of the mid-semester slump. Their improv show, “But, is it art?”, in Observatory Hill Dining Hall Forum last Friday provided a hilarious start to the weekend. The long form comedy group performed three acts, using audience suggestions to create a truly unpredictable show.

The performance began with a random volunteer from the audience being called to the stage, instructed to briefly describe her relationship with her family. Actors and actresses then used names and situations from the volunteer’s anecdotes, exaggerating the stories and magnifying the situations to the point of absurdity. The show took off from there.

The next scene was set up by the performers themselves. The form focused on the care of an adolescent egg sack by a quirky male and female friend, parodying the concerns of parenting and the difficulties of raising a teenager.

The final form began with a word supplied by the audience: tea-kettle. Without hesitation, the performers launched into a story about grandma-training, knitting together multiple characters and somehow merging into an infomercial about trendy stuffed grandmas, with added bonus features such as laser ray eyes.

The energy and scope of Amuse Bouche’s Friday performance embodies everything entertainment should be. One of the marks of great comedy is when the actors are having just as much fun as the audience watching the show; the Amuse Bouche cast propelled the show forward with unrivaled passion, excitement and intensity, creating a performance without one dull moment.

Amuse Bouche is the only improv group that exclusively performs long form improv.

“Short form has a lot more specific structure,” said second-year College student Drew Kiser, who joined the group last year. “For instance: ‘when you ring this bell, you’re going to become this character’. Short form improv comedy is usually three to five minutes long, but in long form improv we revive characters in the last 15-25 minutes.”

Though riskier than short form improv, where actors can quickly move to the next funny situation if they feel stuck, long term improv allows for more time to develop characters.

“In short form … it’s about going for a joke or going for the gag,” second-year College student Alex Griffith said. “In long form, a lot of times you have to sacrifice the short term joke in order to make sure the characters and plot can progress.”

The show is a testament to the effectiveness of long form improv, proving the value in taking the extra time to develop a joke. Instead of creating the quick spurts of witticisms used in short form comedy, the show delivered laughs throughout the form, getting funnier as the performance progressed.

These jokes, however, would fall short without sufficient practice. To improve their individual skills and cohesion as a team, the group meets for practice every Wednesday and Sunday for two hours each.

“We mainly do drills," said Amuse Bouche President Walter Keady, a fourth-year College student. "Basically, we would impose much more structure than we would ever do in a show on scenes in practice to work on fundamentals. It’s like when you play soccer and practice by dribbling around the cones. We rehearse and do forms we do in a show to kind of get used to what our show will be.”

Despite hours of improv practice, the Amuse Bouche crew still sometimes feel like they’re stuck during a form, unable to come up with spontaneous material.

“It happens to all of us,” third-year College student Casey Anderson said. “But the really awesome and great thing is we are really good friends and we all trust each other. You are not alone, and your scene partner will help you out. … The other person in the scene will have your back, so when you do fumble, they can pick you back up and carry the scene on.”

From mentions of taxidermied grandmas to jokes about moody adolescent egg sacks, Amuse Bouche’s randomness kept the audience shaking with laughter.


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