The brevity and wit of Twitter meets the “yes, and” enthusiasm of improv. It would seem like a match made in heaven. The idea of real time tweets dictating sketches drew me to opening night of #YEGprov at the Fringe. It turns out my expectations were a bit lofty.
Don’t get me wrong: the #YEGprov troupe was funny. A number of the players are obviously seasoned and trained in improv. The group dynamic was fabulous; the audience could tell that the troupe enjoyed performing together (the players were breaking and laughing as much as the audience, which is what I adore about live comedy). And considering that improv is often dependent on the enthusiasm of a large audience, the #YEGprov team proved their mettle by performing so well with such a small Thursday night crowd.
Nevertheless, the use of Twitter- the element that’s supposed to set the show apart- left something to be desired. Instead of displaying the live feed of tweets containing the #YEGprov hashtag, there was a moderator who privately reviewed tweets coming in and revealed only those she found funniest in a word doc up on the screen. Adding to this moderation was the time delay- the host would ask for tweets on a subject for a sketch that wouldn’t be happening for another 10 or 15 minutes. It all added up to more rigidity than your traditional yelling-at-the-stage improv show. In the end, some of the best suggestions of the night came people calling out from the audience.
To their credit, #YEGprov is in uncharted water with the Twitter concept. And sometimes it did work (the use of audience-submitted photos was hilarious and is something beyond the limits of traditional improv). Still, the current moderation means that #YEGprov isn’t taking full advantage of Twitter, but instead reduces it to a novelty. So if you’re a fan of improv, go to the show for the talented players and think of the Twitter components as a nice added touch.
#YEGprov will be playing at the Knox Metropolitan United Church until Saturday, August 25. Find tickets here.