Improv comedy is all the rage right now in Austin. So great, in fact, is the growing popularity of improvised theatre in Austin that a recent KLRU Arts in Context episode noted that the citywide movement is turning heads all across the nation.
As is usually the case, when the arts are thriving in a community, we all benefit. A wonderful byproduct of our burgeoning improv scene has been the increase in local offerings of quality kid-friendly comedy. These days, Austin families can enjoy a variety of G-rated improvised shows, performed for all-age audiences by fun-loving adult actors.
Two local troupes are particularly passionate about sharing this theatrical art form with our city’s littlest theatregoers. Move Your Tale specializes in using kid oriented improv shows as a vehicle for creative storytelling and Flying Theater Machine gets families laughing together, one silly, interactive show a time.
Move Your Tale
Saturday mornings at 10 a.m., Move Your Tale welcomes kids to the intimate performance space at ColdTowne Theater for a fully improvised theatrical journey called What’s the Story Steve? A five-person comedy team joins one clever poodle named Steve for 45 minutes of audience directed tomfoolery.
Upon arrival at the theatre, young audience members are invited to write a word or draw a picture, which may later be incorporated into the show. When we last attended What’s the Story Steve?, my son’s picture of an apple was selected mid-show and became the theme for a fictional onstage investigation led by actors calling themselves “The League of Extraordinary Improvisers.” During the course of their investigation, it was revealed that Steve, the dog villain, was stealing apples to make delicious dog food.
At several points throughout What’s the Story Steve?, kids are called upon to make suggestions and every answer is worked into the story. No idea is too absurd. In fact, the wackier the plot becomes, the louder the young audience giggles.
Flying Theater Machine
Sunday afternoons at The Hideout on Congress Avenue, families are invited to the theatre to see a nine-person improv troupe perform fast-paced interactive comedy. Rather than long-form tales, Flying Theater Machine opts for rapid-fire improv games and shorter snippets of stories. This format provides ample opportunities for audience members to holler out suggestions and even hop up on stage to become a part of the action.
On a recent visit to see the Flying Theater Machine show Fairly Silly Fairy Tales, we saw Jack and the Beanstalk performed in 3 seconds, we watched a unique rendition of Snow White called The Cheerful Salesman and the Seven Dragons, and we even helped to create a brand new fairy tale about two horses who loved to play video games.
My son was hooked on improv from the first show we attended, where we witnessed Rapunzel’s prince picking his nose to create a mountain of boogers that he could climb up to rescue her from the tower. With kids cooking up ideas for a story, you never know quite what you’re going to get. And that, is the beauty of improv.