Spontaneous Combustion


To celebrate Baltimore Improv Group’s big move to the Mercury Theater (formerly the Strand), we asked BIG artistic/executive director Michael Harris to share some fun facts about the theater company. Then we invited four BIG performers to throw out random nouns, verbs and adjectives (a la “Mad Libs”) to liven up the story. (Just look for the underlined words to see what they contributed.) In short: Hijinks ensue.

After 10 years, we’re getting rid of our Gypsy shoes and moving into our permanent home on the planet Jupiter. That means, starting this fall, we can commit to performing every Friday and Saturday night. Hooray! The size of our company has grown to somewhere between 14.5 and 3,879,247 people—or roughly the size of President John Adams’ booty, depending on how many peppadew he eats a day. We’re basically one big, happy douche canoe.

If you’ve never seen improv show, here’s the deal: We ask the audience to suggest a theme, character or setting—then we use those details to create a totally unscripted play for them on the spot. Sometimes the best scenes come from the simplest suggestions, like how to marry a unicorn or play shuffleboard. The worst suggestion we’ve ever received came from a bachelorette party. No matter what we asked for, they just kept yelling the word SODOMY! (OK, that’s actually true.) We all have different day jobs, including chimney sweeps, bikini inspectors, pooper scoopers and nostril trimmers. (Not the hair, the actual nostrils. Some people just have too much hole.) We also have a few lawyers, accountants, web designers and waiters (i.e., stand-up comedians).

We perform more than 90 shows a year. If you ask us why we do improv, most of our performers will say something like, “I’m fulfilling a desperate need for attention that was not adequately satisfied in childhood.” (Actual answer.) But, to be honest, we also do it for the sex, since so many of our fans are single. The rest of the time, we like to sit around thinking about taxes, the state of our immigration policy and falling into the sky when gravity stops working.

Here’s the scoop on the people in this photo. Michael Harris is a complete totalitarian who has a pet octopus and refuses to stop singing “I Think I’m Gonna Like it Here” by Little Orphan Annie since we moved into our new digs. Bridget Cavaiola can best be described as ebullient. (Go ahead, “Google” it, we’ll wait.) She’s also our education director. Yes, adults and kids can take classes with us—and we even just added an improv workshop to help folks dealing with social anxiety.

Heather Moyer, who handles our publicity, is a great mom with a unique talent: shooting milk out of her eyeballs. Katie Long believes she’s the secret love child of Rick Moranis and Madeleine Albright. Can’t you see the resemblance? And then, of course, there’s Rasheed Green—a self-proclaimed diva who has been known to walk offstage shouting, “I don’t need this nonsense! Be in my dressing room in five minutes with a freshly poured ginger ale.” Come check out a BIG performance soon, including “The Movement,” a fun collaboration with The Collective dance company, on Oct. 10 at the BMA. bigimprov.org

>>Read the actual interview here: “OFF THE CUFF: Michael Harris”.

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