By Natalie De Paz
You approach the familiar A-frame sign on the Ellsworth sidewalk.
Live Improv Comedy!
Steel City Improv Theater
You’ve walked by many times, and ever since they painted the doorframe blue you’ve been especially intrigued as to what shenanigans go on at Steel City Improv Theater.
Inside, Miguelina greets you warmly, her walkie-talkie hooked to her American Eagle jeans, earpiece in place. She asks if it’s your first time here and offers you the month’s show schedule. You smile and thank her, then turn your attention to the box office.
Sydney smiles at you from behind the counter. She asks how she can help you. You ask for a ticket to the show, order some peanut M&Ms and a soda, and tip generously. Sydney stamps your hand with a smiley face.
You hang out in the lobby, taking in the posters of current SCIT shows and teams. A Kasey Musgraves song is playing from a little blue speaker above the Exit sign. You sit in a brown chair and people-watch a little. Some couples on dates come in, hand in hand. Some performers breeze in and head through the black door into the theater. Some folks sign in at the box office for a stamp, and you gather from their chatter that they are taking improv classes at SCIT once a week. You join the chit chat among the students. They are really pumped for the show, and their excitement is contagious.
Miguelina opens the black door and announces the house is open. She checks your hand stamp and keeps count of how many audience members there are with a silver tally counter that clicks as you walk through the black door.
You walk through the first doorway to the left, the dark blue velvet curtain pushed out of the way. Quinn is in the tech booth setting up. Queen is playing in the theater and you find yourself walking to the front row to the beat under Freddy Mercury’s voice. You sit as close to the center of the front row as possible. You don’t want to miss a thing.
A few minutes later, Quinn’s voice comes through the speakers. “Ladies, gentlemen, and friends beyond the binary, welcome to Steel City Improv Theater!” Quinn reminds everyone to silence cell phones and turn off flash photography, and to tag the theater in social media posts (@steelcityimprovtheater).
Quinn announces the host of the show. The host is bubbly and silly while welcoming you and the rest of the crowd, warming you up to yell out your genius improv suggestion.
The first team comes out and you yell your suggestion when prompted. Some other lucky audience member was a little quicker, though, and the set is based on their suggestion instead. You don’t mind. You wonder where the team will take the suggestion.
Forty-five minutes and two hilarious improv sets later, your face hurts from smiling and belly-laughing. The teams took their scenes to so many brilliant places, it blows your mind.
The teams come back onstage, hold hands, and take a bow. They clap along to the music and the host thanks you for coming out. You can’t get over how much of a blast everyone on stage is having.
You float out of the theater, down the ramp outside, back onto the Ellsworth sidewalk. You take the stairs up to Highland for a late-night snack and decide you’re going to start taking improv classes at SCIT. You’ve always wanted to try your hand at improv.
To be continued…