“Since debuting on December 4, 2009, OKC Improv has entertained nearly 3,000 people at 91 shows (half of which were sold out) with over 40 different acts from OKC, Stillwater, Tulsa, Dallas, and Austin. As a result of our work, the number of active performance groups in the metro has increased from 5 to 30 over the last 20 months with the promise of more groups and projects to be developed during the course of the next year.
We have taught over 150 classes, graduating 5 sections of Adult Level 1 and Level 2 Classes, 1 section of Level 3, and 8 Middle School Classes. We have also held 2 community jams that provide networking opportunities for area performers in an informal performance atmosphere.” – OKC Improv
When I last interviewed OKC Improv Director Eric Webb in the summer of 2010, I asked him if he thought the Improv scene in Oklahoma City had been steadily growing and if artists could hope to one day make a decent living through their performance art.
In essence I asked him if they would someday be able to quit their day jobs and focus exclusively on their craft.
I remember he paused for a moment of serious consideration.
Then he answered, earnestly, that performers would probably not be able to do that in the near future, but it that the scene was growing.
Now a year later, in OKC.net’s office, Webb had this to say:
“The thing is that Buck and Clint and I have made a conscious choice to stay here in Oklahoma City. I mean, honestly, most people are like ‘Ahhh, I can’t wait to get out of here.’ But over the last ten years this place has grown a lot.
We have an exploding artistic scene in performing arts, visual arts, and in music – we have a lot going on. I mean, it’s no Austin – fine, I get that – but we have had this drive to make it a better place over the last ten years and now it’s tangible.
And it’s exciting to be a part of that growth. In two years we’ve gone from 5 Improv groups to 30 because we gave people a place to perform, started teaching new students, and put the spot light on this art form. And if we went somewhere else we would be a part of an art scene that’s already been established, sure, but that is not as exciting as being the one to help make it happen – to build it from the ground up.”
Webb says Buck and Clint Vrazel have been increasingly successful on their Improv tours throughout the nation as ambassadors of OKC Improv, and that Clint has started teaching enough classes, booking enough private gigs and doing enough promotions that he is confident that he can do it full time very soon.
Webb says, “In another year who knows?”
What does that mean?
Well, in another year OKC Improv may soon open their own theater in Midtown. It’s a very exciting prospect, Webb says, because they will be able to produce more shows, teach more classes, and bring in a wide variety of performing artists. The project is embryonic, but OKC Improv is in the process bringing this baby into being. And the businesses in Midtown have been extremely welcoming and supportive of this new development.
In the meantime Webb urges people to get out to see the last improv show for this run. Students will open both the 8 and 10 p.m. showcases and then, Webb says, some of the best talent on the Improv scene will take the stage. At the 8 p.m. show It’s Momma will be followed by The Ones Your Mother Always Warned You About, and at the 10 p.m. show Red Letters will be followed by Twinprov.
Having seen Twinprov and The Ones Your Mother Warned You About perform, I think Webb’s assessment of talent is spot on. When the Vrazels rap you almost don’t believe they made it all up right then and there, that’s just how good they are. And one of many great things regarding improv is that you’ll have to believe it, because audience participation is an essential to the dynamic.
Each of these different improv groups has a unique approach to performing, but almost all utilize the audience’s participation in some way. Webb says he’s seen these groups put on wacky and funny shows based on a lot of imagination and a few good prompts. With improv you’re guaranteed to never see the same show twice, so if you go be ready to suggest something crazy.
OKC Improv runs its last show for the season on Saturday Oct 1 and tickets are $10.00. They will teach adult Improv classes at Ghostlight Theatre in the interim starting Oct. 22.The next run will begin in November.
For more information visit: http://www.okcimprov.co