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Elks ventures beyond movies with improv troupe performance

Posted 10/1/13

 It might seem like a humble show at first: A troupe of five traveling improvisational comedians standing on the floor of Middletown’s Elks Theatre with stools as their only props, acting like clueless tourists and donkeys to elicit laughs …

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Elks ventures beyond movies with improv troupe performance


Audience members were intrigued to see one of Middletown’s oldest landmarks used for a new purpose.

“I think it’s exciting that the theater’s going to be used for some other things,” said attendee Mary Bigelow, a Middletown resident. “We’re expecting to laugh.”

improvtroupe10 2 13 webPhoto by Daniel Walmer High Fructose Improv performs the skit “Human Props,” amusing the audience at Middletown’s Elks Theatre on Tuesday, Sept. 24. Laugh they did, as High Fructose Improv began the show with a skit called “riffing,” or acting out a series of sketches based on an audience prompt. In this case, the prompt was a paintball fight, and the actors were confronted with the problem of clothing stains.

“I think I found a way to solve this paintball problem,” one troupe member deadpanned.  “Let’s fill the paintballs with something that doesn’t stain – like bleach.”

Other skits included “props,” where troupe members acted as the props for a scene, and “marshmallow mania,” which required actors to put a marshmallow in their mouths – without swallowing – every time they made the audience laugh.

The general outline of the skits might remain the same from show to show, but because the performance is created on the spot, it’s a different show every time, said troupe member Steven Laskoske.

“Everything’s made up right off the top of our head,” Laskoske said.

Improv might not be the easiest entertainment market in which to make your mark, but for Laskoske, it’s a passion.

“I really love the free form of it. There’s the free association aspect of it, and the need to develop a really strong character almost instantly,” he said. “There’s not a star. It’s real teamwork, and it has to be. Everyone’s basically doing what they can to support everybody else, and it’s really a powerful feeling right there.”

The Sept. 24 show was the debut feature performance for High Fructose Improv, which describes itself as “more than a little corny” (get it?). Although they have performed street shows in the past, Laskoske described the Elks Theatre show as “diving in headfirst and hoping the water isn’t shallow.”

Still, he said, they were thrilled to debut at the Elks, a “beautiful venue” that was the just right size for improvisational comedy.

“If there was a place I’d want to do an improv show, that’s the one I’d want,” he said.

Now, with their first show under their belts – and with no tomatoes thrown – they’ll be planning their future the way they know best:  making it up as they go along.

“We are looking for this to be a leadoff to our next project,” he said. “Right now, we don’t know what that next project is going to be.”

But if Laskoske has anything to do with it, the future is bound to be entertaining for both High Fructose Improv and the Elks.

Daniel Walmer: 717-944-4628, or danielwalmer@pressandjournal.com