In a nation beset by shootings, unemployment and economic uncertainty, Ed Trout figures his comedy is serious business.
“When people are facing hard times, I think it’s really important that they have some laughter and joy,” said Trout, artistic director at Indianapolis’ ComedySportz. “It’s important for all of us at some point to be able to let go. “And I think we really can help with that.”
Trout referred to his teams of comics regularly entertaining crowds in Indianapolis and other sites. Two squads of off-the-cuff comedic actors will perform Friday with the help of a participating audience at “An Evening of
Comedy Improv” at The Commons. The event is a fundraiser for scholarships and more at Ivy Tech Community College-Columbus/Franklin.
Organizers say this event is a change from the college’s past main fundraiser, the Kentucky Derby-style “Run for the Ivy,” with pretend betting and auctions.
“We wanted to try something different,” said Amy Ables, Ivy Tech’s event planner. “And we thought this would be fun and be a way to possibly pull in some new people.”
More than 150 tickets already have been sold, according to Ables. The first hour of the event will include mingling, eating and social time, along with acquainting people with Ivy Tech programs. The second hour will feature the comedic face-off. The final hour also will include food and socializing.
Organizers hope to raise $10,000. Last year’s “Run for the Ivy” raised slightly less than half that, Ables said.
The event is for a 21-and-older crowd because of alcohol. But Trout mentioned the comedy will remain PG and clean. In fact, that’s the role of a humorous referee — to explain the rules to audience members who will provide tasteful comic suggestions to team members to act out spontaneously.
“Because we are presenting this as a ‘sport,’ there are fouls,” Trout said. “And one of them is a brown-bag foul.”
That means, for instance, that an audience member who shouts out an inappropriate or off-color suggestion might be called for a foul — and see a brown paper bag playfully placed over the head. That keeps the material wholesome but still creative, as Trout sees it.
“That’s our protected format,” he said.
Trout rarely sees a comedy team member stumped by an audience member’s whimsical or weird suggestion.
“Very rarely,” he said with a chuckle. “One of the great things about improvising is that there is a whole group of people working with you with everyone from different backgrounds and different strengths to help fill in gaps.”
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