Pennywise, Ms. Frizzle and Guy Fieri stand in a line, eyeing each other up. “Letty, I think you’ve got it!” second-year student Camille Witt said.
Fifth-year student Leticia “Letty” Dornfeld smiled under her orange wig and straightened her solar system dress, as Pennywise and Guy Fieri backed away, preparing to be serenaded. That was her prize for winning IMPROVment’s Halloween Spooktacular costume contest.
“I dress up every year,” Dornfeld said, “IMPROV does a costume contest every year and when I was a [first-year student], I came as Doctor Octopus and placed second or third.”
The costume contest isn’t the only tradition IMPROVment has for its Halloween shows. “One of our traditions is that the [second-year students] always host, so it was me, Ronnie [Taylor], Sarthak [Shah] and Nate [Nagvajara],” Witt said.
The show featured a few games familiar to IMPROVment fans, including a scenario guessing game. In one scenario, Nagvajara is late for work and has to use an unknown reason provided by the audience as an excuse for his boss.
General consensus deemed Nagvajara was late because he was Segwaying to work when a chicken crossed the road, but an old lady eating a bagel saved him (that’s improv for you).
Nagvajara attempted to sneak into work, but his boss, fourth-year student Marin Exler, catches him and accuses him of attending a furry convention because of his Halloween costume, complete with a teddy sweater, ears taped on the hood and a cardboard tail.
He scrambled to explain, taking hints from his co-workers, third-year student Zane Millecchia and fourth-year student and current president of IMPROVment Andy Ogrinc. He tried to guess his mode of transportation as Ogrinc mimes riding a Segway.
“I’m on a Safeway,” Nagvajara exclaimed.
“That’s a grocery store!” Exler scolded, before accusing him of being a furry again.
The night also included a few Halloween-themed games, including a “Good, Bad and Spooky” advice panel, featuring Witt, Ogrinc and Millecchia, respectively. An audience member sought advice on choosing a Halloween costume.
Witt tried to be helpful, explaining that last month, someone told her she looked like Missy from “Big Mouth” and decided to dress up as her for Halloween.
Ogrinc agreed with Witt, but went down a different path. “You kind of look like my ex-wife,” he said. “So you should dress up like a bitch.”
Amid gasps from the audience, Witt put an arm around Ogrinc, who buried his face in her shoulder as he thought about his divorce.
As the “spooky” panelist, Millecchia reminisced about his childhood in the Johnson administration and the growing distrust of the government and nuclear threat, and suggested she try dressing up as something scary, like global warming.
Two cast members were dressed as grapes, with balloons safety pinned onto their shirts. In their last skit featuring the whole cast, whenever a balloon was popped, members had to switch characters, seemingly effortlessly.
“This was my first time seeing an IMPROVment show and I was way beyond impressed,” said third-year student Katelyn Park, who wore a Kim Possible costume (“We share the same initials!”). “They hit all different kinds of comedy styles in creative ways we could all appreciate. It was definitely the highlight of my week!”
It can be the highlight of yours, too. IMPROVment hosts weekly Saturday shows and tHe iDiOt bOx improv jam, a low-pressure improv club hosts biweekly meetings.