In the spirit of improv comedy, Xpress has decided to frame this article in a way that you, the reader, can participate. Fill in the blanks as directed to create your own wacky article.
It’s a Friday night at Asheville Brewing Company, and the place is bustling with smiling __________ [pl. noun]. Waitstaff weave through the __________ [adj.] crowd, buffeted by alternating waves of laughs and groans. In a corner of the room, flanked by tables filled with __________ [pl. noun], the OxyMorons improv-comedy troupe are busy trying to come up with gags about the “World’s Worst __________ [noun].”
One of the troupe steps up, his face a __________ [adj.] mask. “Hi, I’m __________ [disgraced political figure or celebrity].” The crowd groans and __________ [verb ending in -s]. The joke flopped, and that’s part of the fun.
There are faces in this crowd that have been fans of this __________ [adj.] comedy troupe almost from the start. In a town not known for its comedy acts, that kind of loyalty is hard to come by.
But the last few years have been anything but easy for the OxyMorons. Two years ago, they lost their home theater, AREA:45. They played wherever they could find a __________ [adj.] spot, from __________ [adj.] arts spaces where their regular crowds couldn’t find them, to meat-market bars where the crowds were __________ [adj.] at best. There have been hecklers, haters and __________ [pl. noun]. They’ve dealt with a near-constant turnover of performers, and survived the untimely death of one of their most stalwart members.
And yet the OxyMorons still stand. Until the pratfall, that is.
“The most frustrating thing was when we were floundering, trying to find a home,” says member Sarah Felmet __________ [advb. ending in -ly]. Known for her __________ [adj. ending in -ly] understated style, Felmet is the veteran member of the group, having joined three-and-a-half years ago. “We knew we had something great, it was just finding the right place for it, and the right people who could appreciate it.”
As recently as last year, she says, it looked as though the group was going to fold. And then they ran across the newly opened Asheville Brewing Company downtown, and struck up a __________ [adj.] friendship that would ultimately kick off a series of performances at the space they now __________ [advb. ending in -ly] refer to as the Brew-Co. Sadly, it was during this time that one of their more active members, Seth Olson, died at age 21. While the death dealt a major blow to their morale, there was a silver lining: The troupe had a new home, a new crowd, and a new direction.
And at the Brew-Co, they’ve thrived and __________ [verb ending in -ed].
“It’s become an unstoppable juggernaut of funny,” says a groggy Forrest Livingood during a phone interview, having just woken up from a long night of __________ [verb ending in -ing]. A founding member of the OxyMorons, Livingood and his brother Graham (another co-founder) recently returned to the troupe after a two-year hiatus. Their return was greeted with a unique challenge — playing to a pub crowd.
“I really like performing at the Brew-Co because it’s not a dedicated theater space, and because you do have to win over the audience,” he says. “It’s quite a feeling of accomplishment when people get into it who were just hanging out at the bar and didn’t know that we were going to be performing. That’s how we end up with a lot of our regulars — they just stumble into it.”
But, given the difficulties, why even bother?
“Because I think I’m funny and I like to be on stage,” retorts Livingood, __________ [verb ending in -ing] at his own joke. “I think there’s elements of that in the rest of the troupe. A lot of people have friends who tell them that they are real funny, but sometimes you just want to know for sure.”
Still, what about the inevitable failures of gags that bomb — or worse — __________ [verb]?
“Every once in a while, you’ll throw the wrong joke to the wrong audience, and things fall flat,” answers Livingood, recalling a time he made a __________ [adj.] joke about __________ [famous figure], and the crowd didn’t exactly go for it. “But, that’s the hilarious part about improv — it’s fun to watch bad things happen to other people. Failure is hilarious!”
Does that mean there are no depths to which the OxyMorons won’t sink for a laugh? Would they even __________ [verb] to get a giggle? After a pause, Livingood responds that plenty of things — cannibalism, incest, Hitler, murder and __________ [noun] — can “be pretty funny in the right light.”
Now on the verge of their four-year anniversary, the troupe is looking forward to a new era of laughs and __________ [pl. noun].
“Asheville right now is really known for its live music … [but] we would really love to be synonymous with [its] improv comedy,” says Graham Livingood, who’s inclined to academic, political and _______ [adj.] humor. Although he lives in a __________ [noun] in Haywood County, he has become one of the group’s main organizers.
He says the team is also looking toward the future with __________ [adj.] minds, and is hoping to expand their reach into teaching classes and performing at private events. With luck, the OxyMorons will happily __________ [verb] for another four years.
And what about their four-year-anniversary show? In true improv spirit, the team hasn’t quite worked out what it’ll be, how it’ll work, who will be able to show up, or what it is, exactly, that they’ll do when they get there. But there will be __________ [pl. noun].
[Steve Shanafelt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
The OxyMorons’ fourth-anniversary show happens at 9:30 p.m. Friday, July 7 at Asheville Brewing Company downtown (77 Coxe Ave). Free. Call 255-4077 or see oxymoronsnc.com.