Conscious party: Blacklist Improv supports Our VOICE with a night of local comedy

THINK FAST: Improvisational comedy is a team-oriented, communal art form, "because the audience is in it together with you. They're not just there to watch you and laugh at jokes that they know are going to happen," says Marlene Thompson of Blacklist Improv. "Everybody in the room is surprised at where it goes." Photo by Alex Baker

WHAT: The Hootenanny comedy show benefiting Our VOICE

WHERE: The Bebe Theatre

WHEN: Wednesday, July 13, at 8 p.m.

WHY: After an encouraging first year in Asheville, Blacklist Improv “wanted to show some love back,” says Marlene Thompson. So, she and her fellow humorists have turned the next installment of their local comedy showcase The Hootenanny into a benefit for Our VOICE, an agency combating sexual violence. And the female focus of that partnership, Thompson says, catalyzed a second project: an all-women improvisational troupe.

“There are a bunch of improv groups that are only male or have the one female, or two,” Thompson says. “We thought it would be great to have an [all-female] improv group.” The lone lady in Blacklist, Thompson developed the idea with Kristen Aldrich of No Regrets Improv, and they recruited two more local comics — Dana Hall of Asheville Improv Collective and Anna Gettles, who co-created a variety show called I’m Proud of You.

Family Dinner Improv, as the four are called collectively, will make its debut as The Hootenanny’s opening act. Two traditional stand-up sets by Minori Hinds and Mallory Denae follow, and Blacklist headlines the show.

“Were breaking from our usual improv format to do what’s called an Armando Diaz,” Thomas says of Blacklist’s set. This iterative performance style calls on a monologist — in this case, a representative from Our VOICE — to guide the theatrics by sharing a quick story, which can be prepared or suggested by the audience.  The comedians improvise several short scenes based on that prompt, and then, the monologist returns to the stage to continue the tale, sometimes riffing off a previous scene. From there, Thompson says, “It sort of snowballs.”

Tickets to The Hootenanny are $7 at the door. Visit facebook.com/blacklistimprov for updates from Blacklist Improv.

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About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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