From the staff of the Lexington Herald-LeaderKentucky.comSubscribe to Heraldleaderphoto.comNews FeedSubscribe to Heraldleaderphoto.comComments

Extra Crispy gets laughs ‘off the cuff’

Click here to purchase a photo

Jonathan Lay is in on the hot seat. The cops circle around him, waiting for the confession like vultures waiting for the last gasp from fallen prey. They want a confession, but in this land far, far from Miranda rights, he’s not sure what he’s accused of.

“You got thirsty,” Marcus Lynn barks.

Lay stammers, “I wanted a Diet Sprite?”

Lynn barrels back, “Well you sure weren’t going to get it from there!”

During the next few minutes, Lay winces and tightens up under the barrage of leading questions until he finally breaks.

“I confess,” Lay says, “I went cow tipping in Wisconsin with Lindsay Lohan.”

That’s only a crime in the world of improv comedy, which is where Lay and his interrogators were.

They are members of Extra Crispy, a nine-member improv troupe that has been performing around Central Kentucky for almost two years. The group’s next show is at Natasha’s Bistro on Thursday night.

The group keeps turning out a crowd because, by definition, every show is different.

“Off the cuff is the best way to describe it,” says Darrin Hensley, a professional stand-up comedian and Extra Crispy member. “You basically get a few quick guidelines: Who are we? Where are we? What are we doing? And you build the scene around that, you build the punch lines, the characters all on the spur of the moment.”

Extra Crispy didn’t actually start that way.

When Michael Crisp, a Georgetown resident, comedian and DJ, co-founded the group in summer 2007, it was more of a sketch comedy troupe, doing scripted bits a la Saturday Night Live.

“Whenever we did shows, if it was half scripted and half improv; even the funniest scripted stuff didn’t get as many laughs as our least rehearsed, roughest improv sketches,” Crisp says.

So, the group became an all-improv operation.

But, wait.


Wasn’t this all supposed to be “off the cuff”?

“Every improv sketch has at least two or three rules that must be followed,” Crisp says.

On Tuesday night, seven members of the troupe gathered at Crisp’s home to work on their quickness and playing within those improv rules.

The rehearsal started with a few warm-up exercises, with the performers shooting around nonsense phrases in a circle and giving one another actions to pantomime, from skiing to grooming nose hairs.

The rehearsal is a time to work tried and true bits but also new pieces, like the “choir of hate.” Sami Allison, 25, who started with improv as a student at Stephens College in Columbia, Mo., brought the bit to the group.

In the routine, each member of the “choir” is assigned stuff to hate by the crowd. In rehearsal, non-performing group members threw out everything from Rush Limbaugh to facial hair to e-mail spam. Then, with Allison conducting them, the performers started and stopped complaining — in a humorous fashion — on cue.

The bit contains one of the group’s favorite elements: audience participation.

“One of the reasons karaoke took off is people relished that opportunity to get up on stage,” Crisp says.

There are a variety of ways to get involved in an Extra Crispy show, from writing phrases on paper for a bit called “blind lines,” in which members of the troupe pick up the paper scraps and keep a story going based on the phrases; to shouting suggestions for the choir of hate; to getting onstage for routines like “moving people,” in which audience members move the actors around and the actors have to make up stories as they are manipulated.

Crisp says the troupe gets its bits from other improv troupes, including the TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway?, and from other groups that members have seen or been part of.

Most members of Extra Crispy, like Allison, had previous improv experience.

Lay recalls auditioning for an improv group on April 1, 2000. “I know,” he says, “I thought, this can’t be real. They’ll say, ‘We’d really like to show you some time shares.’”

Extra Crispy also has benefitted from enthusiastic audience members.

“I saw them and figured, ‘I’m good enough to get in there,’” deadpanned Lynn, the bad cop in the interrogation bit. His day job: pastor of First Christian Church in Versailles.

There are a few essential skills to being an improvisational comic, the group members say, such as being naturally funny and a good listener.

Jeff Beach, a former Herald-Leader business editor, says that listening quality was essential when he joined Extra Crispy.

“I mostly started off trying to get off one-liners,” he said. “But over time, I found it was more about building characters.”

There is another quality that goes hand in hand with the fact that not everything you come up with off the top of your head works.

“You have to be totally willing to fail,” Lynn says.

And you have to be willing to be grilled for crimes like wearing white after Labor Day or tipping cows with Lindsay Lohan, because it can be hilarious.

  • email
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google Bookmarks
  • StumbleUpon
  • Fark
  • NewsVine
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • YahooMyWeb
  • Print


2 Responses to “Extra Crispy gets laughs ‘off the cuff’”
  1. vtvybxhil says:

    Molden is getting attention not just from West Coast schools, but . After a bloody eightyear war waged against the tyranny of ancestral privilege, it is perhaps no surprise that the class consciousness of the colonial era’s “gentry genealogy” became unfashionable among newly minted republicans. c louis vuitton outlet online
    What are the odds?? I don’t know, but it reminds us that if welisten to music while out running, we should at least have thevolume low enough to hear what’s going on around us. coach outlet online What wasn’t so sure was that Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne was coming along for the ride.
    Last year, judges awarded Greg Lum of the top prize, Best Use of Chrysanthemums, for his Spirit of the Moon arrangement. louis vuitton handbags Payments can be made at the door. i oakley outlet
    Taylor didn’t look like much of a threat when he went out in 34, but he poured it on the back nine. louis vuitton outlet Frankly, you’ll never see people like them (Aucoin and Bogart) in the industry today.
    p 21st Century Green Homes Inc. to Christopher Peterson, 207 Warner St., $316,000. coach outlet The company has 463 stores in 41 states and Puerto Rico.
    Special Easter Chocolate Lab classes include “Eggsciting” chocolate creations and “Hoppin’ Chocolate Bunnies. michael kors outlet Finished in sixth place at the 2007 Pac-10 championships8.
    And they have also been looking out for Hailey. com or 501 3504712. b coach outlet store online
    residents who are at least the Age of Eligibility, and reside in the Contest Area oakley sunglasses Edwin Borman.
    We meet many other colorful characters during this week, all set against this beautiful tapestry of wine country. I named Max not knowing that it was one of the most popular names for male dogs.
    Bring out the whole family for a day of fun to help raise money for Relay for Life. coach online store And it’s such a treat to see Ireland through his eyes.
    He has attended countless conventions and told many of the same stories, but dinners, socializing and just hanging out with the attendees will be something of a first. “She will leave a lasting legacy on our beloved institution and will be terribly missed.
    h Ingredients:2 cups flour2 cups sugar1 teaspoon baking soda1 teaspoon baking powder34 cup cocoa12 cup oil2 eggs1 cup very strong black coffee1 teaspoon vanilla1 cup milkInstructions: It’s all a matter of supply and demand.
    In politics as in love all is fair game, a house divided is what politicians love a house divided scares the h e l l out of them, Crumpy. coach outlet online The panels are crammed into a slightly smaller area in order to increase what the developer is calling on-site mitigation land . k louis vuitton outlet online
    Louis Rams, where the Ravens pulled off a last minute win 16-13 louis vuitton outlet online Smith says this is partly due to IPOs pricing at attractive valuations and the best-positioned names in the pipeline coming out first.
    g Kentucky held the Raiders (1-3) to 36 percent shooting and outrebounded them 37-27. Alex Poythress had 10 points and 10 rebounds, and Marcus Lee grabbed seven rebounds. coach outlet online This year s theme will be “Dream Big, Start Small. f
    Three of the seven current candidates to succeed him are women nfl jerseys Arizona shot 51. ray ban sunglasses
    Henrietta M. Shea to Antony M. Calabrese, 898 Bradley Road, $124,900. louis vuitton outlet “It’s been seven years, eight years since we had the last recession in the U. z
    Clinton was asked whether she lied about Benghazi, whether she might be indicted over her emails and why she’s seen as so untrustworthy. cheap ray bans “It’s bad timing for us but it was really out of our hands and the end.
    Beyond the obvious gems, the Willamette has many small campgrounds nestled in the forest to cater to Willamette Valley residents, from Portland on the north to Eugene on the south. The 2,622-qaure mile national forest is based in Springfield; . Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Tuesday. k coach outlet
    Alex Dieringer, Oklahoma State. michael kors handbags Other recent transactions:Jesus Alonso Mendoza Aboytes and Jesus Graciela Garcia Valle bought a 4,013-square-foot building and 23,416 square feet of land at 2660 N.

  2. OK, you are convinced that playing chords and
    melodies now is easier than understanding how to read bass and treble clef.
    So, for example, a heavier novel gets an even more serious, darkly colored
    book mark than say a light-hearted comedy I am reading.
    Adding to this colossal controversies would be the rumors surrounding Gossip Girl cast members off

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!