Jokes & Dagger improv group makes return to the Diebold Center

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, March 20th, 2019 at 5:54 PM

The All Jokes Aside Edinboro improv group recently presented the shortform program, “Jokes & Dagger,” on March 15 at the Diebold Center for the Performing Arts.

The cast of theatre players were divided into two teams: The “Pinksters,” starring assistant director Andrew Poll, Erika Krasneski and Rob Francis; and the competing team, “Captain! Its Yellow,” featuring director Sarah Wheaton, Elaina Krafick and Jenny Bechtold.

All Jokes Aside has gone through different iterations over the past few years, according to Wheaton. She helped establish it as the replacement for the previous improv group, Laugh/Half, which produced the sketch show “Deviant Behavior.”

Under Wheaton’s direction, the show is separated into seven different acts. Each act was announced by the show’s assistant director Cameron Maxon, who would ask the audiences for suggestions on would make up the story for each scene. Never shying away from a suggestion, Maxon informed the performers of their themes and characters chosen, which varied from Harry Potter running out of vape juice, to Sylvester Stallone dealing with erectile dysfunction.

One game, Spit Take, featured two audience members volunteering themselves to the team’s attempts to make them spit out water they had drank. Both teams were unsuccessful, but it made for a dramatic moment.

Dynamic performances that stood out included that of Rob Francis, who hilariously broke character in a few instances to address the absurdity of the scene’s subject.  When asked about his history in improv theater, Francis explained that, “It’s’s a great way to get away from things for a couple of hours a week.”

The other cast also reflected on their previous experiences in improvisational theatre and explained what they like to see in their fellow thespian when performing. Common answers ranged from having a sense of humor, to imagination, but more impressionable answers came from actors like Andrew Poll. He stated that “having energy, enjoying interacting with other people and teamwork” are the most important characteristics one must have when performing in this way.

Francis reflected the sentiment when expressing the camaraderie needed when acting. “It is more about knowing your team than it is knowing anything else.”

According to Krafick, possessing these aforementioned characteristics is key when trying to master the art of improv. “You have to be creative enough to build a world around you when there is no set or props,” she said. “You have to be creative enough to paint that picture for other people.”

In order to paint that picture, “you should be OK with being on stage, you should be OK with coming up with things on the should at least specialize in one out-of-pocket thing that you’re good at,” said Krasneski.

Another performance of “Jokes & Dagger” will take place on April 12 at Diebold. Tickets are $3 for students, $5 for faculty and staff, and $10 for general admission. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 7:30.

Collin Alekson |

Tags: theatre

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