Subtlety is a pipe dream in many improv performances, but Fruit Paunch managed to draw out the laughs without stooping too low. The show itself consisted of eight performers on a bare stage and opened a bit late with a hasty introduction of performers. After that, the troupe jumped straight into their first “game”–or in non-improv speak, their first routine. The hungry audience provided “tacos” as a prompt with the result being all the hilarity of a taco-eating contest.
While the first performance was decent, the troupe’s second routine really showcased the talents of the performers. Each cast member involved in the skit had a 3-5 minute monologue in the style of a documentary about the audience-suggested theme of hygiene. The third act involved three actors silently performing while three other actors dubbed their lines. Here, it wasn’t necessarily the situationally funny moments or the acting that stood out, but the lines the dubbers came up with. One of the most memorable moments of the night came when, after being challenged to a poetry battle, a performer pulled out of thin air a fantastic poem about a “lantern… fish.”
The final and longest act was much like the first but involved all the performers and had a twist: whenever a performer was saying a line but but the other cast members did not like the direction it would take the sketch, they could say “ding!” and force the performer to repeat the line differently. This device produced perhaps the biggest laugh of the night when a series of lines about a character’s parents degenerated into the actor shouting, “My parents are wolves!”
Although thoroughly enjoyable, the show was not without its low points. The idea of a robot from the future speaking in a documentary about hygiene did not sit well with the audience. It garnered little laughs and only became funny when a fellow cast member came in and essentially saved the act by taking the role of the actress’s father. At another point in the last routine, two cast members completely failed to notice the entrance of a third player onto the stage; they had to be alerted by a performer in the background. Despite these minor hiccups, the heavily cardigan-clad audience thoroughly appreciated all the dings and dubbing.