They’re No Creeps
The newly reformed UCB Harold long-form improv teams -- Tantrum and Creep --
hone their comic chops
Pictured: Creep members Eugene Cordero, Eric
Bernat, Ryan Karels and Silvija Ozols; and separately, Tantrum's Jeffrey Marx.
recent months, the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre has shuffled the membership
of its improv teams, mixing and matching members of previous groups, as well as
adding new performers to the mix.
In this week’s Harold night, a newer team, Tantrum, joined Creep, an older team
that has changed about half its members recently. Tantrum generally has a
membership that is newer to the UCB stage, while most of Creep have been
performing there for awhile with this group or in others.
In Tantrum, performers Brian Faas, Violet Krumbein and Jeffrey Marx are
particular standouts. Tantrum is still working with the constraints of a word
game type of opening to its long-form improv and adhering to a few distinct
scenes and themes that it will revisit repeatedly and elaborate upon. They are
still working within the standard rules for a long form performance taught in
Marx dominates scenes, partly with his physical presence on the stage, but also
by tapping into a vein of absurdity, as when he injected a scene playing off the
theme of “clowns,” by alluding to serial killer John Wayne Gacy’s infamous clown
paintings. Faas hides mischief with a genial charm that makes for an interesting
dynamic in scenes. Krumbein instantly created a fully realized character of a
schoolgirl who is nonchalant about sex and condoms, complete with a squeaky
girlish voice -- but not just a caricature, rather a deep portrayal even within
Creep, for its part, laid out a rapid succession of brief scenes -- about 16
distinct ones within the space of the 30 minute performance -- as it sought to
hit upon what characters and scenes would be good to tie together to a
crescendo. Around their eighth and ninth scene, they seemed to really hit what
they were looking for. As more experienced improvisational performers, they have
the chops to take such a strategy in finding the payoff for the performance.
In addition, Creep now possesses a much better sense of material, no longer
treading the questionable ground of rape topics it delved into when seen
performing a year ago. Eric Bernat of the group scored big with the audience
this time as he delivered a monologue as the best friend of a bride who steals
her groom that mined melodrama for all it’s worth till he nearly ran out of
breath and even beyond that point. Angeliki George and Eugene Cordero also found
resonance as a couple who aspire from their youth to run a casino and finally
get there. Creep as whole expertly tied together the runaway maid of honor and
the casino couple by the end of the improv.
Also part of this night’s shows, the sketch group Hot Sauce presented some of
their work as hosts. When previously reviewed earlier this year, this group’s
material was still uneven, but if their work in a few brief introductions is any
indication, they have raised their game considerably. They had an excellent
command of the SNL standby of planting audience members to harangue a host
attempting a monologue, and also delivered a dead-on parody of the horror movie
Next week: A look at more of the new UCB teams.