Paducah Improv will be performing in "Quilt City Showdown" at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 27 in the Myre River Room of the Carson Center. It will be the first time the group performs a comedy showdown in a game-show format.
The members of Paducah Improv have never been content to stand still. Whether it’s trying out a different venue, experimenting with unfamiliar formats, or bringing in new performers, the group is always moving forward.
The comedy group will reveal some of the new tricks up its sleeve during the “Quilt City Showdown” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 27, in the Myre River Room of the Luther F. Carson Four Rivers Center.
Producer Chuck Tate said the show will pit two three-person teams against one another in a game show format, with a referee to keep the match fair. The teams will vie for the audience’s applause, and a clap meter will determine the funniest team. Tate said scene ideas will come from audience suggestions, Trivial Pursuit cards, horoscopes from various newspapers and a box of fortune cookies.
“The new format is entirely different from anything that we’ve done,” Paducah Improv member Matt Curtis said. “It’s interesting to add the element of competition.”
The format isn’t the only thing that’s new for the team. A casting call in March created a nine-member student team, which will participate in a short-form improv jam during the “Quilt City Showdown.”
Although it’s only been rehearsing for a few months, the group has made impressive progress, Curtis said.
“Compared to how long it took us (the original cast) to gain the fundamentals, they’re blowing us out of the water,” he admitted. “The best thing about them is they’re eager to learn, and that’s something you can’t beat.”
A wide range of ages and experience levels distinguishes the student team, which brings together performers from around the region.
Student team member Cathy Newton, 24, of Paducah said she became involved with the group because she’d never been involved in improvisational comedy — or any other kind of acting.
“I wanted to try it out just to see what would happen,” she said. “Every day is fun and exciting.”
After about four months of rehearsal, Newton and fellow student team member Stacey Smith, 38, will appear with the original group during the “Quilt City Showdown.”
Smith came to the group with a bit more experience, having taken a year off teaching to attend the Second City Conservatory in Chicago. A Murray resident who teaches drama and English at Marshall County High School, Smith said that improv gives her a chance to put theory into practice.
“I’m always looking for opportunities to do the things that I teach my students about,” she said. And — like every other team member — Smith is in it for the fun, too.
“It is a beautiful thing when something completely unscripted comes together in a way that you cannot possibly plan, and you cannot possibly re-create,” she said.
Contact Laurel Black, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8641 or follow @LaurelFBlack on Twitter.