Ciera Miller Contributing Writer
On March 29, Lincoln Auditorium was bursting with laughter, and not just from UMF’s resident improv group, The Lawn Chair Pirates (LCP), but also from a special guest improv group, the Teachers Lounge Mafia (TLM). First on their own and then together, the groups fueled stomach splitting shenanigans the entire night.
Steffon Gales of LCP had worked previously with his Practicum teacher, Dan Ryder, in a earlier LCP/TLM collaboration, and Gales thought it might be fun to have one more performance with the TLM before graduating. Together, the two began planning and soon the night was born.
Members of both groups were eager for the collaboration. “They were all for it,” Gales said of LCP. Jeff Bailey and Kyla Wheeler of the Teachers Lounge Mafia expressed their own excitement. They’d only had one rehearsal before the performance, and although every improv group has their “own flavor, own vibes”, the two worked well together.
Audrey Keith, recently inducted into LCP, was nervous but she’d worked with Ryder before as he was one of her previous teachers, so she knew his brand of humor and appreciated it. “It’s a little weird to play ‘Sex is like…’ with my old teacher,” Keith said.
Even Neil Noilette knew the other group. “I play D&D with Jeff and my dad,” Noilette said, “so it made it easier.” Though he was a little wary as well. “If it’s not good,” Noilette said, “it’s 50% not our fault!”
But the performance was phenomenal, and 50% of it was LCP’s fault.
The first third of the show was designated to TLM, to introduce the crowd to a new kind of comedy. LCP agreed that the other group had a more experienced style as they have been doing improv for longer. TLM introduced their game “Clickable”, the exact opposite of LCP’s notorious game “Sniper”, and is incidentally where “Sniper” originated from.
“Yeah, one of the older members took ‘Clickable’, where you ask a person which character they want to know more about, and thought, ‘Hey, what if instead, you killed them?’” Wheeler said, laughing.
LCP were up to their own tricks in their third of the show. Memorably, Jeremy Tingdahl and Brock Bubat played ‘Nouner’, where the audience gave Tingdahl three nouns and he had to explain them all to Brock, who had to guess what they were. The first noun laid some heavy unhappiness on Michelle Obama’s school lunch policies, the second took Bubar to France where he’d forgotten what Paris was called and was convinced that Tingdahl’s arm was a baguette, and the third noun brought them to a mountain side where Tingdahl tried help Bubar understand that he wasn’t talking about goats, but about llamas. “Brock, they spit, like this,” Tingdahl had said, then acted it out.
The two groups melded well together. The way that Ryder and Eil Mowry held (and dropped) Simba at Pride Rock caused the audience to burst into laughter. Eli’s comment “Can’t we just get a new one?” struck a similar chord, followed by Ryder retrieving a new baby that seemed more like a zebra than a lion.
Keith survived playing “Sex is like…” with her former teacher, and it was just like he was another member of her improv group. In ‘The Dating Game’, Gales’ famous character Julian (a young boy going through puberty) found love with Bailey’s Shakira character, though Hailey Craig’s Captain Marvel and Phil Hobby’s kleptomaniac continuously eating nachos created some competition.
“There was no need to figure out the chemistry, it was just there,” Gales said. The groups expect to collaborate again in the future. Gales hopes, since it’s his last semester at the UMF, that LCP can continue to interact with the Farmington community after he leaves. “We are part of it,” Gales said, “so we should interact more in it.”
Gales’ last show is April 27 in Lincoln Auditorium. This show will also be the final LCP performance Nick D’Aleo and Jonas Maines as well. TLM will be performing on April 26 at Mount Blue high school.