Kent improv comedy troupes battle for the laughs

By Lorraine Spencer

The competition is modeled after ‘Who’s Line Is It Anyway?’

WARREN — Jenna Cintavey and Dan Parsons are ready to rumble. Improv rumble, that is.

Cintavey and Parsons are the co-presidents of Spot On Productions, Kent State Trumbull’s improvisational comedy troupe.

They’ve invited improv troupes from other Kent campuses to a competition Friday — the Rumble in Trumbull. The troupes will compete in head-to-head showdowns to determine which is the best.

Cintavey and Parsons started Spot On Productions last year.

Cintavey, a theater performance major, felt theater students at Kent Trumbull needed an extracurricular project.

Parsons, a technical theater major, suggested improvisational comedy. Inspired by Live Wire, a now defunct Kent Trumbull improv troupe, they created Spot On.

Spot On meets every other Wednesday in the Kent Trumbull theater. The group is open to the public and has received an excellent response, said Cintavey.

On average, 35-40 people of all ages come to the meetings, and at times there have been 50 participants, said Parsons.

“It has really taken off,” he said. Approximately half the troupe members are Kent Trumbull theater students and half are from the community, including a group of Niles High School students, said Cintavey.

The troupe is advised by Kent Trumbull Theater Professor Dr. Daniel Nadon.

At each meeting, the troupe practices reacting to different handles, or premises. The actors take suggestions from the audience, similar to the television show, “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” Throughout the year, the handles become longer and more serious as the participants’ abilities improve, said Cintavey.

The participants work on skills such as characterization, quick thinking, and working together.

Friday’s competition will include three improv troupes: two from Kent Trumbull’s Spot On Productions, and one from Kent Main Campus, the Portage County Players. Judging the event will be Dana Warren, a former president of Live Wires; Dr. Bank, a theater professor at Kent State Main Campus; and Cherie Celedonia, the assistant director of Packard Music Hall.

The competition will consist of nine rounds of improv. Each team will have a chance to react to the same handle for eight rounds.

The ninth round will be a “wild card” round, in which the teams each choose their own handle. The teams will be judged on criteria such as originality, humor, wit, energy, character choices, and simply how well they work together.

Each handle is assigned points and is judged on specific criteria. The team with the most points after nine rounds is the winner.

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