Troupe creates laughs on the fly

Give this quartet of comedians a few guidelines, and boom! Instant shenanigans.

Ryan Clausen, Jim Courim Jr., Stacy Anderson and Jenna Cintavey have been doing their improvisational comedy act for a few years now under the very accurate name Instant Shenanigans.

You can catch them almost every Thursday night — including tonight — at The Funny Farm, which occupies the lower level of Mojo’s Pub, 6292 Mahoning Ave., Austintown. Admission is $10 for the shows, which always include some stand-up comedians as openers.

The foursome creates scenarios with the help of audience suggestions and — without a moment’s preparation — turn them into hilarious sketches in the style of the TV show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”

For Clausen and his colleagues, it’s a side job that grows from their love of acting.

“I get to randomly become a new character,” he said. “That’s what I like about it.”

Clausen’s credits in community theater recently include “Camille” at Victorian Players, “The Drag Queen Who Stole Christmas” at the Oakland and a production of “Children of Eden” in Sharon, Pa. The Austintown native and Youngstown State University graduate has long done stand-up comedy as well, and won the Funniest Penguin contest while at YSU.

Courim, a Kent State graduate, was most recently seen in “Oklahoma!” and “Bye-Bye Birdie” at Trumbull New Theater and in Highway Tabernacle Church’s annual production of “A Passion Play.”

Cintavey, a Kent State student, has done a wealth of theater, including roles in “Tartuffe” and “A Streetcar Named Desire” at Kent-Trumbull Theater, “Circle Mirror Transformation” at the Youngstown Playhouse and “Fat Pig” at the Oakland.

Anderson’s credits include directing “Children of Eden” as well as roles in “Oliver!” and “Chicago” at the Youngstown Playhouse, “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” at New Castle Playhouse and “Oklahoma!” at TNT.

Instant Shenanigans has a passel of games and sketches that become fresh and completely different with every new audience.

For example, there’s “Emo Re-run,” in which the audience offers up a scenario — for example, a baptism — and then a series of styles or moods in which to present it: depressed, high-strung, etc.

In another sketch, an audience member will outline a first date. As the troupe acts it out, that person will either ring a bell to approve of the direction or honk a horn when they get off-track.

The interactive improv at the Funny Farm is something you have to be a part of to truly understand, and you have to see it to fully appreciate it.

And for Clausen, it beats doing stand-up. “It’s more fun and spontaneous, and there is less pressure. You surprise yourself when you’re up there,” he said.

“Plus, when you’re doing stand-up, audience interaction usually means a heckler!”


Cedar’s Lounge is in its final weeks at its original — and only — location at 23 N. Hazel St., downtown Youngstown. The rock ’n’ roll bar, which opened in the ’70s, must vacate the old building by the end of the month. The building will be rehabbed and turned into upscale eateries, offices and apartments.

Plans call for Cedar’s to move into a new location this spring. An announcement as to the exact location is due at the end of the month, according to Mara Simon, who operates the bar with Billy Danielson.

To give the old site a proper goodbye on its final weekend, Cedar’s will have a mini-festival Jan. 25, with performances by The Building, Andre Costello and the Cool Minors, poet Rahkeem Brown and The Raspberry Reich. Vendors will be on hand with comics and art, records and other stuff. Vegan foods will be sold by SPACE-bakery. Doors will open at 8 p.m.

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