Rebecca Hopkins, managing director of Florida Studio Theatre, is the guiding light and chief instigator behind FST Improv. Hopkins hosts and directs the Saturday night summer shows that have developed into a guaranteed laugh machine and get better every year. Last Saturday was the first time it’s ever given me a pain — in the stomach.
I was doubled over with laughter and a spasm away from calling for a medic (which they may be required to have available on-site if they keep this up) during a skit called “Puppets.” Steve Turissi and Catey Brannan played the puppets, who, by audience suggestion, are required to act out the situation “childbirth.” Two audience members are recruited to move the “puppets,” who cannot move otherwise. Hilarity ensues as the actors respond to the fumbling movements imposed on them. In this case, it included the presumably “in-labor” Brannan goose-stepping across the stage and hapless “father-to-be” Turissi eyeball-to-eyeball with her womb.
In another audience participation skit, the performers act out a day in the life of an audience member, in this case, Grace, from Sarasota. Chris Friday was highly amusing as he turned her boyfriend, Josh, into an Ibuprofen-popping slacker, and Darryl Knaap equally so as Buckaroo, the rootin’-tootin’ cat. Christine Alexander always kills it with her elastic face and expressive body. This night saw her perform “Moves Like Jagger” as well as her signature “interpreter for the deaf” routine.
The fourth annual Sarasota Improv Festival, two days of nonstop comedy, starting Friday, July 20, will be held at FST in the Goldstein Cabaret. This year’s lineup of invited improvisation troupes includes Just the Funny, from Miami; ImprovBoston, from Boston; Dad’s Garage, from Atlanta; The Hitmen, from Chicago; Available Cupholders, from Austin, Texas; Stacked, from Chicago; Jester Theater and SAK Comedy Lab, from Orlando; and Vintage Whine and Lazy Fairy Improv, from Sarasota, along with FST Improv. You can enjoy the entire weekend, including opening and closing parties, or see different groups individually. It promises to be a real belly-buster.
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