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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Women rule in ‘The Best Show Period’ improv


    Courtesy of Tucson Improv Movement

    From left to right, Shanna Leonard, Catherine Barlett, Jessica Hill, Jessica Gregg and Jessica Peck of the all-female improv group The Riveters perform. The group will put on the last performance of its show “The Best Show Period” on Saturday.

    Tucson Improv Movement is celebrating female comedians in “The Best Show Period,” combining long-form improvisation, storytelling and stand-up comedy to create a show like no other.

    Jessica Peck, the artistic director of “The Best Show Period” said she wanted to spotlight the women in TIM as well as independent Tucson comediennes to give the audience a taste of what the female side of comedy can do. 

    Each show is split into two parts. The first half of the performance showcases a female storyteller and a comedienne, which vary each week. In order to put on the show, TIM has partnered up with various organizations that support women’s involvement in comedy and performing arts.

    Female StoryTellers is a group that promotes female writers through a monthly competition in which contestants must write a story based on a particular theme or prompt. Four stories are then chosen from the submissions and performed in front of an audience. The company strives to give female author/performers a place to exhibit their work, and several storytellers from FST have been featured in “The Best Show Period.”

    Performers from Odyssey Storytelling, a group similar to FST but open to both men and women, have also been featured in the show. Odyssey’s website describes the art of storytelling as “the newest addition to the spoken-word scene or a compelling form of personal communication as ancient as language itself.”

    Along with the storytellers, a different local stand-up comedienne is featured at each performance. There are a number of independent comediennes in Tucson and TIM wanted to strengthen its relationship with these women and give them a place to exhibit their talents.

    “It brings people that aren’t in our company into our theatre to perform,” said Justin Lukasewicz, the owner and executive producer of TIM. Lukasewicz said that he is always looking for ways to connect to the rest of the comedy community around Tucson and at the UA and to make it stronger, and the collaborations over “The Best Show Period” are assisting in that endeavor.

    The second half of the performance turns the show over to the Riveters, the TIM’s all-female long-form improvisation comedy troupe. The Riveters is made up of seven women from all around Tucson with varying backgrounds and experience in the comedic arts. Led by Peck, the group will be performing an improv routine based around stories from their lives.

    For those unfamiliar with improv comedy, it is a type of acting that requires thinking on your feet, adlibbing and finding things that will make an audience laugh. Although somewhat similar to theatrical acting in presentation, the preparation that goes into improv is completely different. Instead of memorizing lines and practicing deliverances of dialogue, improv comedians practice by doing exercises to sharpen the various skills they need to put on a good show.

    The various troupes at TIM, including the Riveters, practice between one and a half to two hours per week. Depending on the style of the show it is preparing for, each troupe focuses on different skills when rehearsing.

    Improv shows are almost always anchored in audience participation, and with a different audience each night, the comedians have to be ready for anything that could be thrown at them. 

    “The whole improv philosophy is this kind of ‘yes, and’ philosophy where you don’t negate anything,” said Peck, who first became involved with improv comedy during her time as a student at the UA.

    While taking an acting class to meet a general education requirement, Peck discovered that she really enjoyed the art of improv comedy. A little while later, a friend of hers suggested that they check out one of the classes on improv that TIM offers. After taking a few classes, Peck and her friend tried out for one of the troupes and got in, and from then on they continued to be involved in classes and performances at TIM.

    “I really enjoy the intellectual challenge of coming up with funny stuff on the spot and getting to the game of the scene and having a blast with it,” Peck said. 

    “The Best Show Period” has its final showing Saturday at 9 p.m. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the box office at the TIM Company Theater on Fourth Avenue 30 minutes before the show starts.


    Follow Victoria Pereira on Twitter.

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