Bare @ the Columbia Improv Festival

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The first annual Columbia Improv Festival was this last week (April 18-22, 2001) in Columbia, South Carolina, and Bare was proud to be a part of the festival. We has a great time, both on-stage and off.

Getting There

To save a few bucks we didn't fly straight into Columbia, but instead took a little prop plane into Florence (about an hour away) and rented a car. When we arrived in Florence, the ground crew couldn't get the cargo door open. We watched as the ground crew, the pilots, and various airport bystanders tried to get the door open by pushing and prying at it with large metal bars. Finally, an older man with a small tool kit came out and actually fixed whatever was wrong, with a very small screwdriver. Brains not brawn, people. Unfortunately, both my cameras were in the cargo bay, so I didn't get any pictures.

We did finally make it into Columbia and headed over to the mainstage - the State Museum auditorium. Right outside the building was a TV van -- hey, are we gonna be on TV? Ummm... no. It was a live broadcast of Mr. Knowzit's (a local Mr. Wizard-esque TV personality) last show. Oh well.

State Museum
Mr. Knowzit is the one in the vest
The State Museum
Mr. Knowzit
Dean Poyner
Brooke Connoly
The Man - Dean Poyner
Our guide to all things Columbia, Brooke Connolly
CIF Vice President, Michelle Affronte

Friday Shows

The Friday Mainstage shows were all short form groups - Improv!Able Cause from Furman University (for a group from Ed Furman U. they were surprisingly clean), local late-night, black-wearing favorites The We're Not Your Mother Players, and Atlanta greats Laughing Matters. This was the first festival that Laughing Matters has attended since the ImprovStock festival in Athens,GA back in 1994 or so.

The late night shows were in two locations (which meant we never got to see the Gorgeous Ladies of Comedy - sorry ladies). At the Blue Martini, we the obigitory lights crisis - one of the bar employees tried to improve the lighting situation and managed to turn off all the stage lights but one. In a replay of the cargo bay door incident, we had two bar employees, Russ Tabor (the excellent venue co-ordinator), and Shaun all standing around poking at a light controller. Somehow they got all the lights back on and we got on stage. Our show flew by amid cries of "Louder" and the mutterings of a prom group, but I think it went fairly well. Then we got to the really fun part of the evening: Armando Diaz, Kevin Mullaney, and Asaf Ronen were all at the festival as instructors, and with Chicago transplant Joe Slyman (now of the Art Bar Players) we all performed as The Chicago Thing and did a fun long form exploration of "Love Sucks". Armando does make a great "Awkward Friend Fairy".

The late night shows were followed by a drunken short-form jam at the Blue Martini. Many of us had fun shouting out impossible directions to those on stage ("Now replay that in the form of Harold Pinter's 'Betrayal'"). As someone pointed out, people from Chicago are bastards.

Improv!able Cause
Not Your Mothers Players
Improv!able Cause on the Mainstage
Not Your Mothers Players on the Mainstage
Laughing Matters
The Chicago Thing
Laughing Matters on the Mainstage
The Chicago Thing
Asaf Ronen
Drunken Jam
My brother - Asaf Ronen
The Jam on Friday Night.
Laughing Matters
Laughing Matters hanging out at the Blue Martini.


After a late awakening and a Subway breakfast/lunch on Saturday, Shaun and I headed back to the State Museum for our afternoon High School show. In an ambitious outreach attempt for a new festival, the festival brought in high school students from around South Carolina for a day of workshops, puncuated by a show by Bare. We were both a little tired, but some excellent light work by the redoubtable Asaf Ronen got us kicked into gear and I think we aquitted ourselves well.

We then had the rest of the afternoon off and we headed over to Five Points for a little shopping and dinner. We each got a new shirt and then Shaun got sick. Thanks, Five Points. (A word of warning to Columbia visitors - it might be safest to avoid the Shrimp Alfredo at Yesterday's.)

Saturday Shows

So... my apologies to Toast (from USC) and the Art Bar Players - we didn't see much of their mainstage shows on Saturday night because Shaun was running around throwing up and I was running around worrying about Shaun throwing up. Trouper that he is, Shaun pulled himself together and the show went well.

The Saturday Late Night venue was the cavernous Columbia Music Festival Association hall. Improv!Able Cause and Laughing Matters treated us to more of their delightful shortform (Laughing Matters treated us to the Woodrow Wilson song and their Jeopardy provided us with "The Answer is Judaica." "What is the Hebrew Heavy Metal Band modeled after Metallica?"). The Barstool Philosophers finished off the official shows of the festival with an energetic long-form on the theme "Rommel - the Desert Fox".

Then... it was over to the Trustus Theater, home of the We're Not Your Mothers Players, for a drunken long-form jam. The Trustus is a huge theater and has very interesting seating - it's all easy chairs. We're all sorry that we broke part of the set for "Side Man."

And after a long evening of hanging out at Brooke Connolly's house watching disturbing Nine Inch Nails video, it was time for Shaun and I to head off to Florence for our return flight. We ended up waiting outside the State Capitol at 5 AM waiting for Kay to pick us up. A blur of car and plane travel later, I was home in dirty old Chicago.

Armando and Dean
George Younts
A high school prom was also at the State Museum Saturday night. Ahhh. young love.
Improv Stock co-ordinator George Younts, now a high school theater teacher, stopped by the festival.
Cait and Dean
Laughing Matters
Cait and Dean Poyner. Ahh... young love.
Laughing Matters at the CMFA.
Barstool Philosophers
Joe Slyman gets the Barsool Philosophers suggestion at the CMFA.
Dan of the Barstool Philosophers discovered after the show that he had someone else's blood on his shirt. That's committment.
Shaun and Cait.
Ahh... young love.
I don't have good pictures of the Art Bar Players actually performing, so here's Issa Nagasaki serving beer at the CMFA.
Maegan Gudridge
Tireless Volunteer, Maegan Gudridge.
The easy chairs at the Trustus Theater.
Drunken long-form jam at the Trustus.
Yes, that's a green jewel on my forehead. All the rockstars are wearing them this year.
Confederate Flag
Drunken Moron with a Pointy Stick
They took the Confederate Flag off the State Capitol and put it on a memorial right in front of the State Capitol. It makes a great landmark to meet someone at 5 AM. I've been helping a friend of mine take pictures for a card game he designed and one card we need a picture for is called "Drunken Moron with a Pointy Stick". This seemed like an excellent time to get that photo.

Questions? Comments?