Just say the word: AIIA Improv set to create comedy show on the spot


AIIA Improv members (from left) Iedil, Tung, Farah and Shamaine are set to hit the stage with the 'One Word Wonder' show, which will be staged at SoulCity Hub, Petaling Jaya on Jan 20 and 21. Photo: All Is Amazing

The country’s longest running improv comedy troupe, AIIA Improv, is set to kick off the new year with a fresh twist on comedy in its upcoming show, One Word Wonder.

The show – set to play at SoulCity Hub, Petaling Jaya on Jan 20 and 21 – will incorporate musical elements into their long-form improv format, calling on the audience to suggest one word that will set the stage for the performers to improvise an entire show on the spot.

The troupe’s current members – Ashraf Modee Zain, Farah Rani, Iedil Dzhurie Alaudin, Shamaine Othman and Tung Jit Yang – are all active practitioners in Malaysia’s theatre stage and screen industry, and will be joined by special musical guest Irena Taib of Malaysian indie folk band The Impatient Sisters.

“After almost 14 years of sharing the joy of short form improv games with comedy fans around KL, we now want to share the magic of long form improv where we build a 60-70 minute story or mini play just by using a one word suggestion from the audience,” says Shamaine Othman, a comedian known for her bold sets.

Farah is looking forward to this interactive performance (produced independently), which is the follow-up to AIIA Improv’s One Word Wonder (without a musician) at Hush The Theatre in KL last year.

“The audience suggests a single word, and the improvisers create a unique show on the spot,” says Farah.

She is hoping for a few more AIIA Improv shows this year, but it all depends on the schedule of the members.

'The audience suggests a single word, and the improvisers create a unique show on the spot,' says Farah, who also starred in last year's 'Mixtape For Maz' theatre show. Photo: The Star/Art Chen 'The audience suggests a single word, and the improvisers create a unique show on the spot,' says Farah, who also starred in last year's 'Mixtape For Maz' theatre show. Photo: The Star/Art Chen

“We are all so busy individually, but it’s great when get back together on stage. There are no plans yet beyond these upcoming shows, but let’s keep our fingers-crossed,” she adds.

Farah looks back fondly at AIIA Improv, which was established in 2007, and how it has kept going, even with special annual shows now and not a regular monthly series in recent times.

“If AIIA (Improv) was our child, it would be his/her SPM year! Time has really flown,” says Farah.

No right or wrong in improv

Iedil, a popular film actor who now shuttles between Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur, says, “We are excited to have Irena Taib joining us. Not only will the story be improvised on the spot, but Irena will be improvising music that will turn our mini play to a mini musical.”

For Irena, the show will be her debut in improv – how does it feel to be the newbie among veteran improvisers?

“I’m pretty nervous, but very excited to be a part of the show! Looking forward to working with the team and I hope I’ll do okay. I guess you have to come to the show and see,” she teases.

Talking about what he enjoys the most about improv comedy, Iedil says, “Nothing is right or wrong when it comes to improv.”

“It’s how you build a story from that and make it work. There’s always the assumption that improv is spontaneous – and it is! But through our exercises, we have learned some improv perimeters that would move the story further,” he adds.

“For me, the most fun aspect of improv is not knowing what to expect and also seeing what your fellow improvisers have to offer you while building a story,” says Shamaine.

Irena, theatre composer and indie musician, will be improvising music that will turn the mini play to a mini musical. Photo: FilepicIrena, theatre composer and indie musician, will be improvising music that will turn the mini play to a mini musical. Photo: Filepic

According to her, the group has previously included musical elements in their short-form game shows.

“So we thought, why not bring that into our long-form show? This is the first time we’re doing a long-form show with music, so at any time, the story that we build can turn into a mini musical.”

Do they have any tips for those looking to break into the improv scene?

“A big rule of improv is to agree with whatever offer you’re given, and you also need to be a good listener to be good at improv. A wacky mind also helps,” says Shamaine.

Similarly, Iedil’s advice is to take on the challenge on stage.

“Always be open to anything! Any suggestion or idea is an amazing story to build on,” he concludes.

One Word Wonder will be staged at SoulCity Hub, Petaling Jaya on Jan 20 and 21. More info here.

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AIIA Improv , Comedy , improv , music , Theatre , Farah Rani , arts

   

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