For more than four years, “Good On Paper” has been a staple every other Saturday night from 11pm-midnight. The six-person improv comedy act juggles vignettes, games and audience suggestions, some of which can get a little raunchy.
“We don’t set out to make it adult material,” said founding member David Avis, “but it sometimes ends up that way. We can get some pretty dirty audiences.”
Avis said the group rotates through 40 different games, using 15 or so in the show.
These “games” consist of set-ups like “Whose Line Is It Anyway” – party scenes where guests introduce the next guest as a made-up superhero; Alphabet, where every line has to start with the next letter of the alphabet; and Questions Only, where every line is a question.
Some vignettes appear week to week, such as “Chariots of Fire,” where the cast acts out a scene in slow motion to the music from the movie.
The troupe of six includes Avis, Bryan Boettcher, Mike Gauthier, Michael Libby, Heather Strouse, and Stephanie Young, many of whom have been part of the group since its inception.
Like most of the cast, Michael Libby comes from a theatre background. But he also studied improv, including a stint with the famed Second City troupe in Chicago.
Libby also taught acting and theater in high school and grad school.
“I like scripted theatre a lot, but it can get mundane,” running through the same lines and scenes over and over, he said.
Plus, memorizing scripts and attending rehearsals takes time, he said.
“I have a wife and two kids,” Libby said.
“With improv I can walk onstage without spending the time for rehearsal.”
Like the others, Stephanie Young has a theatre background. When she saw the audition notice, she was immediately interested.
“I fell in love with it,” she said. “It’s fantastic and a little terrifying.”
From time to time, the group brings in guests, like Holly Baker and Marc Schollett from TV 7&4, or Christal Frost and Bill Froehlich from WTCM AM 580.
“Good On Paper” is growing its fan base, Avis said.
“Some people come every week,” he said.Libby said the audiences are key to the show.
“They know we haven’t prepared anything,” he said. “We never know what’s going to come at us.”
Good On Paper Improv performs every other Saturday at the downstairs Schmuckal Theatre at Old Town Playhouse in Traverse City. Showtime is 11 pm; doors open at 10:30pm; tickets are $5 at the door. Patrons get free coffee and donuts. For more, visit the group’s Facebook page.