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Inaugural Improv Festival Oklahoma brings troupes from around U.S.



"right" vspace="10" border="0" />The whole deal with improvisational comedy is, you can throw something out there, and you'll never expect what comes back at you. To wit: Ask the two members of Twinprov about their "origin story," and you'll get a rap: "We started out as a single cell / Split in two, now we're crazy as hell."


The act, comprised of identical twins Buck and Clint Vrazel, has been visible throughout the summer movie season performing its unique, film-riffing raps at advance screenings of blockbusters at the Harkins Bricktown Cinemas. Videos of their raps based on the "Star Trek," "Terminator" and "Transformers" franchises have logged thousands of YouTube hits.

"We're like a very small, mobile, highly trained strike team," Clint Vrazel said. "One day, we'll do a stand-up show, and the next day, we're doing improv, and then out of nowhere, this rapping thing comes along."

The pair got its start by helping found an improv comedy troupe at the University of Oklahoma, known as Obviously Unrehearsed Improv. After graduating, the brothers became charter members of Red Dirt Improv, a local troupe that has been performing for more than a year.

Twinprov began earlier this year as a more personal project, something the siblings could do together. Their show consists of not only improv comedy, but also relating personal stories, playing improv games with audience input, and even composing "instant musicals" from the stage.

"Twinprov is a combination of the worst family therapy you could imagine and some of the best stuff we've ever done comedically and dramatically," Buck Vrazel said.

 O.U. Improv, Red Dirt Improv and Twinprov are just three of the acts that will be featured in this weekend's Improv Festival Oklahoma, held Friday and Saturday at City Arts Center.

Festival organizer Christopher Curtis started out with O.U. Improv, back when it was a loose gathering of parties at a cast member's apartment. He said although there have been troupes in the metro area for some time, he and the other festival organizers wanted to kick-start the creation of a real improv "scene."

"We love what we do, and we want to get more people to love what we do," Curtis said. "There are a lot of improv groups in the area, but there hasn't been a way for us to cross-promote each other and introduce ourselves to each other's fans."

Tyler Bryce, a member of Red Dirt Improv who has studied and performed with groups in Austin and New York City, loved the idea.

"We figured, why not shoot for the moon?" Bryce said. "Why not try to get some really good people to try to come to the festival?"

Curtis said the idea "snowballed" from there, and soon morphed into its current incarnation, much like the art.

"The great thing about improv is that you're so incredibly present in the moment," he said. "You don't know where things are going, and the people you're onstage with don't know where things are going, but you all kind of find it together."

Clint Vrazel agreed: "Once you get onstage, there's all this structure and motion and feeling, and you're like, 'Oh! A structure to riff off of!' It's just like jazz."

The festival's inaugural outing features not only performances by six Oklahoma improv groups, but also by troupes from Denver; Austin, Texas; Atlanta; Chicago; and Minneapolis. The events kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday with shows by Oklahoma City-based Everybody and Their Dog and Tulsa group Spontaniacs.

Headlining Saturday night are Red Dirt Improv and SCRAM, a nationally touring show featuring Jill Bernard and Joe Bill, who is one of the founders of Chicago's famous Annoyance Theatre.

The two-day event also features a Bedlam rivalry showdown with competing troupes Ham Wallet from Stillwater, O.U. Improv and dueling Austin groups ColdTowne Tourco and Shyla Bryan and Pat. The festival also offers a number of improv classes for beginners at 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. both days. Classes are $10 and are open to the general public.

Tickets to the festival are $15 per show, $30 for three shows or $40 for all shows. Improv Festival Oklahoma takes place Friday-Saturday at City Arts Center, 3000 General Pershing.

"?Nathan Gunter


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