by Kelly Rae Smith
Keep a close eye on the IMPROVables, a brand new Charleston comedy troupe specializing in a Whose Line Is It Anyway-style game. These funny people found each other in various spots on the local comedy scene and made their ties official in May, when they gave the group a name. It's not even the end of the summer, and their calendar is already filling up as they set out to take over Charleston.
The eight-person troupe comprises Moey Conway, Brian Carter, Deshawn Christopher Mason, Steve LaRowe, Kari Hanson, Lain Healey, Robert Thomas, and Kat LeeHong. Their backgrounds are all over the place, from a bartender to a student to a U.S. Army lieutenant. Take Carter, the co-leader of the pack. He's an acupuncturist turned digital marketing consultant and stand-up extraordinaire, and he takes his act so seriously that he has a carefully composed spreadsheet detailing every joke he's told, the audience's reaction, and its geographical context. But it takes a good organizer or two to get an idea off the ground, which is what happened when he met Moey Conway. She's a Chicago-trained improviser and local comedian who hosts a stand-up night at Castaways Bar and Grille, where the IMPROVables first debuted.
"We were both frustrated and wanted to make more happen for ourselves," Carter says. "When I learned she had eight years of improv background, I suggested we get together and do some games. We initially thought we'd do a two-person show. But before we knew it, we had invited several people to join in."
Those who hopped on board all took a big chance. Some have worked in comedy for years, but for a couple of them, getting all unpredictable onstage in front of an expectant audience is a risk they've taken on fairly recently. But with a full set involving around 20 games that include audience participation, the laughs are already rolling in, as are the bookings. It seems all agree this crew is a miraculous mashup.
'Everyone is a vital part of the group and more importantly, they make amazing friends," Mason says. "It's really incredible when you're able to find a group synergy that makes whatever task that you've set out to complete seem easy. First step improv, next step world domination. You know, in the name of vigilante justice."
Catch the IMPROVables on Sept. 6 at Woolfe Street Playhouse and Sept. 19 and Oct. 11 at the James F. Dean Theater in Summerville.