This fall, one of the city's most active and daring improv companies is calling it quits (or quilts, as their Web site has it): well hung jury is breaking up.
The Jury's Out
Improv is not forever. Instant theatre seems by its very nature to come and go, and so it is with the companies who engage in this special art form. This fall, one of the city's most active and daring improv companies is calling it quits (or quilts, as their Web site has it): well hung jury is breaking up. The company, known for its restless and audacious attempts to play with the improv form and take it in new directions (not to mention new locations), got its start in 1998 when the principals were still high school students. Jeremy Lamb, James Aldredge, Jeff Amos, Jon Benner, Aaron Saenz, and Ben Sterling put on a sketch show at Westwood High School, and it proved successful enough that they began exploring other avenues of performance. The guys moved on to UT, and over the next five years, Ace Manning, Jordan Maxwell, Amy McCurdy, Audrey Sansom, and Bill Stern joined the ranks of the jury as they developed a command of improv structures, a loyal base of fans, and a passion for push-the-envelope weirdness. Yes, it was well hung jury that brought you Improv in Weird Places, with its questionably legal performances on a Capital Metro bus, in a river, and at the state Capitol, among other venues. And there was whj's 2000 shot at the world record for Longest Continual Improvised Narrative (27 hours, but unfairly ignored by the Guinness Book!), which was followed the next year by a shot at the record for Shortest Scripted Work. One measure of the mark that the jury made was its acceptance nationally, through participation in Big Stinkin' International Improv and Sketch Comedy Festival 4, Chicago Improv Festival 5 and 6, and Orlando's FoolFest 2001. And they founded their own fest, the Out of Bounds Improv Festival and Miniature Golf Tournament.
Last week, the troupe embarked on its Farewell Tour, with gigs in Wichita Falls; Dallas; Tulsa, Okla.; Jackson, Miss.; and Baton Rouge, La. This week, they launched the first of a pair of shows at their alma mater, Westwood High (Wednesday, Sept. 3, and Wednesday, Sept. 13), and they'll follow those with a weekend at The Hideout (Friday and Saturday, Sept. 12 and 13). At the end of the month, the jury will host the 2003 Out of Bounds Improv Festival (Sept. 24-27), featuring the jury and 17 other troupes. The troupe's last show is scheduled for Oct. 11 at Scottish Rite Theatre, 207 W. 18th. For more information, visit www.wellhungjury.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.