Covert Improv Night

Maidment Theatre - Musgrove Studio, Auckland

08/09/2010 - 11/09/2010

Production Details

Fresh comedy where no jokes are the same! 

The Covert Theatre, NZ’s premier improvised comedy theatre company presents four nights of rocking good times in their September showcase Covert Improv Night.

Covert Improv Night is rookie improv night where the recent graduates of the community art of improvisation workshop program take to the stage in crash and burn improv comedy. It is hosted by members of The Improv Bandits, NZ’s most successful improvised comedy act. This is where the next generation of improv comedy stars begin their career. The Covert Theatre plays a major role in developing this art form that bridges the gap between comedy and theatre.

Founded in 2001, the Covert Theatre is the country’s leading improvised comedy theatre company. For four years, 2001 – 2005, it ran its own venue in K’ Road revolutionizing comedy theatre in this country and is now based at the Musgrove Studio, Maidment Theatre. 

The Covert Theatre is famous for its shows and training programmes that combine NZ’s leading comedy talent alongside rookies to the stage. People have traveled from as far as Finland, Holland, Sweden, USA and Australia to train at the Covert and learn from what critics have described as ‘improv masters’.  

“The Covert is all about performing high risk improv comedy,” says founder Wade Jackson. “Improv played safe becomes self-indulgent so the secret of our success has been to take huge risks.” These risks have paid off nicely for Jackson, who is a double world improv champion and founding member of internationally renowned improv act The Improv Bandits.

The improv comedy is refreshing and provides much need variety to the Auckland comedy scene.

Covert Improv Night – a different show every night! 

Dates: 8 – 11 September (Wed to Sat)
Venue:  Musgrove Studio, Maidment Theatre
Time: 8.00pm
Tickets:  $15
Bookings: (09) 308 2383 

Featuring: Grant, Yves, Hiroshi, Pri, David, Claire, Nicki, Robyn, Steve, Adrienne, Sujin, Amy and Karen*
*apologies for any incorrect spelling (ED).

Good for more than a few chuckles

Review by Nik Smythe 10th Sep 2010

It’s a quiet Thursday evening on the second of four nights in the Musgrove Studio where thirteen fledgling improvisation artists compete in a series of events in a tournament of the style otherwise known as Theatresports (where the rights to use that title are possessed). 

Big friendly host Wade Jackson puts the small to middling sized audience at ease with some standard quips and an assurance that no audience members shall be brought on stage. They shall however frequently be asked to name locations, props, characters, storylines and so on, which the players must utilise in their valiant efforts to amuse and entertain us with their off-the-cuff theatrical exploits.

Jackson boldly proclaims at the outset that we’re in for “Crash ’n’ Burn Improv At It’s Best!” Whilst the ensuing hour and a half proves this to be something of an exaggeration, there is plenty of laughter, both with and against the plucky contenders for the coveted crown of ‘Joker’. 

The contenders work in randomly selected teams from two to four. In addition to his hosting role, Jackson ‘directs’ from upstage, correcting when players go off track and offering ideas if they get lost. Each team is rated on their scene afterward by the audience on a scale of one to five. A wholly generous crowd gave no scores lower than three, despite numerous instances of actors freezing or floundering.  

Amongst the melee there were many magical moments where it all falls into place, and I found that a poor to average scene could score more points than perhaps they ought to simply by having a strong ending/punchline. The convoluted nature of the setups precludes effectively translating the best moments here which is a shame as it’s one instance where we could give the twists away since they will most likely not be repeated. 

As in any rookie ensemble, there are more and less impressive performers but I’m not inclined to single anyone out playing at this level. One thing I thought was that some players would do well to give more strength to their straight roles – the chat show host for instance; when characters are presented within a convincing, well set scene, half their work is done.

When each round is completed players are eliminated, according to their individual tallies. Where two or more have an equal low score, sudden death rounds are played and at these times some of the audience favourites can be ousted just like that – even if they were the strongest players in their respective team games. Ah well, we were pre-warned by Jackson to “not get too attached to them.”

The purpose of this platform is essentially a training ground for newbie improvisers, mostly freshly graduated this year from Covert’s Art of Improvisation workshops.  It’s a don’t-know-what-you’re-gonna-get sort of contract, but it’s good for a few chuckles. And – who knows? – you might be witness to the genesis of some stellar careers! Or not.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council