Fantastiprov builds on funny foundation

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There was standing room only in the Green Bean last Thursday night, as comedy fans and coffee drinkers packed in eagerly. The furniture was cleared from the back half of the room, opening up a small, makeshift stage for a comedy show.

Still, the members of Fantastiprov—Occidental’s own improvisational comedy troupe—made the most of the space, putting on a show that was clever, absurd, obscene and just plain funny.

Fantastiprov’s six members are Patrick Walsh (junior), Danny Scharar (sophomore), Julia Kingsley (senior), Miriam Hamburger (sophomore), Mac Larsen (sophomore) and Bradley Calder (junior). Throughout the performance each member exhibited their own personal comedic styles, ranging from reserved and satirical to lowbrow slapstick.

The troupe truly hit their stride in a bit in which a nine-year-old boy, played by Walsh, was dragged to the Department of Motor Vehicles on his birthday by his mother. The mother, played by Hamburger, was fed up with caring for her child and wanted him to get his license so he could get a job.

Channeling a confused nine-year-old, Walsh brought the energy right away, screaming things like, “Mom, I’m only nine years old! Labor laws, Mom!”

This character in particular was audience member Eva Schifini’s (sophomore) favorite.

“I liked Patrick’s character of the angry child,” she said. “He really got into it. Did you see how much he was sweating?”

The show became more absurd with each sketch. There was a debate on how to make vegan-friendly clothes from vegetables, followed by a competition between Kanye West and a human-llama hybrid for the love of a dating show contestant.

Calder and Scharar have worked together before, performing on the Las Vegas strip during high school as members of a troupe called Jest Serendipity. The pair even performed at a bar in Vegas owned by heavy metal hall-of-famer Sammy Hagar.

Schifini, who attended high school with Brad and Danny, saw them perform before and had high expectations for their Occidental show.

“I saw them a few times in Vegas, and they were always really funny,” Schifini said.

The rest of the cast had equally impressive chemistry. Each member displayed comedic dexterity and an ability to come up with characters on the spot—a testament to their acting prowess and experience on stage.

For some of the members, their skill can be partially attributed to prior stage experience. Larson came from a family of actors, and Walsh and Hamburger both acted in high school.

“I started in high school, because the only teacher who liked it when I made jokes was the drama teacher, so I figured I’d keep doing it,” Walsh, notorious for his hilarious and overtly-energetic characters, said.

For Hamburger, his high school drama experience included playing a napkin in a stage production of “Beauty and the Beast.”

“I was the most energetic napkin they’d ever seen,” Hamburger said.

Fantastiprov plans to have monthly shows at Occidental, as part of their goal to increase their on-campus presence. With more members, the cast feels that future shows could be even better.

“We’re at six members right now, but ideally we’d like to have nine or 10 of us,” Kingsley said.

In an effort to recruit more members, Fantastiprov will be holding workshops once a month, in addition to bi-weekly practices. Kingsley and Hamburger got their start in improvization at Occidental by attending similar workshops.

“I showed up to a workshop and didn’t even realize it was an audition. I got a callback, and from then on Fantastiprov has been the best thing I’ve been a part of at Occidental,” Kingsley said.

Fantstiprov is also looking to team up with Jest Serendipity, as well as Los Angeles-based comedy groups. According to Kingsley, they dream of taking their act off campus or bringing other groups to Occidental for a comedy festival.

Students interested in performing can make their way to an audition, while those just looking for a laugh can RSVP for the next Fantastiprov event. Both promise even more hilarity as the troupe makes efforts to bolster its already strong roster of comedic talent.