Improv group looking for a few good actors

If you’ve ever watched Whose Line Is It Anyway? and thought you could do the job, you might be the type of person for Laughing Room Only, a new local improv group that’s looking for a few extra actors.

Jennifer Rae, founder and director of Laughing Room Only, started the group in September. The group, which includes Rae, Leslie Newcomb, Paul Dancer and William Davison, first performed at the Stock Exchange on Fourth Street but later moved on to Kicks Nightclub, where they’ve been playing for the past few months. The group was playing Sunday nights but wasn’t getting much of a draw, so they switched to Friday nights.

“It’s made a world of difference,” Rae said, adding that they can get a crowd ranging from 20 to 60 people. She said that bowlers from the ABC Championship Tournament are in the audience, but a lot of locals come out as well.

The group acts out a scenario based on a chosen topic that audience members suggest. Popular topics include jobs, schools, casinos, the proposed downtown train trench—and, almost always, bowling. The group will take any suggestion, as long as the subject matter is clean.

“We’re more family-oriented,” Rae said of the group. “We want people to know they can bring their kids, grandmas … anybody.”

After graduating from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., with a bachelor’s degree in theater, Rae returned to her Reno hometown in 1993. She worked with a local chapter of the improv group Comedy Sports for a while before starting Funny People in 1995, when the Comedy Sports chapter disbanded. Then, when Funny People ended, she headed back to Washington and worked with various improv groups.

Since returning to Reno a few years ago, she said she’s been impressed by how much the theater scene has grown. Although she occasionally auditions for local theater productions, she said she prefers the freedom of improv. It doesn’t demand as much time from players, and the group doesn’t have to worry about things such as scripts, royalties or detailed props.

But improv can be more challenging, because you’re relying on your wits and imagination, according to Rae.

“Improv is key to all types of theater,” she said. “If you can do improv, you can do all kinds of theater … film, TV, [live] theater.”

Rae said that when the group started last year, she wanted to keep Laughing Room Only’s visibility low-key for a while, until she felt there was enough interest among the public and the players to support an improv group. But now, Rae feels confident enough to publicize the group and open up membership to those who are interested.

The group recently held auditions April 10 at Kicks and gained three potential players. Rae said her goal is to have 10 members in Laughing Room Only, and she plans to hold another audition next month. She said she’s looking for people who are quick on their feet and aren’t afraid to look silly.

Laughing Room Only performs free shows at 8 p.m. Fridays at Kicks Nightclub, located in the National Bowling Stadium, 300 N. Center St. For more information on Laughing Room Only, call 351-2275.