‘On The Spot Improv’ celebrates first live performance since COVID-19

Members of Kansas State's "On The Spot Improv" pose in front of a whiteboard featuring doodles of themselves. This is the first live performance for the group since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020. (Jared Shuff | Collegian Media Group)

On The Spot Improv — Kansas State’s improvisational comedy group — hosted a live performance Monday night, its first since the pandemic hit nearly a year ago. The night featured debates about the sexiness of minotaurs, a dramatic retelling of “Finding Nemo” and cream cheese bagel-related sexual innuendos.

“Sex with Brett is like a bagel with cream cheese; it’s better when it’s whipped,” Joe Dotterweich, sophomore in criminology, said.

Dotterweich joined On The Spot Improv last fall, only having one semester of in-person experience before transitioning to Zoom performances. He said the transition wasn’t easy.

“I thrive on being around people, so to basically be told ‘You can’t be around people,’ and for improv to switch to a completely virtual format was really a rough transition,” Dotterweich said.

Kailey Meacham, senior in wildlife and conservation biology and president of On The Spot Improv, had similar feelings regarding the sudden shift to virtual performances.

“You just don’t have that same energy, and not having an audience is a big thing,” Meacham said. “Tonight we have our audience. It’s limited, but it’s gonna be very exciting to actually have people.”

Party hats, a game of “pin the horn on the unicorn” and the instrumental soundtrack to the musical “Mamma Mia” greeted audience members as they walked into Forum Hall.

The show consisted of several short-form games similar to “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” and a 20-minute long-form piece. All topics and scenes are made up “on the spot” and members have to feed off each other to keep the scene moving.

“It’s beautiful and scary and I love every second of it,” Dotterweich said.

The long-form piece opened with the concept of the popular computer game “Among Us” as a musical. An actor could either replace one actor and continue the scene or change the scene entirely. The “Among Us” musical transformed into a dramatic retelling of “Finding Nemo,” then to an argument between a man and his daughter over her obsession with actor Kevin James.

Later in the same piece, two actors threw themselves on the ground and said they were shoes, attaching themselves to the feet of another actor, who then dragged them across the stage. The whole evening was one chaotic skit after the next, and nobody knew what to expect — not even the actors.

“Our main goal is to just have fun together,” Meacham said. “You also get to know the team super well because up there you just have to trust each other.”

“It’s never the same,” Dotterweich said. “The beauty of improv is it ends and it will never be the same again. No scene can be repeated, so whatever you’re given, you gotta run with that.”

Canyon Liby, senior in accounting and audience member, said this was his first time watching the group in two years. A friend told him about the live show.

“I didn’t know that it was open anymore, so Maddie told me that we could come in-person,” Liby said.

Liby said he enjoyed the long-form piece the most, along with a short-form game where actors had to eat saltine crackers every time they made the audience laugh. He also said he’ll attend more performances in the future.

While COVID-19 shifted the way many organizations function, On The Spot Improv has done what it does best — improvise.

“We had to adjust but, you know, as rough as it was — still some good memories … but it’s definitely great to be back here,” Dotterweich said.

My name is Jared Shuff, and I am a former editor-in-chief of the Collegian. Previously, I worked as the arts & culture editor and as a contributing writer for the news desk. I am a senior in secondary education with an emphasis in English/journalism. I grew up in Hutchinson, Kansas, and attended Hutchinson Community College before transferring to K-State in 2020.