I've inferred from a fellow improviser's comments on my facebook page that he sees Spite's makeover blitz as borrowed interest. (Or he might just be bored. Sometimes it's difficult to tell.)
Mmmmmaaaybe. But I don't think so.
A lot of things make it tough to market an improv troupe or show in KC. Let's start with:
- Getting attention
- Helping people understand—better still, appreciate—the difference between your group and others
- Convincing friends to come to your show next time, instead of some time
The KC Improv Festival originated years and years ago not only as a way to meet other people who did what we did, but as a media hook: It was news. Thunderdome has a hook.
Besides the "they're guys, we're girls" thing, Spite's shows with Loaded Dice don't really have a hook. And not enough people know our groups do quality work to seek them out—especially since we don't have regularly scheduled performances.
We paid part of the rent out of our own pockets last time, and I don't think any of us were interested in doing that again.*
The idea of going public with the makeover we'd planned for months just kind of happened. Makeover shows are ridiculously popular—who doesn't love to see the duckling to swan transformation?—so we thought we'd make a fuss about ours.
Dude. There are a ton of improv groups in KC. KCiF has expanded to four nights, and even with more spots, some of the newer ones aren't playing.
Even with it comes to the older ones, people can't always name the group they just saw. They might know they saw an improv show at the Flea Market or the Coffeehouse, but names? They don't always stick.
And newspaper blurbs don't help much. Your format and your reviews are about the only helpful ways of writing a differentiated descriptions. Saying you're fast-paced, funny, topical, intelligent, character-driven...OK, let's play a game.
Guess the troupe from this snippet from the first sentence or so of their description on the KCiF site. More importantly, try to figure out why you should go see them. (I've let some go longer because they eventually get to a point. Makes me want to go back and rewrite some shit.) Click to find out who it is.
- This group formed in March, 2007, as the house team of (a theater), and has performed nearly 100 shows all over northeast Kansas since that time. (The group)
never fails to deliver with its blend of fun, memorable games as well as a series of one-act plays made up completely before your eyes.
- This group has entertained Kansas City since 2000, and in the last four years the group has been featured in improv festivals in Chicago, Dallas, and the Twin Cities. It is the only group at KCIF to regularly perform short-form improv games as well as more artistic long-form sets, often in the same shows.
- Ever since being established in October 2007, this group has quickly become the only longform improv group in (their city)
. Comprised entirely of University of Kansas students, they bring a fresh-faced enthusiasm to the grizzled Kansas City improv scene.
- This group is Kansas City's original and longest running Improvisational Comedy show.
has been producing shows every weekend for over 22 years!! That's a lot of laughs! Their...format pits two teams of "actletes" against one another in a fast paced improvised competition where every game is based on different suggestions from the audience.
- This group is a four man improv troupe that has a history in short form games and expanded their rapid fire wit to the long form arena. Their style is fast paced, character driven and relatable.
- This group is an experimental comedy group that works in sketch comedy, short and long form improvisation, stand-up and dance. ... (their)
mission is to explore, invent and produce live comedy shows which combine a unique blend of performance styles while providing audiences with an entertaining experience.
- This group formed in part because we wanted to compete in Improv Thunderdome and mostly because we never seemed to get enough stage time together playing with our co-ed troupe..
- This group, an animated short-form improv comedy troupe, is bringing their HOT NEW SEXY comedy to the KC stage. So sit back, relax, and enjoy some of your favorite games... Or jump up out of your seat and join them onstage for some wild new ones!
- Intriguing characters. Hilarious scenes. No scripts. Seven players fuse experience and wit, normalcy and absurdity, the real and the surreal. This group brings together seven of Kansas City's most experienced, critically acclaimed improvisers...
- As the origin story goes, four improvisers were exposed to a liquid mutagen during a traffic accident. The mutagen caused the improvisers to become more human-like in intelligence and dexterity. Also exposed to the mutagen is one member of this group, an improviser once owned by a improvutsu expert named Hamato Yoshi. As a fantastically talented improviser,
taught himself the art of improv by mimicking Yoshi during his practice sessions.
Sense of urgency
Part of the reason Tantrum invites guest monologists is to give people a specific reason to see that show. Our benefit for the Feisty Devils MS 150 team with Scott Sjoberg last month not only blew his personal fundraising goal out of the water—it drew a bigger-than-average crowd of people who'd never seen our show.
Other than the fact that there's a looooong time between shows, there's no real reason you should see one Spite show over another.
Friends who've always said, "I'd love to see you play some time" are planning to see this show to find out what Daryl & Amy and Monique , our wardrobe and hair and makeup stylists. (Of course, whether they show remains to be seen...but there's more interest than usual.)
The videos are showing up on our stylists' facebook pages, and their friends are interested to see what they've done—so we have a chance to expand our audience base.
The videos show a little of our personalities, which turns us into real people and not just another clump of comedians. And because no one else has done anything like this, it helps us stand out.
The makeover videos posted on our site have driven traffic up 1,364.71%.
Exactly how well will this work? Who knows. But it's been an interesting experiment. Not to mention a hell of a lot of fun to do.
*Another question: Is the show all of a sudden about Spite and not as much about Loaded Dice? Not at all—we get equal stage time in the show. Both of our logos are on the poster and the promotional materials. But we're producing this show, and we can't force other players to send e-mails, hang posters and invite people to facebook events. Besides, we're not about to tell the guys what to wear.