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YAP’s improv show acts as crowd-pleaser

Youth and Teen Comedy Improv Show actors and actresses (left to right) Sascha Braide, Keller Lehmkuhl, Joshua Kofsky and Lord Cotson create an oracle and give their March 10 audience advice during the show at Malibu City Hall. Photos by Suzy Demeter/22nd Century Media
(Left to right) Holly Brown, Lincoln Raju-Johnson and Ashlyn Kunerth perform in the improv game “New Choice,” one of several skits performed March 10 in Malibu’s Youth and Teen Comedy Improv Show.
Young Actors Project improv performers (left to right) Elijah Braide, Eden Meyers and Balian Jones play the improv game “Growing and Shrinking.”
(Left to right) Elizabeth Kushner, Mission IMPROVable actor Byron Kennerly and Noah Craig improvise a scene in Starbucks during the game “Half-Life.”
Barbara Burke, Freelance Reporter
10:48 am PDT March 14, 2017

Nothing is quite so fun as starting the weekend with a group of excited middle and high school students waiting for their classmates and friends to perform an improv show. 

On Friday, March 10, the Young Actors Project and the City of Malibu hosted a Youth and Teen Comedy Improv Show at Malibu City Hall’s Civic Theater.

Once again, Young Actors Project Executive Director Shoshana Kuttner, who has offered youth acting programs in Malibu for more than a decade, worked her magic.

The young actors were aided in developing their extemporaneous creativity by Holly Brown, Byron Kennerly and Bryce Wissel of Westside Comedy Theater’s Mission IMPROVable.  

“This is improv ...  anything goes,” Brown said as she introduced the show. 

Performers Balian Jones, Diego Greenberg, Ilana Kushner-Stubbs and Eden Meyer opened the show with a game called “What are you doing?” 

“I’m Goldilocks ... this porridge is too hot,” an actor said, pantomiming the scene.  

“What are you doing?” her replacement asked.

“I’m chasing seagulls on the beach,” the actor said.  

“I’m electrocuting myself!” the next actor said, as the audience hooted.

“Well, I’m stalking my ex-wife!” retorted the next actor, winning the one-upmanship exercise, much to the delight of the onlookers.

Perhaps one of the hardest scenes to pull off was acting out a game entitled “New Choice,” which required the actors to pivot mid-sentence to act out yet another spontaneous scene with, quite literally, milliseconds of notice. Mission IMPROVable’s Brown, joined by Lincoln Raju-Johnson and Ashlyn Kunerth, superbly acted out the high-energy, electrifying scenes.

The climax of the show came when Brown had to decipher other actors’ gibberish and exaggerated antics in order to deduce she was riding on a unicorn on a hover quad in the 1920s with Fat Elvis, Goldilocks and, as the current political times might dictate, Congress, on a trip to Atlantis. 

The astonished audience squealed in delight.

As a wonderful, uproarious evening ended, Kuttner received a standing ovation.

“It takes so much courage to come up here onto the stage with no scripts,” Kuttner said. “All of our youth performers did something so brave.”

The audience agreed.

“I thought it was just fantastic,” Clifford Selbert said. “It was creative, spontaneous and very funny!”

Beaming with smiles, the cast members gathered to indulge in root beer floats.

“I just started to do improv,” said 10-year-old Tara DeLuca. “It’s really fun. I think kids should do it. You make up stuff as you go and start to talk as soon as ideas pop into your head.”

A glowing, smiling Kuttner agreed.

“I loved the show!” she said proudly. “These kids are awesome. If you set the bar high, they’ll reach it.”