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Sat., June 28 @ 8PM
Providence Improv Festival
Perishable Theater
95 Empire St.
Providence, RI

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Wed., June 25 @ 6PM
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Laughing Stock
Off Broadway Theatre
272 S. Main St.

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Fri., June 20 @ 7:30PM
Fri., June 20 @ 10PM
Laughing Stock
Off Broadway Theatre
272 S. Main St.


JoKyR and Jesster Press
Improv class teaches professionals new tricks
by Fraser Sherman
Staff Writer - The Destin Log

One man checked his watch in frustration while his neighbor clenched her fists. Moments later, Sammy Wegent pummeled the floor in frustration, while Laley Lippard quietly crumpled up and collapsed inward in despair. No, Wegent and Lippard weren’t in a psych ward. Along with other members of Seaside’s SPF-7 improv troupe, they spent Saturday afternoon training under Jesse Parent and Joseph Kyle Rogan — the Salt Lake City improv duo JoKyR and Jesster — in bringing stronger characterization and emotion to improv.

“I love taking classes on anything that applies to what I do,” Wegent, the head of SPF-7 said in an interview. “I love seeing other people’s viewpoints, I especially love learning from people I’ve seen on stage and respect.”

Parent said its easy for improv performers to rely on a small set of stock characters they can work into whatever scene they’re given to play, so he and Rogan push students to see a greater range of possibilities. Rogan said he and Parent also teach students to “find the game,” the emotional plot thread that can anchor a scene: “A lot of scenes meander because (the performers) never figure out the point — they’re second-guessing themselves. They need to latch on to a single pattern and play that pattern out to its conclusion.”

Parent said SPF-7 invited JoKyR and Jesster to attend last week’s Gulf Coast Comedy Festival in Seaside and teach a couple of classes after the two groups met at a Toronto improv festival. Saturday’s students included Wegent, Lippard and other SPF-7 members, plus festival participants Matt Lang and Leo Mendoza, who work with a Chicago improv troupe. Lang said he signed up because it’s hard for him to work heightened emotion into his improv performances.

In one two-person exercise, the class were told to invest a mundane activity — licking stamps, emptying the dishwasher — with intense emotion. In another, performers were given job assignments — cop, firefighter, logger — and encouraged to react emotionally to whatever their partner said. “You shot an innocent bystander!” Wegent, in the role of a cop, gasped. “Yeah! My first one!” Lippard responded with glee. The skit concluded with them shooting each other.

Parent said “vendor” skits where the characters are defined by their jobs require more work to develop an emotional connection. In another exercise, the students had to repeat the last thing they hear, add “and” and take the emotion or situation further. “Emotion is important,” Rogan said. “We need to be manipulated by everything our partner is doing.”

Fraser Sherman can be reached at (850) 654-8442 and Fraser_Sherman@link.freedom.com.


JoKyR and Jesster is coached by Micki Jo Rogan. All pictures except Joe Rogan's head shot and where noted courtesy of Heather Franck. Joe's head shot courtesy of Marc Reynolds.
JoKyR and Jesster is a Highly Irregular Production, centered in Salt Lake City, Utah..