A family ate Thanksgiving dinner at a TGI Friday’s while standing on their chairs. An awkward woman was eaten alive by a blue manta ray. A ghost danced around a Russian bathhouse. These are only a few of the improvised scenes that unfolded during the Spare Tires Improv Festival, Third Wheel Improv’s inaugural two-day festival last Friday and Saturday in Lerner’s Black Box Theatre.
Members of Third Wheel were inspired to create the festival after attending a similar event at Georgetown University last year. The group ultimately decided to branch out with its curation for the festival by including a lineup of groups at Barnard, Columbia, and other universities from around the country.
Third Wheel captured the audience at the end of each show as the only group to perform both nights, but the group did not overshadow the variety of admirable acts that came before them. Friday night’s first performance consisted solely of those from around New York City: NYU’s After School Improv, Columbia/Barnard’s Control Top, and Fordham’s Stove’s Cabin Crew.
The highlight of NYU’s performance was a scene they created about a strange woman named Gina who begins an affair with a man and his entire family, forcing his children to choose between Gina and their real mother. The absurd yet convincing family dynamics were engrossing, and the audience laughed with surprise and delight at each wacky turn the plotline took.
The second night of the festival on Saturday featured comedy troupes such as Bowdoin’s Improvabilities, Oberlin’s Kid Business, Columbia/Barnard’s Fruit Paunch, and the University of Delaware’s Rubber Chickens.
Fruit Paunch started off a bit slow, but the group kept its confidence up and its signature herald—the comedic device performers use which involves weaving one storyline throughout their entire set—came off feeling finished.
Delaware’s Rubber Chickens’ first couple of scenes were awkward and barely felt comedic, but the group found its footing in the end with some well-constructed characters.