Face-Off Brawl is a comedy battle. Witness a one-night only show including two indie improv teams compete to win over your audience votes.
This live event gives each team only about 20 minutes to show you what they have to offer. You'll see whatever they choose to do with that time. Often this is a standard improv set where they might introduce themselves, ask for ideas from the audience, and create theatre scenes and make up comedic characters.
As an audience member, you might be asking: What is an indie team? As a group of improvisers, an indie team performs in shows of their own making. They choose their members in whatever way they see fit.
At the end of the two staged sets, any of you in the audience can decide which you pick based on whatever secret criteria you like.
Improvisor and stand up comic Brian Leonard produces and hosts the show each month. Brian performs with Batmath, a Baltimore Improv Group house team on Tuesday's Harold Night.
"The Face-Off Brawl is more than just an indie improv competition," Brian said. "It's an ancient sacrificial tradition that has been upheld by its stewards, the timeless spirits Chip Richardz and Jenny Flip Flops, for as long as anyone can remember."
Chip and Jenny serve as the competitions regular host characters. Respectively performed by Brian along with co-host Sam Van Sant – the hosts present the show through their weird points of view that repeat attendees will begin to recognize.
Unlike a house team where the theater creates guidelines for performers, an indie team itself decides what type of show they want to create. They have no outside forces, theater, or teacher mandating their schedules and team dynamics unless they choose to hire and pay a coach.
While some indie teams create formal improv bibles and guidelines, most just wing it and create comedy through discussions and group dynamics.
An indie team might follow common thoughts and ideas about what makes a show successful. They might throw all of those ideas out. They can make up new and wild rules of their own. They can choose to rehearse way more or significantly less than your average team.
An indie team show could be all about plot and narrative, focused on organically following what they love, or the main goal of the team might just be to get together as friends.
"Challengers come from far and wide to try their luck at achieving glory," Brian said. According to his bio, Brian initially practiced comedy in Rochester, N.Y. before moving to Baltimore.
You'll often see the hosts of Face-Off Brawl present other fun moments and traditions. These connect the audience with the group on stage creating a shared language for a one night only live experience.
"But even those who lose (and are, unfortunately, sacrificed to the Blood Gods) find that honor has been brought to their family name," Brian said. "As they have taken part in the many spirit-cleansing rituals the brawl has to offer, including the recitation of an improvised poem-prayer and a theater-wide half-time Bacchanal. It is a joyous and life-affirming experience for everyone involved."
For August 2019, Face-Off Brawl shows take place every Friday night at 10 pm at The BIG Theater in Baltimore's Station North Arts & Entertainment District. For more dates and times, please visit our show calendar
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