I’m fascinating by improvisational theater, and I’ve spent my career studying Chicago improv, the world headquarters for innovative improvisation.
While studying for my PhD at the University of Chicago, I played piano for two years for the campus improv group, Off-Off Campus. It sounds like just another campus activity, but improv theater was invented at the University of Chicago in the 1950s, and several of the actors I played with are now successful writers and actors. We sold out three shows every weekend, and by that I mean every show had 100 people in the audience. Compared with all the bands I’ve played in, this group had the biggest audiences.
From the University of Chicago alumni magazine, here are the top ten most funny/striking/odd one-liners that were spoken on stage, by Off-Off Campus actors, during the 2011-2012 season:
1. “I came into a Papa John’s, not Judgment John’s.”
2. “Mission Accomplished 2: Mission Still Accomplished.”
3. “Chattanooga: The Big Apple.”
4. “It is so hard to find someone who appreciates literature in a beach town.”
5. “I have an underdeveloped story arc because I’m an African American character in an early ’90s movie!”
6. “What do you think happened to Chad? Or Other Dave?”
7. “I am relieved that you have declined the cotton candy. For me it only reminds me of a dream I once had of God.”
8. “Where do you sit at a Rosa Parks convention?” (this one is my personal favorite)
9. “I’m sure ZZ Top would understand.”
10. “Trains are a metaphor for trains.”
* Benjamin Recchie, “Laugh Lines”, “The Core” magazine Winter 2013 page 4.