Keeping up with the Kimprov was a really entertaining hour of reality TV comedy improvisation. It featured imaginative performances from a charismatic group of actor-comedians and ticked the main and most important “improv box” as far as I was concerned – being funny.
A Kardashian pastiche inspired by various audience prompts (which on the show’s opening night included a goldfish and bad smells), the narrative and characters were convincing, even as their names were humorously confused by other members of the cast. The show developed several strong character dynamics – Toria White and Persephone Tsebelis’ tensely dysfunctional relationship was a notable highlight. This particular relationship was assisted massively by the awkward deadpan of Toria and made for an absurd and funny dynamic between the two. Characterisation above all else was the strength of Kimprov – Naima Clarvis pulled off a fantastic sassy, gap-yah daughter to father Aardvark, played brilliantly and eccentrically by Yuhang Xie.
The Improv group were greatly imaginative in their performance, which the tickled audience seemed to appreciate. There was some wonderfully random and hilarious use of the main show’s set to mimic a ski slope along with some consciously unconvincing miming of carrying and keeping a goldfish. Particularly inventive moments included Yuhang (as Aardvark) drinking from a non-existent glass despite the availability of glasses on the set.
The minimalist yet distinct lighting, namely the use of a white spotlight, made for some fantastic pauses and transitions. It succeeded in developing the ridiculousness of characters, especially in the case of Aardvark’s insecure son played compellingly by Jack Sullivan. We learn their private thoughts and get access to skilfully portrayed flash-backs. These flashbacks were perhaps most indicative of the funny quick-thinking of the cast – Naima and Persephone had no issue performing an impromptu dance-off when prompted.
What greatly impressed me was the comedic chemistry between actors. Not once did the improvisers seem particularly put-off by newly introduced and frequently rather absurd plot twists. For instance, a fleeting reference to a mole on one of Aardvark’s twin daughters’ faces at the start of the performance was dedicatedly kept to throughout the hour-long performance; so was Chris’ (played by Toria White) desire to be sculpted by a member of his girlfriend’s wacky and confusing family.
The primary weakness of the show for me was the length of its single plot. I felt that one improvised plot was unnecessarily pursued for the hour. Consequently, the show was lacking in originality towards the end as scenes, similar in atmosphere and content, seemed to be repeated a fair amount. Three twenty-minute or even two half-hour separate improvisations, assisted by new and original audience prompts, would have made for a more constantly entertaining show. I do recognise that contending with three separate short plots can pose directorial challenges but I’m sure what is, without doubt, a very imaginative and confident cast, could have developed more variety.
Kimprov is worth going to watch. Funny and impressively performed, despite getting a bit over-indulgent towards the end, it is a great showcase of a truly impressive realm of comedy performance.