A bit late, but here’s my yearly recap of McGill’s Improv Summit 2010, the improv competition that pits Eastern Canadian universities (both French & English) against each other.
7 teams competed this year: Queens, Carleton and Humber in the first semi-final; and McGill, Ottawa, Brock and UQAM in the second. The format used was “Beat It!”, a format I developed that allows multiple teams to face off against each other. Although it worked rather well, the rules are probably way too complicated. In short, a challenge is issued to a specific team. Once they’ve performed, any other team can try to Beat It. Contested scenes are worth 2 points, while uncontested scenes are worth 1. Strategically, it can make sense to let a scene go unchallenged if it was excellent.
Queens won the harder semi-final by a score of 6 to 4 to 4. McGill won its semi-final 6 to 5 to 5 to 2 (Brock). The judges put UQAM through to the final by giving them the richly deserved wildcard entry.
The final was won easily by UQAM 5 to 2 to 2. The tie for second-place was decided by a dice roll, with McGill edging out Queens as runner-up. The MVP (first star) went to a player from UQAM.
I thought UQAM was head-and-shoulders above the other teams. They used their huddle time well and performed tight simple stories. The other teams had trouble consistently putting together coherent stories with any stakes, and yet, there were definitely some nice moments.
Here is a selection of my favourite scenes in the order they happened:
Carleton: “I’m Here on Official Business”. A restauranteur tries to hide a dead body (played by an audience member) from health inspectors. This was one of only two scenes to go unchallenged.
Queens: “Billy Didn’t Speak Like the Other Kids”. The new kid in class is straight from Elizabethan England.
Humber: “It’s in the Subway”. A sound-effects-only scene about a guy working at Subway Sandwiches who uses a light-saber to slice meat.
UQAM: “Love at First Sight”. A woman goes to New Zealand to meet Frodo Baggins, but ends up meeting the eye of Sauron instead.
UQAM: “I’ll Tell You Everything I Know”. Police officers in a coffee shop don’t know the crime they’re trying to solve is happening in an adjacent room. The victim acts like a diva when made to record a ransom videotape.
UQAM: “This Is What I’m Known For”. The Protector will protect the Chosen One at all costs. Too bad he’s only playing a video game and the chosen one is the baby he’s neglecting in the real world.
McGill: “There is Nothing Strange about Miss Chanteclerc” Two players talk to their dead mother, thus rising to the challenge of a 2.5-player scene. Pretty dark and gutsy performance on this one.
UQAM: “Denial” (set to music). A cheating wife hides her 2 lovers as her husband comes home. This was the second scene to go unchallenged.
Queens: “The Teacher and The Pupil” A latin class with a lot of made-up latin words.