Yesterday, I reprised my role as host of the McGill Improv Summit. Now in its 7th year, the Summit is an improv competition between (typically) eastern Canadian universities. It has spawned other summits at Carlton, University of Toronto and Queens. Its most endearing feature is the participation of teams from French-speaking universities, usually performing in English for the first time, and often winning.
This year’s competition featured teams from perennials McGill and UQAM, along with teams from the University of Ottawa and Queens University. For the fifth year in a row, Summit organizers opted for an LNI-style format of challenges issued by the host and scenes judged by the audience. Professional judges were on-hand to hand out awards throughout the night, including “Best Hair and Laugh by an audience member” and “Really? Berstein as the money-grubbing lawyer? Really?”
In the first semi-final, UQAM beat the University of Ottawa 4-2. Some highlights of this round included:
- UQAM: “Cheating”: A husband’s office dalliance with his secretary is discovered by his wife and kid
- UQAM: “What really happened at the fall of Rome?” An effete and ineffectual Caesar spent too much time tickling to win the war
- U of Ottawa: “Cats & Dogs” A ranger patrolling a park hands out tickets to people walking dogs and savage humans. (In song!)
- UQAM: Member’s Only Club: Rich anglos throw a francophone off a cruise ship to the discomfort of some in the audience. They did win this challenge, though.
- U of Ottawa: “This 8-year old kid is not like the others” A musical scene about a kid with his hand down his pants, delivered by the night’s 3rd star Emily.
In the second semi-final, Queens beat McGill 4-2. Some highlights of this round included:
- McGill: “Your signature is required” A scene about lawyers trying to get a couple teetering on the edge of divorce to finish the deal. My favourite line of the night was: “She has divorce written all over her, and so do these papers.”
- Queens & McGill: “The recession is bad in places you might not expect” A mixed scene in a beauty salon about receding hairlines.
- Queens: “Ambition” A scene about Ambition, the fragrance. A woman sprays people with Ambition and watches them change into ambitious people. People in wheel chairs need not apply. This was possibly the best scene of the night
The final was close and was ultimately won by UQAM 3-2 in the last scene. Highlights were:
- Queens: “Try to be polite” A girl brings a bear home to meet her parents.
- UQAM & Queens: “The trans-Siberian railroad” A murder aboard the train has incompetent detectives trying to figure out what happened.
- UQAM: “Revenge” A fantastic silent scene set to sinister music in which a man stalks members of a dance troupe
- Queens: “Revenge” Another fantastic silent scene set to quirky music in which two roommates compete in a bathroom. This challenge was the high point of the night.
UQAM’s Guillaume was award the MVP award, and a feller from Queens got the 2nd star.
Christopher Dye, now a Montreal lawyer, would be pleased that the Summit he helped create is still going strong to this day. We miss his in-game commentary.
Historical recap of winners:
2003: UQAM (other teams: U of Ottawa (runner-up?), John-Abott (3rd place?), 2 McGill teams, Concordia, U de Sherbrooke, Carleton)
2004: McGill (held at Concordia, other teams: Concordia (runner-up?), UQAM (3rd place?), Concordia-Loyola, Queen’s, Carleton, Champlain College, U de Sherbrooke.)
2005: McGill (Recap) (other teams: UQAM (runner-up))
2006: UQAM (Recap) (other teams: McGill (runner-up), Carleton, Princeton)
2007: Université d’Ottawa (la LIEU) (Recap 1, 2) (other teams: UQAM (runner-up), U of Toronto/Humber College (3rd place), McGill, U de Sherbrooke, U de Montreal, Carleton U)
2008: University of Toronto (other teams: UQAM (runner-up), Humber College (3rd place), McGill, Carleton, U of Ottawa)
2009: UQAM (other teams: Queens (runner-up), McGill, Ottawa)
Edited later to add:
2010: UQAM (Recap) (other teams: McGill and Queens (tie for 2nd place), U of Ottawa, Carleton, Humber, Brock)
2011: UQAM (Recap 1 2) (other teams: Carleton (2nd place), Queens (3rd place), Brock, McGill, U of Toronto)
2012: McGill (other teams: Toronto (2nd place), Brock (3rd place), Queens, Carleton, UQAM, U of Ottawa, Western)
2013: University of Toronto (other teams: Western (2nd place), Queens (3rd place), Brock, Carleton, Ottawa, McGill)