Denver improv teams throw down at the Yes! Lab's "Remake Rumble"

There are so many seemingly random elements at play in the Yes! Lab's concept for The Remake Rumble, a seven-week series that starts tonight, they could almost be variables in a long-form improv game. The basic idea: take the plot elements and characters from famous movies and remake them, improv style. But -- the movies are science fiction movies and it's a bracket-style tournament -- a tournament, by the way, in which the team throwing the contest will not be participating. Throw in audience suggestions, and... go!

Actually, the Yes Lab is not really an improv team, either. Started about a year ago, the Lab is an "improvisation training program," and its players are also its students. In part, says Paul Cross, a Yes! Lab instructor and organizer of the Rumble, "the reason I put the whole thing together is to have a weekly venue for the students of Yes! Lab." In keeping with that mission, the Yes! Lab group (called The Sycophants) opens each each night with a little long-form improv, the Lab's specialty.

"It's kind of a little more theatrical than you'll see in short-form, which would be like Whose Line is it Anyway," explains Cross of the distinction. "They just do short games. In long-form, you'll see names and characters recalled, but they're also incorporating audience suggestions, so you can see that it's improvised. So, for example, you'll get a suggestion like 'Nirvana,' say, and whatever that means to the team, they'll come up with scenes and characters based on that suggestion, and then see where it goes."

The long-form style, notes Cross, is ideally suited to a concept like remaking a movie, which provides the basic framework to riff within -- and that's where the contest comes in.

Tonight, and every Monday for the next seven weeks, eight Denver improv teams -- two teams per night -- will compete for audience votes on whose remake of a science fiction classic was best. Tonight's show pits team Intentionally Left Blank against team Gypsy Cab Improv, with the former taking on Lost and the latter taking on Back to the Future. Preliminary rounds take place over the next four weeks, and then the elimination rounds.

The first round starts tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Impulse Theater (Cross is careful to note that it's not an Impulse show, though; the Impulse is just providing the space). Tickets are $8 -- or $5, for some reason, if you say "Daddy-o" at the door. Because at a competition this random, why not?

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Jef Otte
Contact: Jef Otte