By: David DiPino Contributing Writer
Casey Casperson leaps on stage interjecting himself into a Sick Puppies Comedy Improv on the subject of pumpernickel bread exactly at the time a funny back-and-forth between seven improvisers’ hints it might finally be getting stale.
Casperson, a Boca Raton resident, claps his hands to enter the scene with an antidote as quick as Usain Bolt running a 100 Meter sprint. During the scene, he wastes no time at all switching the gears on the topic while still supporting the previous actor.
“The show is new every week. We take from other cultures but in the end humans are naturally funny. It’s really challenging to listen and react simultaneously. The audience enjoys that type of character driven work,” Capserson said.
Casperson has trained his mind to act with improvisation. He and his comedy improv troupe exude confidence while commanding the audience’s attention.
In the crowd, jaws drop, eyes bulge followed by a crescendo of laughter. Hard to believe this improvisation created by the Sick Puppies Comedy Improv troupe is just act one, on the subject of bread and lasted an entire 10 minutes. Audience members squirm like they have ants in their pants at the opportunity to be one of the two asked up onstage for each of the following six acts. The audience members suggest most if not all of the topics at Sick Puppies Comedy Improv performances.
“Sometimes we’ll get everything from the audience. Who, what, when, where and why?” Casperson said.
The scene starting with pumpernickel bread is one of seven acts during a recent performance ranging from the subjects of Marioland to mesothelioma, Publix to saline and finally paranormal activity. All of which happened in one performance of just around two hours.
Each month Casperson leads up to a dozen Sick Puppies Comedy Improv events and improvisation classes at Center Stage Performing Arts, a theater dance and comedy company located at 7200 W. Camino Real Road, Suite 330, in south Boca Raton.
Sick Puppy Comedy Improvs consist of Casperson’s beginning students to improvisers with years, even decades of talent. Sick Puppy Comedy Improv beginner students cross over five levels taught by Casperson. Beginners have the opportunity to test their new improv skills as a group in 30-minute showcases at the start of Sick Puppies Comedy Show. Casperson said this helps students build and improve confidence in front of live audiences each month. Sick Puppies Comedy (SPC) Improv classes last seven-weeks and students get to see up to twelve shows a month at the venue for free. Unlimited monthly SPC show passes to enjoy improv as an audience member are just $9.99.
“Everyone has their own brand of improv,” Casperson said.
Casperson points to students who put in the work in seven-minute acts. He said, the more you work on improvisation the more you learn about yourself, build improvisation skills and get to know other individuals you may not know much about all during quick, improv encounters.
“It’s learning the predictability of being able to understand the people you spend time with. The job of improv is to make each other look good. The funny part comes when you build the scene up. Listen, accept and react,” Casperson said.
Ryan Lieber, public relations manager for Tenet Health’s five Palm Beach County based hospitals, joined the Sick Puppies Comedy Improv troupe a little over three years ago. Lieber said he needed something else in his life besides just going to work, hitting the gym on the way home and then going home. He googled “improv Palm Beach County” and attended a Sick Puppies Comedy Improv show night. Lieber has been a dedicated member of the troupe ever since.
“Comedy improv carries over into life. Improv helps you build confidence. It particularly helps when you’re giving a presentation to 10 people in a meeting. It gives you a sense of I can do this,” Lieber said.
Recently, Lieber invited to an SPC Show his boss Shelly Weiss Friedberg, director of public relations, for Tenet Healthcare and her husband Dr. Scott Friedberg, a board-certified family medicine physician based in Boynton Beach. Within minutes, Shelly was onstage participating in one of the night’s themes – ragging on Ryan Lieber’s work qualities. In other acts, everyone popped fictional beers with Dr. Friedberg while discussing themes ranging from pumpernickel to mesothelioma, Publix to saline and of course, paranormal activity.
Growing up in Chicago, Lieber was a fan of The Second City – home of popular sketch and improv shows. The Second City alumni include famous actors John Belushi, James Belushi, John Candy, Dan Akroyd, Chris Farley, Mike Myers, Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert. Alumni of The Second City touring and theatrical ensembles, also includes Julia Louis-Dreyfus among others. Lieber has found his own second city in Sick Puppies Comedy Improv and now skips the gym on Tuesday nights and looks forward to rehearsal every Tuesday evening from 8:30 p.m. – 11p.m.
“If only life could be an improv scene,” said Lieber.
During a recent Sick Puppies Comedy Improv performance which 120 people attended at Center Stage Performing Arts, the troupe raised $550 for Tri-County Animal Rescue, a 100 percent, no-kill, non-profit rescue center based in Boca Raton which to date has saved over 53,000 animals.
For more information on Sick Puppies Comedy Improv visit SickPuppiesComedy.com, call 954-667-7735, find on Facebook via www.facebook.com/pg/SickPuppiesComedy or stop by Center Stage Performing Arts, a theater, dance and comedy company located at 7200 W. Camino Real Road, Suite 330, in Boca Raton.