May Art Hop: Redding Improv Players


You’ve seen the TV show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” The game-show-meets-stand-up-comedy in which Drew Carey, Colin Mochrie, Ryan Stiles and the boys buzz around the stage creating random scenarios and leaving the audience gasping for breath.

Well, you don’t have to live in L.A. to enjoy this kind of side-splitting laughter; there’s an improv troupe right here in Redding and they are kicking off Art Hop this Saturday, May 9 at 5 p.m.

This hysterical ensemble, The Redding Improv Players (R.I.P.), has been gracing the stage at Old City Hall for the past 11 seasons. (They perform the third Saturday of every month -excluding December – from 8 to 9:30 p.m. and for only $5, you can laugh yourself silly!)

Here’s how it works: It is sketch comedy, and various cast members (they have 12-15 active members from whom to choose) perform on the spot, based on audience suggestions. Each scene, or game, lasts between 2-7 minutes, depending the scenario. There’s a host who chooses the cast, games and music for the evening, so everyone has a chance to show off his/her talent. The cast works tirelessly — close to 50 weeks a year — to stay in top improv-form developing games and working on their timing. After all, they’re live, so they have to be funny all the time.

Now, I’ve done my fair share of theatre, but this is a whole different ball game These guys really know how to think on their feet! Troupe member Cannon Knapp says it’s not a talent they take lightly.

“It’s definitely a skill that can be honed, but you kind of have to be born with it,” he said.

When R.I.P. holds auditions twice a year (usually January and June) they are looking for that inherent sense of timing, as well as the ability to listen, share and give.

“You might think you’re the funniest of your friends,” Knapp said. “But you may be humbled getting on stage with some of these guys!”

In the ever-changing, rotating “playlist” of a typical show, certain games seem made for certain players. “Everybody has different skills,” Knapp said.

“But everyone also really has to have basic theatre skills-projection, enunciation-as well as improv skills, which are very different.”

Trust me, when I’m on stage I need a script, so my hat’s off to these players for keepin’ it fresh!

Run on down to the Art Hop kick-off and let the games begin!

When: 5 p.m. Saturday

Where: Courtyard of GMS Mann Custom Jewelers

Churn Creek Plaza, 5200 Churn Creek Road

When: 5-6 p.m., Saturday, May 9.

Redding Improv Players is an Auxiliary of the non-profit Shasta County Arts Council.


Melissa Gulden

earned her B.A. in journalism and her M.A. in English from CSU-Chico. She spent time in Las Vegas working as a college English instructor and a magazine writer and editor. She teaches at University Preparatory School in Redding, performs in local theatre and writes for Enjoy Magazine.

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