UHS ZOOMprov: Tournament of Champions Recap


UHS improv team has found a way to perform for the irvine community despite COVID-19 restrictions.

Kristopher Zulueta, Staff Writer 

Irvine Unified School District schools competed in the IUSD Tournament of Champions, in which color-coordinated teams of talented performers competed against each other in a series of games to become the champions of improv, on January 14. Although this is my first time attending an improv night from UHS theatre arts since I came to UHS just last year, I was sad that I missed out on such a fun and great experience to laugh at live.
Before COVID-19, the audience would usually attend the theatre and experience a real live performance on stage, but this time, the audience must now attend the event via Zoom. The host of the Zoom meeting, Mark Gibson, served as the referee and coach for the tournament and made sure everything ran smoothly throughout the night. Gibson assured the audience that they would not be seen or heard throughout the night unless they were a volunteer and granted permission to do so. 
The Zoom experience for both performers and attendees was the first virtual IUSD improv event. Comedy Sportz teams were able to continue these performances. However, some students like senior and performer Zaman Merchant wouldn’t have preferred the adjustment to a virtual performance. 
“It was an experience I will not forget,” Merchant said.
There were five teams in total and each team consisted of students from different schools and competed against each other in nine rounds, each featuring a game. The green team consisted of Caitlyn Yu, Zaman Merchant, Ryan Safadjou, and Owen Shin, the blue team, Julian Rooney, Owen Stapp, May Woodrow, and Giuliana Santoro-Kemnitzer, the yellow team, Audrey Moore, Daniel Bohlson, Sammy Patel, Ian Mavrikis, the purple team, Sydney Spencer, Henry Feuerborn, Shreya Shankar, and John McPhie, and finally the red team, Brian Bajak, Jean Meyer, Nicole Cortes, and Sierra Wheaton. I was amazed at how each of them were able to make all of this stuff up as they went because everything was so smooth as if it was scripted and planned.
The first round was “radio show” where the green team was supposed to act out a scene from a random title that was provided by the audience, and the title that was chosen by Mark was, “Green Giants”. The green team acted like big green giants while each member made up something that they were doing until the others filled it in as if it was an unfinished story. The second round was “a word from our sponsors” where the blue team had to act out a trailer for a movie that was called “Dusk and Dawn” and at the same time, an interview was taking place between Julia Rooney and UHS alumni, Davide Costa who was present in the audience and decided to volunteer to be a part of the performance. So the zoom would switch between the interview and then with the other members of the group enacting the movie trailer and everyone would have to be prepared to continue wherever they left off whenever the screen randomly switched. The third round was “DVD” where the yellow team were in a DVD and had to act out as if they were in France where they apparently got into a road rage leading up to a car crash that was hilarious to watch. 
The fourth round was “expert challenge x2” in which the purple team had to talk about frogs but in this discussion, they had to talk as if they were proving a point which led to calling each other out and disrespecting them with their greater knowledge about frogs. The fifth round was “my movie” where Mark had to say the phrase “my movie, my movie, my movie” and each member of the red team had to come up with a movie title of some sort and Mark would decide if he likes it or not. If he likes it, that person would have to make up a scene in that title and everyone would have to join in on it, if not, then the next person would make up a title. The sixth round was “schoolyard diss” where the purple team had to act out a schoolyard diss scene where they make fun of each other in the scene, someone has to say the words, “grumpy, skipping, and donut.” I laughed a lot at this one because they were supposed to be young kids and their dissing was rated pg and when they used the words, it didn’t make sense but also made sense at the same time which made it even funnier. 
The seventh-round was “emo party” which was similar to last round’s game but the red team had to act out an emo party scene and someone would have to say the words, “melancholy, ecstatic, and shy.” The teammates had to act as emo kids who were at a party together and I’m going to be honest, the acting was very funny and it was good too, it wasn’t that kind of acting where you know they’re faking it, which was really cool. The eighth round was “scantron” where the green team had to act out a random scene but it was a scantron scenario, so Mark would randomly pause the scene and the members would have to freeze and say four options that Mark would then choose. I was so happy when Mark chose the option that was the funniest one because I would wonder how they could possibly pull it off. The ninth and last round of the night was “four square” where the blue team had to pair up in twos and they would have to act as certain people, the funniest one in my opinion was the two assassins who were assigned to kill each other because they ended up hanging out. 
“We still try our hardest to put a smile on their faces,” said sophomore Brian Bajak.
I loved every single round and team and I wished they could all win but in the end, there could only be one team who could be the champions of improv. So once the last round ended, Mark opened up a poll in the zoom and the audience voted the team they loved the most. The team that won the most votes was the blue team! With that said, the zoom was coming to an end and as we were leaving the meeting, we were greeted with all the performers’ smiling faces as they waved us goodbye. 
“Over zoom you have to really trust yourself to know what’s funny or not. Once you get past that it really feels like you’re just messing around with your friends,” senior Elliot Welsh said.
It seems that improv night has changed drastically from before, especially with the disadvantages of moving to virtual. However, we are in a pandemic, and many groups like performing arts have taken a toll due to health procedures that we are advised to follow, but it is wonderful that improv nights at UHS can continue virtually in order to maintain the hopes of the performing arts community that someday they will be able to perform on stage again.