When I was in Toastmasters, table topics used to terrify me. These were impromptu speeches for which your name was called and you had to talk for one minute on a given subject.
So when I watched the improvisational comedy troupe Off the Cobb perform at Chocolate Perks in Duluth, my heart beat faster for the performers as they had to act out off-the-wall suggestions from the audience that made table topics look like child's play. And the audience did not merely consist of the dozen or so people sitting around sipping wine or coffee. This audience included viewers from all over the world who sent in their skit suggestions via the Internet. In fact, with its revolutionary new way of entertaining the world, OTC bills its performances not as mere improvisation, but as "improvelution."
"These shows are radically different from what you see on most web shows," Kelley Cody-Grimm, OTC Artistic Director said. "Web casting is still in the beginning stages, sort of like TV in the mid- to late 40s. We're breaking ground."
The technology may be in infancy, but word of OTC's talent is spreading fast.
"We've had folks from as far away as Australia and Ireland watching at the same time as our viewers in Georgia," Cody-Grimm said. "This past week we had over 7,000 views to the web show which put us over 150,000 total views."
Dulce Sloan, a Meadowcreek High School graduate and stand-up comic has been with the troupe since March.
"You can learn so much from doing improv. Once in live theatre, an actress forgot a costume change and I had to improv both my line and hers,'" Sloan said. "And we never know where we'll turn up. Once we performed at 2 a.m. at a Duluth High School lock-in."
Amy Morrow graduated from Parkview High School and after college returned there to teach drama with her mother Sharon Morrow. But Morrow prefers performing. In addition to having fun with OTC, she also works with Imaginator, a program with the Atlanta Children's museum and Kid's Stuf Live with North Point Ministries.
Adrian Petty, who's been with OTC about a year, noted that a little improv is a good experience for anyone.
"It's thinking on your feet and learning to trust your partner. These skills can transcend beyond the stage into real life, into both personal and business relationships."
When they are not performing before the world at 8:30 on Wednesday nights, OTC stages special events and conducts corporate workshops to help employees present themselves with confidence. Their clients include Gwinnett Medical Center and Duluth Merchants Association.
This Wednesday OTC will offer a back to school special with kid related themes.
But if you can't make it to Chocolate Perks, just tune in with the rest of the world at www.stickam.com/otctv.
Susan Larson is a Lilburn resident. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.