“The Pretentious Improv Group – come watch us play with ourselves,” first year Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development student and proud member of PIG Swithun No exclaimed. What could be better than the thrill and hilarity of watching improv? I can’t think of anything either, but competitive improv sounds quite promising.

Yes, competitive improv. In the first ever Rochester Improv Challenge, two troupes display the creativity, wit and ridiculousness they’re made of in a grueling weekly competition. Yes, grueling. Everything in improv is exaggerated.

The troupes each perform, or rather, improvise for 30 minutes, after the hour of improvisational mayhem the audience votes for the group they liked best and the winner moves on to the semi-finals.

This Sunday, Feb. 26, UR’s own Pretentious Improv Group will go head-to-head against the longest-running improv troupe in the Rochester area, “Nuts and Bolts” improv troupe.

PIG is one of only two collegiate teams competing in the tournament, and their challenge to the established Nuts and Bolts makes this weekend’s face-off a true David and Goliath story.

“Given that over 60 percent of our group are freshmen who have never done improv before, we’re not just underdogs in this competition, we’re underpuppies. And that makes us fearless,” joked No at his troupe’s chances of winning.

Haven’t heard of PIG? They’re the new kids on the block, having formed the group only last semester.

But don’t be fooled or turned off by the seemingly rookie cast. No is one of the founding members of In Between the Lines and a member of the professional Geva Comedy Improv troupe, making him more than qualified to lead the improv novices in PIG. So rest assured, the young guns aren’t without fighting experience.

And then there’s the simple fact that they’re freshmen. As we all know freshmen are funny, if not as the butt end of a good practical joke, then simply because they’re freshmen. Needless to say, the event sounds outlandishly entertaining.

Come show your support – or come to enjoy the ridicule – as PIG battle Nuts and Bolts for a chance to advance to the semi-finals. The event starts at 7 p.m. this Sunday at the Downstairs Cabaret Theatre, just two blocks from the Eastman School of Music. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased through Downstairs Cabaret’s box office by calling 325-4370.

The show will be well worth witnessing the verbal mayhem that promises to be spewed forth. Besides, how often do you get to laugh at freshmen and not feel bad about it afterward?

Stillman can be reached at astillman@campustimes.org.

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