Making Shit Up

Improv, of the kind you see on Whose Line Is It Anyway?, was born in Italy in the 1500s. In those days, it was called “commedia dell’arte.” A troupe of ten people – seven men and three women – would get together on a street and play out a scene without a script and with only a few props. They welcomed donations from onlookers. The scenes tended to be about the great plebeian themes: adultery, old age, jealousy, and love, which themselves are motifs lifted from Greek comedies of the 4th century B.C. The performers often wore masks, making them forerunners of modern clowns.

In the 20th century, improvisational acting was revived after a long dormancy and flourished in comedy clubs. One such club in Miami is training the ordinary citizen in this age-old artform. Today, Just the Funny (3119 Coral Way, Miami) kicks off a seven-week course in Improv at 7:30 p.m. Participation costs $200. That’s a bargain when you consider that the whole world is an ongoing improvised scenario. There are limited spaces. Call 305-693-8669, or visit
Thursdays. Starts: March 6. Continues through April 24, 2008

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Penn Bullock