Luther College Chips

Top Banana fills the house

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Annika Peterson (‘19) and Karl Nycklemoe (‘18) show affection during a scene.

Annika Peterson (‘19) and Karl Nycklemoe (‘18) show affection during a scene.

Madie Miller (‘19) | Photo Bureau

Madie Miller (‘19) | Photo Bureau

Annika Peterson (‘19) and Karl Nycklemoe (‘18) show affection during a scene.

Natalie Nelson, Staff Writer

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Lights, camera, laughs! Top Banana, Luther’s only improv troupe, performed in Storre Theater on Friday, Feb. 23.

All seats were filled ten minutes before the performance with attendees sitting on the stairs, the floor, and leaning against the wall. Top Banana member Vince Grube (‘21) was excited to perform for the full house.

“It’s a cool feeling to fill the house up,” Grube said. “I think last night was the second time that we have filled the house.”

The show started off with a game called “Late To Work.” Scene  participants mimed to Top Banana member Karl Nycklemoe (‘18) why he was late to work, how he got there, and where he worked. The audience provided the details and decided that Nycklemoe was late due to menstruation, arrived via speedboat, and worked at a slaughterhouse.

According to Top Banana member Emma Brashear (‘18), improv is a form of acting in which the audience plays a significant role.

“We ask for suggestions before each game and use them to inspire the scenes we put on,” Brashear said. “We often banter with the audience between games. A good audience makes good improv.”

The next game was called “Build a Better Bear.” This game involved three actors being assigned the letters “D. A.,” and the actors then invented movie titles that could be abbreviated by those letters. The audience voted for the scene they wanted to see via applause. Annika Peterson (‘19) won the audience’s votes with “Damnit, Alexa!” The scene ensued featured an Amazon Alexa — played by Hope Shishilla (‘21) —  reading her manual to her owners.

Madie Miller (‘19) | Photo Bureau
Adrienne Lee (‘19) lets out her frustration at a Top Banana practice.

“Rule number one: do not massage Alexa,” Shishilla said. “Rule number two: give all our your personal belongings and firstborn child to Alexa. Rule number three: do not interrupt Alexa.”

The show also included the games “New Choice,” “Bermuda Triangle,” and “5-4-3-2-1,” involving repeating a scene with fewer characters each round. The scene for this game featured a couple finding a knife in their bedroom. Grube’s favorite game of the night was “Bermuda Triangle.”

“‘Bermuda Triangle’ is technically a pretty difficult game because you need to have three very distinct characters, and I think we did that really well,” Grube said. “That made it a fun game both for the audience to witness and [for us] to be a part of.”

The show ended with a game called “Our Town,” which is played at the end of every Top Banana show. After the audience gives the actors a town name, in this case “Slimy Sasquatch,” the actors introduce their characters and begin the scene.  In this scene, the second-prettiest Princess Lila, played by Shishilla, and Sassy the Beautiful Sasquatch, played by Peterson, competed to be prettiest.

Madie Miller (‘19) | Photo Bureau
Emma Brashear (‘18) volunteers Vince Grube (‘21) for an improv game.

Attendee Amanda Brobst (‘19) said her favorite part of the show was when Shishilla lost the contest but decided her new title would be “most confident.”

“I appreciated that after an hour of silly, senseless comedy, they ended on a more wholesome note,” Brobst said. “It made ‘Our Town’ particularly special; self-confidence is a quality that a lot of college students seem to lack, so it was a cute reminder to us to uphold that.”

Shishilla thought this was Top Banana’s best show so far this year because the group trusts each other.

“There’s a kind of trust that you have to establish for an improv group, because, unlike a performance group where you rehearse and have a structure, I have to know I can depend on this other person [during a scene],” Shishilla said.

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