Sloshed sci-fi at Highwire
Improv troupe The Tipsy Zone creates booze-powered episodes of “The Twilight Zone.”Wednesday October 5, 2016 01:00 pm EDT
The Tipsy Zone is a combination of two of America’s favorite coping mechanisms: alcohol and “The Twilight Zone.” The troupe improvises episodes of the essential science fiction series with booze mixed in for good measure. At the top of the show, the group pulls an irrational fear from the audience — snakes or small spaces or something of the like. This suggestion fuels a monologue — in the same ominous, fourth-wall-breaking style with which “The Twilight Zone” creator Rod Serling started installments of his acclaimed TV show — ending with an episode title and then delving deeper into the world in 30 minutes of improv. The tipsy part of the show comes along as improvisers are joined onstage by one pitcher of vodka cranberry and another of whiskey and Coke. Performers start the show with a shot then must accept and finish every drink other improvisers offer during scenes.
Over the course of the show, the comedians split a little over a fifth of liquor, so you can expect for things to get, err, weird, as the night goes on and the players fall more and more into the tipsy zone.
“It's like a huge inside joke that we're playing with the audience,” creator Christian Grey Moore tells CL over email. “Where we all agreed to do a play but lost the scripts, got hammered, and said, ‘fuck it, we'll do it live.’”
The troupe, which includes Bret Brammer, Freddy Boyd, Katie Elkins, Paige Hamilton, Mark Spurlock, Lauren Schmuck, Chris Mayers, and creator Christian Grey Moore, has been doing long-form improv — and drinking, lots and lots of drinking — together for about six months. Credits include a stint in the final round of the Atlanta Improv Festival Cage Match.
The Tipsy Zone’s format has changed slightly since its inception — for example, pianist Sam Holtzen now provides accompaniment for their onstage shenanigans — but the basic premise remains to fight intoxication while trying to pay homage to the beloved TV show.
“There are other comedy shows in Atlanta that have alcohol as part of their theme,” Moore says, “but I don't think any of them have the same focus on building a cohesive narrative and a focus on believable characters and relationships.”
It makes for better improv, better drinking, and a weirder visit to the dimension between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge.