Monday, March 3, 2014

The All-Star Presidents Improv Team

The Presidents of the United States have come up a lot recently in our improv shows (could it be because of the February celebration of the Presidents? ...I doubt it.) and I got to thinking about putting a bunch of the presidents on an improv team and having them do a one-night only special engagement, as West Wing Improv. 

For this edition, they're doing a short-form, competitive style match, meaning two four-player teams, one "swing" player, a referee/host, and a "Mr. Voice" who keeps track of the score, plays music and runs lights from the tech booth.

I didn't overthink it, although I originally was going to do straight up Democrats VS. Republicans but decided the teams' "personalities" worked better as mixes. At some point down the line I'll do a super-team that does long-form. They do Armandos, and Lincoln is the monologist. 

It's the Continental Congress (the red team) with:
"Loose Cannon" Andrew Jackson
"Roll Over" Grover Cleveland
"The Mouth of the South" Billy Clinton
And your Captain, "The Mighty Redwood" Abraham Lincoln!


The Founding Fathers (the blue team) with:
James "Lil J" Madison
Barack "Yo' Mama" Obama
Calvin "Cool Edge" Coolidge
And your Captain, Teddy "Rockin' Ready" Roosevelt!


Working Swing tonight, playing for both teams:
Thomas "2Bits" Jefferson!

Up in the booth this evening...
Old Golden Throat, Mr. John Kennedy!

And your referee, The General, The Boss, The FIRST First Man of the United States...
"The Man Who Wouldn't Be King" George Washington!

So, the ref is obvious. It had to be George Washington. The only impartial, unbiased opinion would have to be the only of the Presidential men who wasn't part of a political party. Of course, the teams are all intermingled, but you still want someone in the position who inspires trust and confidence. Who better than the guy who gave King George the finger? Or whatever the 18th century equivalent of the finger was?
Favorite 'Points' Line: "Where the points don't matter. Just like Rhode Island in a majority vote."

For Mr. Voice, I had to go with someone whose voice was iconic. I had already chosen the teams, so there wasn't too many left to choose from. We don't really know for sure what any of the Presidents sounded like prior to sound recording, and most of the modern Presidents don't sound all that impressive with just their voices, but who can mistake Kennedy's tone, inflection, and accent? Except for Mayor Quimby?
Favorite "Let's Go" Line: "Let's rock the vote."

The Red Team is a little more visually comical. I think they have the stronger personalities, especially in terms of who might not get along. That's why Lincoln, who seems to be the more level-headed of the two captains, equalizes this team. You have the charismatic playboy in Clinton, and every team needs an asshole, so that's Jackson in spades. I wanted a "big guy", but I thought Taft was too easy of a pull. He still needed to be able to move, so I figured Cleveland, who ran three different times for President, was no slouch. He's also a bit quieter than his verbose friends, so they balance out.
Favorite Games: Forward/Reverse, Good/Bad Advice, Sportscasters

The Blue Team is subtle, more cerebral. That's why the captain is Roosevelt, who is stirring, boisterous, and belligerent. The rest of the team is smart and collected. Coolidge won't say much; I bet he's good at mime work. Madison's small, unassuming, but a wicked wit. Obama is smooth, he's the cool guy on the team. But you can't underestimate him, because he's as intelligent as the rest of the team, maybe even more so.
Favorite Games: Authors, Foreign Film Dub, Pick-A-Play

Swinging for both teams is Thomas Jefferson, who was an obvious choice for me, after I took Washington and Lincoln out of the running for their better-suited roles. Jefferson is eloquent and probably a bit pompous, so he's able to serve both teams really well, fitting in easily with the more word-based style of the Blue Team, while setting up everyone for bits on the more physical Red Team.
Favorite Games: Dimestore Novel, Newscaster, Party Quirks

Thoughts? Concerns? What other group of people should have improv teams?