Learning to laugh: Improv group’s workshop offers way to let loose

  • The Alohahas will be hosting a free workshops, All About Improv, on April 16 at Honua Studios. (Courtesy Photo/The Alohahas)
  • The Alohahas will be hosting a free workshop, All About Improv, on April 16 at Honua Studios. (Courtesy Photo/The Alohahas)

KAILUA-KONA — To Roxanne Fox, the first rule of any improv comedy is that everyone’s on your side and eager to accept what you have to offer.

“There’s not a lot of places in life in general where that’s across-the-board true,” Fox said. “So that’s the beauty of improv comedy. And not all improv ends up funny, but sometimes some of the most poignant games, or scenes that come out of games, end up being really hilarious, because life is really silly.”

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Fox and the Kona-based improv comedy troupe, the Alohahas, are now offering a safe space for people to find their improv voice — in the form of two free workshops, titled All About Improv, from 5:30-7 p.m. on April 16 and May 14 at Honua Studios. Fox said the events will be part demonstration by the Alohahas and part hands-on improv by those attending.

“It’s performance basics, but also short-form improv games,” Fox said. “It’s very structured, it’s easy to do, and you don’t have to prepare for it, obviously. It gives you some ideas of the basics of improv that kind of frees you up to respond off the top of your head without being afraid of what’s going to come out.”

Cameron Miculka, a performer with the Alohahas and a reporter at the West Hawaii Today, said the Alohahas’ mission for the workshops is not just to teach people improv on a performance level, but to also give people the skills needed in their every day life.

“That’s an important part of improv. Comedy is fun, and it’s a great source of entertainment, but also if you strengthen that muscle, it allows you to be like, ‘OK, this is the situation I’ve been given, and I just have to roll with it,” Miculka said. “It’s valuable if you’re at work, on a date or just hanging out with your friends. It gives you the abilty to be flexible and adapt, and be confident.”

And there’s no pressure to perform at the workshops.

“That’s the beauty of it, if you show up and sit in the back of the room and all you do is shout suggestions, you still get to watch a scene based on what you shouted out. There’s something really amazing about that, too,” Fox said. “Shout the word ‘pickle’ because it’s on the top of your head, and then you just directed an entire scene without doing anything else.”

After the workshops, an “adult playground” with more mature humor for those 18 and over will also be on April 16 and May 14 days from 7:30-8:30 p.m.

“We call it an adult playground because it’s just an open forum for people to come, and kind of like a club, get up and play with a supportive community,” said Fox.

Fox lived most of her young life in Kona, where she said she started acting at age 3 at the Aloha Theatre. She said improv has always been a part of her acting life, and when she moved back to Hawaii as an adult, she met the other founding members of the Alohahas, which formed in 2012. She said she hopes the workshops will give the people on the island a new way to perform and laugh.

“A lot of people just don’t know about it ­— it’s not something a lot of people have heard about before,” Fox said. “That’s kind of what we want to help with. Just to show people that this is a cool way to get together with friends. Even if it’s not with us, get five of your friends together, and here’s a list of games to play. Just try it.”

The All About Improv workshops, however, are open to all age groups who want to join in. Fox said she hopes that teenagers in the area find their way to the free events.

“For me, growing up here, I got into theater really, really intensely as a teen,” Fox said. “It completely kept me afloat at a time that was kind of difficult to navigate.

“Teen years can be really hard for anyone, but especially in a small town. Maybe you don’t really find yourself in an easy group of people, so theater can be a really good place for people who are looking to express themselves and don’t necessarily know what’s going to come out.”

The Alohahas want the workshops to be a relaxed environment for people, not just theater types, to have a good time in.

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“There’s a lot of adults that, I think, have so much pressure in their every day lives, and their professional lives, that having something like improv to come to on a Monday night just really allows them to express themselves and relax,” Fox said. “And if you’re going to go out and do something on a Monday night, it’s got to be something easy. Something that you don’t have to prepare for and that you know you’re going to laugh and see your friends.”

Fox she said she believes in the saying “laughter is the best medicine,” and that making people laugh is one of her favorite things.