Improv brings comedy downtown

By Erica Anderson
MSUM print journalism major

Photos by Kelly Johnson

From left: Steven Molony, Lucas Volasek and Torrey Halverson act out part of a community spelling bee during their performance Thursday at the Fargo Moorhead Community Theater.


From a county spelling bee to a family feud and a contemporary comedic rendition of Hamlet, the Bearded Men Improv group has limitless bounds during their performances.

Bearded Men take the stage
The Bearded Men Improv group consist of 10 men either in college or freshly out of it. Performing traditional and structured improv, the company puts on a hilarious hour and a half show each first, third and fifth Thursday of the month at the Fargo Moorhead Community Theatre (FMCT).

On Thursday the Bearded Men performed at the theater with only four members of their group. Beginning by getting friendly with the audience, they explained what improv is and took suggestions from the audience to get their creativity rolling.

Laughs spewed as the performers quickly and smoothly acted out various scenes. In this particular performance were scenes of a spelling bee and its awkward contestants, a dispute with a hotdog vendor, a dialogue between a discouraged football player and his coaches among others.

Halverson, Molony and Vonasek were the three members of the company who performed Thursday.


What’s with the beards?

With such an unusual name as The Bearded Men, one would assume a good story behind it: not so.

“I really don’t know where it came from,” said Lucas Vonasek, the newest member to (of) the group. “It just rolled off the tongue well.”

During some shows the men each wear a beard throughout. Pictures of them in their full attire can be seen at www.beardedmenimprov.com.

Steven Molony plays the part of an awkward spelling bee contestant.


Finding a home at FMCT

The Bearded Men have been performing at the FMCT since December. Babb’s coffee house had been the home of their main gig for a year and a half prior.

Vonasek said there is no particular reason for the move to the theater.

“Babb’s is always a great spot to perform and is always nice,” Vonasek said. “(Babb’s and the FMCT) are totally different spaces. What is a packed house at Babb’s is small at FMCT.”
At any given performance at the FMCT, 40-50 people come to watch, said Vonasek.

The Fargo Moorhead Community Theater allows the audience and performers to get up close and personal.


Comedy, a healing remedy

Fargo Moorhead Community Theater isn’t the only place that the Bearded Men perform. Occasionally doing shows on MSUM’s campus, the group is also hired out for corporate gigs, performing on-site where the event is or at the workplace.

In 2008, the group was asked to perform at a “Mind Mixer” for the Alzheimer’s Association as a fundraiser.

“The theme was humor so we wanted an improv comedy thing,” said Gretchen Everson of the Alzheimer’s Association in Fargo. “People don’t lose their sense of humor with the disease. (The Bearded Men) were fabulous.”

The company also travels to national improve competitions.

Two members perform an act between a concerned mother, Molony, and a rebelious son, Halverson.


Who’s who in the Bearded Men

Although the group has 10 members, only six live in the F-M area. All in the company have had a background in some sort of performing arts. Nine of them have or are attaining degrees in theater arts, with Vonasek as the exception, majoring in English writing.

All of the members have gone to MSUM, although it is not a requirement to be in the group. When the numbers get low, the Bearded Men hold open auditions to keep the comedy coming.

Although only three members were present for the performance, they held the audience’s attention throughout their hour and a half show.


“Our main demographic is college students,” Vonasek said. “We also get some adults and some high schoolers.”

The price for an adult is $6 and $4 for a student. But with the coupon printed weekly in MSUM’s campus newspaper, The Advocate, students can get in for $3.

 

Related Sites:
Follow the Bearded Men on Twitter
Become a fan on Facebook

Map to Fargo Moorhead Community Theater

The Downtowner
Downtown Community Partnership

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