Arts preview: Fake Bacon celebrates 10 years of real improv

Jim Fischer

Fake Bacon has seen a lot in 10 years of Columbus improv - a lot of Genghis Khan, a lot of President Obama, a lot of Segways and a lot of Shakespeare.

Popular audience suggestions for characters and modes of transportation, and a popular long-form game, have fueled the improv troupe's work through the years (along with co-founder John Kuhn's predisposition for planting kisses on his troupe-mates onstage), making Fake Bacon a success story on the Columbus improv scene.

"There are a ton of good improv-ers in Columbus," Fake Bacon Co-founder Jason Sudy said, indicating that a fair number of them have been members of the ensemble, some moving on to other improv groups in town. The scene, he said, is supportive among audiences and performers (witness the friendly-yet-serious competition in the quarterly Improv Wars).

"They're rooting for you, giving you a ton of credit," Sudy said of audiences, who appreciate that the shows are made up on the spot. And while it may seem counterintuitive, Kuhn said making stuff up on the spot requires a lot of practice.

"You can't just show up and do improv. If you don't train, you'll be like a deer in the headlights," Kuhn said. "You need to be able to repeat a reaction consistently and be willing to allow a scene to go in any direction."

Sudy compared improv practice to that of a sports team, during which expectations are set, relationships are built and reactions are learned.

"The trick is to be willing to go through the process," Sudy said.

"Yeah, we make it look easy because we fucking work at it," Kuhn said.

Sudy estimates about 20 to 25 members have been a part of Fake Bacon in the troupe's 10 years. Four of its founding members are still with the ensemble. As many as could be found have been invited back for the Fake Bacon 10-year Anniversary Show, set for July 30 at the Garden Theater.

"It's mostly a celebration of the improv community, which is definitely different than when we started," Sudy said.

Fake Bacon has come a long way since its monthly gigs at the Thirsty Ear Tavern (now Woodlands Tavern) opening for piano man Chief Johnny Lonesome. The troupe is now a regular at the Garden Theater and at Jimmy V's in Grandview.

Garden Theater

7:30 p.m. Saturday,

July 30

1187 N. High St.,

Short North