Manitoba

Vincent Massey emerges victorious at national improv competition

Ten Winnipeg teenagers have been crowned the reigning national champions of improvisation.

The team came in fourth at the same competition in 2014

Jaydin Pommer, Maor Tsitrin and Bohden Dyck (left to right) told CBC's Radio Noon on Monday what it was like to be a team of national champions. (Sarah Lawrynuik/CBC)

Ten Winnipeg teenagers have been crowned the reigning national champions of improvisation.

The Canadian Improv Games in Ottawa last weekend invited the top 20 improv-drama teams from different regions across the country to faceoff against one another in a make-it-or-break-it five-day tournament.

The finals took place on Saturday night of the competition. The top-five teams included: Georges P. Vanier Secondary School and Lord Byng Secondary School from B.C., M.M. Robinson High School from Toronto, Halifax West High School from Nova Scotia, and Vincent Massey Collegiate from Winnipeg. 

Three students from the Vincent Massey team called the experience "unreal" and "very exciting" when they spoke with CBC's Radio Noon Monday.

Vincent Massey Collegiate's team are now the reigning champions after coming in fourth in 2014. (Canadian Improv Games)

"Very surreal for the first five minutes of it. It didn't actually feel like it was us winning until the trophy came out and we're all like 'wow this actually happened,'" said grade 12 student Bohden Dyck.

"And then you realize that you've been crying," grade 11 teammate, Jaydin Pommer added. 

The teens said it is humbling to win such an honour because they recognize how talented the competition was. 

Being anyone you want

This was Pommer's second year on the team, which placed fourth at the competition last year, she describes improv as "a way to express yourself, without having to follow rules."

"I think I learned that I don't have to be like everyone else, in a sense. I can be who I want to be - and you can be anyone you want to be on stage, you don't have to be yourself - I could be a man or a dog. I think I like that most about improv, I can be who I want to be," Pommer said. 

The team of comedic geniuses emerges from Vincent Massey Collegiate's improvisational drama classes for grade 10-12 students taught by drama teacher, Margo Kehler.

When the team competes at a national level, they say the best part of the experience is getting to meet other people that have the same passion as them. 

"Everyone relates to each other because each of these teams had to commit to the thing that they love, which is improv to get there. So you already have that connection," Dyck said. 

The competition is in its 38th year and has curated notable alumni including Golden Globe winner and Emmy nominee, Sandra Oh of Grey's Anatomy, and Golden Globe nominee, Tatiana Maslany of Orphan Black.

'You created that laugh'

A maximum of eight members of the team compete in each scene to be rated on a 59-point scale.

Dyck confirmed that everything is prepared on the fly, nothing is prearranged. However he said the bond that the group developed meant that they learned who was better at directing a story, who is the best at wrapping up the tale and so on. At a certain point, he said the team can anticipate what will come out of their teammates' mouths next. 

"You just try to get the quality of what you make up better each time you practice," Maor Tsitrin, a grade 12 team member said.

When it came down to competition time, the team wasn't focused on the score sheet but instead on putting on a good show and making people laugh. 

"Whenever you make someone laugh, you know that it's your laugh, nobody else wrote it – you created that laugh." Tsitrin said.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.