Celebrate 11 years of laughter with OTC Improv

The tenth anniversary celebration of OTC Improv, 913 South Main St, Cedar City, Utah, Jan. 18, 2014| Photo courtesy of OTC Improv, St. George News

CEDAR CITY – Thirty-five current and previous members of the OTC Improv crew will gather Friday night at their headquarters in Cedar City to celebrate 11 years of fun and laughter with hours of hilarious antics and comedy improvisation straight “Off The Cuff.”

The 3-hour anniversary show revolves around which of the 50 improvisational games are drawn from the magical, all-seeing, all-knowing cup of laughter that night, said OTC Improv co-founder and comedian T.J. Penrod.

“The cup tells all, and sees all and does all,” he said. “It’s a truly improvised show … and everything is completely made up on the spot, we don’t even know what the order of the show is going to be. We just know how many people will be needed to play each game.”

Each participant in a game is determined by drawing a comedian’s name from a cup before each game begins, T.J. Penrod said, making the experience even more spontaneous and entertaining for the audience. This sometimes leads to an extended show time when there is an anniversary show, because so many OTC members return to play with their pals on stage.

“We say it goes until midnight,” he said. “But last year we started at 9 (p.m.) and didn’t get done until 1 (a.m.).”

This did not seem to bother audience members,T.J. Penrod said, explaining that nobody left early despite the extra-late wrapup.

I always worry that our birthday shows are more for us than our audience,” he said. “Inside jokes come out, and we kind of start razzing each other, but everyone always tells us that the birthday shows are always one of their favorite shows.”

Positioned on the east wing of the same complex as Staples, at 913 South Main St. in Cedar City, the OTC Improv venue has become a popular location to showcase a variety of local talent.

The club has come a long way from where its comedic group got their start with the Improv Sports club at Southern Utah University. The five founders, Dave Armour and his wife Mary Armour, Richy T. Steadman, T.J. Penrod and his wife Wendy Penrod performed regularly for university events.

“We used to do shows at the SUU cabin for the scholarship weekends, and the ambassador weekends and stuff like that,” T.J. Penrod said. After several months of these performances, he said, Steadman contacted Jonathan Holiman, who was the owner of The Grind at the time, and locked in a regular venue for public shows every Friday night.

Week after week, the comedy team performed in various groups and forms under the name Off The Cuff Comedy at The Grind – until just a few years ago, when they finally landed their own home base.

With the new home came a new name, and OTC Improv was born, T.J. Penrod said.

“Just to kind of clean (the name) up a bit, professionally; that’s why we did that,” he said. “Locally, though, we are still kind of known as ‘Off The Cuff.’”

Through the years, there have been “ups and downs” for the comedy troupe – but for the most part, T.J. Penrod said, OTC Improv has been blessed exponentially with both community support, and a long list of jokesters who have donned the stage in search of laughter and fun.

We get a lot of love from the community,” he said. “Really, the people that come out to support OTC, the people who come to shows … it’s those people that really keep it going and allow us to achieve 11 years of success.”

Event recap and resources

  • What: OTC Improv 11th anniversary show
  • When: Friday, Jan. 16, 9 p.m.
  • Where:  The east wing of the same complex as Staples, 913 South Main St, Cedar City
  • How: Tickets are $5 at the door
  • Event Facebook page

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