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Performing Arts

Oh, brother

Comedy act Twinprov prepares for its biggest performance to date at the Chicago Improv Festival by giving locals a sneak preview.

Charles Martin April 20th, 2011

8:30 p.m. Thursday
The 51st Street Speakeasy, 1114 N.W. 51st

Twinprov’s Clint and Buck Vrazel are used to audience members calling shenanigans on their freestyle rap-meets-improv comedy show. Theories abound that parts are written beforehand. But for improv performers, suspicion is the sincerest form of flattery.

“The worst thing you can ever hear is, ‘I can do that,’” Clint Vrazel said. “But if you have someone say, ‘Oh, you wrote that down beforehand,’ then, thank you, the magic trick worked.”

It’s easy to be dubious of the brothers as they race through hundreds of rhymes that would stand tall in freestyle rap contests, all tethered them to on-the-fly skits inspired by audience suggestions. These jaw-dropping skills have earned Twinprov a spot in the Chicago Improv Festival, kicking off in late April. Before heading out, however, the Vrazels will give local fans a taste at “Thursdays Don’t Suck” at The 51st Street Speakeasy, 1114 N.W. 51st.

So, how do they do it?

“There are methods to it. It isn’t entirely mysterious, but it takes a lot of practice,” Buck Vrazel said, explaining that it started with their mother reading poems to them before bed, but developed further during improv workshops across the country. “Clint and I have developed a whole series of exercises to access freestyle that we teach professionally. We are actually working on a book, ‘The Improvised Freestyle Bible.’” He insisted they don’t have prepackaged rhymes that they just adapt to different situations, but have performed so long that rhyming has become a second language. And like learning any new language, repetition breeds comfort.

“You really have to trust that your brain will produce,” he said. “We already speak at a pretty high rate and we trust that our brain will produce language, so you just have to trick your brain that rap is a natural language. There is a filter there somewhere in our brains, and we’ve managed to turn it off.”

Twinprov will be the first state improv group to perform at the festival, sharing stage time with 90 troupes from more than 30 cities worldwide. Hopefully, the prestige will provide more opportunities for the duo to perform and teach, and also get them in front of the right pair of eyes that could take them to the next level in their careers.

“There is the chance of parlaying this into a career in TV writing, and I’d love to write for ‘The Daily Show,’” Clint Vrazel said. “We will be one degree of separation away from the people who have made it, so getting noticed at the Chicago Improv Festival makes that possible.”

With finely tuned flow and long-forged improv skills, he believes Twinprov is ready for the national stage.

“But if I had one wish, it would be for a technical advisor to be in the booth, picking tracks,” he said.

“Yeah,” Buck Vrazel said. “Can you put in your story that Twinprov needs DJs?”

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