Ripley is an improvised movie team comprised of Liane Houseman, Lauren Morris, and Susan Wurzelbacher. The three are based in Orlando, where they are stalwarts of that city’s vibrant improv community. They will be performing on Friday night at the inaugural 321 Improv Festival. In this spotlight interview, Houseman, Morris, and Wurzelbacher talk about the heightened activity of small-group improv, their pre-show rituals, and the best post-show compliments they’ve ever received.
Get your tickets to the 321 Improv Festival here.
What’s your favorite thing about the improv scene in your city?
Lauren: How close we are as a community. There is also a lot of room for individual expression and encouragement to take risks.
Liane: Close-knit community and continuously growing!
Susan: Solid short- and long-form followings and distinguished different spaces for each form to thrive.
How would you describe your approach to improv?
As Ripley, we take a very active, relationship-driven approach. For us it always comes down to the relationships between the characters on stage. We all agree to constantly check in with each other as well off the stage. Communication is essential to making this format successful.
What do you think makes small group improv unique?
Lauren: You really have to be actively listening and have the ability to adapt even faster under every changing circumstances. It’s much more intimate as well. There is also the ability to really hone your improv voice while also making sure your partner(s) shine!
Liane: Everyone is super active and there is more of a need to step it up. It is a greater challenge to have a smaller group than a bigger one, which I enjoy. I really love when we get to pop in and out of each other's characters and just have fun with it.
Susan: Much more active. The smaller the group, the more on-the-ball the players must be. I'm all about the on-stage workout ;)
What’s your favorite memory from a trio, duo, or solo show?
Lauren: My favorite learning moment came from my solo show. In addition to Ripley, I also perform Harold-ish. It’s a one person Harold (more or less). I was playing two characters and one character asks the other character to come inside. The one character was finding ways to avoid it. All of a sudden, I thought, wait, I am not saying 'Yes, And' to myself! Huge learning moment!
With Ripley, there are so many great moments that it is really hard to just choose one!
Liane: This is hard, there are so many favorites. I loved our first time doing Improvised Movie, it was a challenge and such an adrenaline rush. I love when you have a small group and everyone has a "yes, of course!" attitude. Everyone is just so on the same page and ready to rock 'n' roll.
Susan: It’s hard to just pick one!
Where’s the most peculiar/unusual place you’ve ever performed?
Lauren: A long time ago, I performed in an alleyway behind a pizza parlor. With Ripley, we have definitely been spoiled!
Liane: I’m with Susan on this one, I’d love to try Scubaprov
Susan: Haven’t the chance but I’d love to try to improvise and scuba dive at the same time!
What do you typically do to get yourself ready for a show? Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Lauren: I have three pair of shoes that I will choose from. I wear socks that say “I’m not going to lie, I make shit up” and I listen to a specific high energy playlist of mostly 80s and 90s pop music!
Liane: I have been wearing the same pair of pants to every show. This is only because I don't have enough pants.
Susan: Seriously, I straight up jam out to boy band radio on my way to the theater before every show!
What sort of compliment do you like to get or give after a show?
Lauren: “Wow, that was just like being at the movies”
Liane: "Hey girl...Way to support the shit out of your scene-partner"
Susan: “You were the BEST tree I've ever seen!"
Why is Terminator 2 the best Terminator movie?
Lauren: First and foremost, I’m just finding out that my movie teammates have yet to see T2 so there’s that. Second, I cannot 100% agree that T2 is the best movie when Die Hard is clearly the best movie to ever exist.
Liane: Yeah...I haven't seen that one either...but if I were to judge this based off of the movie poster, I would say because Schwarzenegger looks super mysterious with that blueish tint sitting up there on his cool looking motorcycle thing.
Susan: I can't believe I'm about to say this... I've never seen the Terminator series. *gasp! I know*