Four String Samurai

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Four String Samurai is a team based out of North Carolina's Triangle region. It was initially a regular on the Dirty South Improv schedule. Beginning in March 2007 Four String began performing independently of DSI at various locations around the Triangle. The group is currently on semi-hiatus.

Personnel

August 2004-August 2005

September 2005-March 2007

  • Paul Overton
  • Austin Nava
  • Bret Runestad
  • Christopher Conklin

March 2007-August 2007

  • Paul Overton
  • Austin Nava
  • Bret Runestad
  • Eric Hirsh
  • Christopher Conklin

August 2007-Present

  • Paul Overton
  • Bret Runestad
  • Ben Birken
  • Ryan Locante
  • Eric Hirsh
  • Christopher Conklin

Ryan Locante coached from the group's inception until he joined as a performer in late 2007. After Ryan began performing, a series of rotating guest coaches was employed.

History

Four String Samurai began as a practice group of DSI improvisers in August 2004. The group focused on unusual edits such as transformations, inspired by coach Ryan Locante's experiences in Chicago watching teams such as JTS Brown and Four Square and reinforced by a fateful Snickers bar from a 7-Eleven in Morgantown, WV.

Four String Samurai made its debut in December 2004 at the Skylight Exchange in Chapel Hill, NC in a DSI produced show. For the next year, Four String played regularly at DSI shows at the Skylight Exchange and Kings Barcade.

When the DSI Comedy Theater opened in Carrboro October 2005, Four String Samurai played a three week run of shows the first month, including a show in which Internet troublemaker, Erik Martin, who had recently left the group to move to New York City, participated via web cam. In the Fall 2005, Four String also played the first Philly Improv Festival to less than mediocre reviews.

In the summer of 2006, Bizarro Four String Samurai took to the stage for the first time. Playing incredibly blue, "breaking" the rules of improv and the "delicacies" of theatre to discuss what to do next, and frequently physically and emotionally abusing each other on stage, they reached a climax when member Christopher Conklin had a minor seizure on stage in December. Bizarro Four String Samurai lasted less than a year but received their best audience responses when they poked fun at Four String Samurai's reputation for seriousness toward improvisation.

In the spring of 2007, Four String began playing at the Broad Street Cafe in Durham, NC. They performed a monthly show called the Samurai Hour. The first half hour consisted of scripted bits, special guests, and music. The second half consisted of a thirty minute improvised set. At this time Four String Samurai began playing with accompanist Eric Hirsh. In the months that followed, Four String began to play regularly at Common Ground Theatre in Durham (a show called "Improv Bender" that usually consisted of three groups) and at ComedyWorx in Raleigh, NC (at shows both during and after their affiliation with iO, and at their Second i3 Festival in April 2008). Four String Samurai played its first show at the DSI Comedy Theater after a year and a half away on September 11 2008 at the charity benefit Y Laugh.

Offshoots

Chris and Ryan's Three Person Show

Christopher Conklin and Ryan Locante worked on a show with a rotating third member during Fall 2005 and Spring 2006. Rehearsals consisted of three different 25 minute sets, each taking a different form. Traditionally a monoscene was the third and final set of the rehearsal. The show was performed twice at DSI Comedy Theater, once with Cece Garcia and once with Ross White, and once in Richmond VA, with Eric Drowatzky, in a show produced by Jessie's Girl. In each case the the trio elected to perform a monoscene despite opposition from veteran improviser and loyal fan, Scott Jennings.

Very Articulate Cavemen

Bret Runestad and Christopher Conklin performed a two person show under the moniker "Very Articulate Cavemen." They called their form "Articulate Cavemen." The opening consisted of Bret and Christopher discussing various cultural phenomena in the guise of cavemen. The rest of the show built off of the themes, attitudes, and references in the opening but without the caveman conceit.

Very Articulate Cavemen played DSI Comedy Theater several times as well as the 2006 Black Box Improv Festival in Atlanta, Georgia.

Two Tall Assholes

Bret Runestad and Paul Overton discussed playing a show under the name "Two Tall Assholes" (or under the alternate name "Banana Time!"). In keeping with the name, they discussed this idea for years without acting on it. "Two Tall Assholes" is categorized as an "Offshoot" based on the amount of time discussing it (it met the prerequisite 36-hour mark).