Nobody's Token

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An African-American long-form improv group in New York City that performs an improvised sitcom based on the Harold format. They currently host a monthly variety showcase of diverse improv, stand up, sketch and musical comedy called the Soul Glo Project at Under St. Marks and the UCB Theatre. They have performed at the People's Improv Theater, North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival, Frigid Festival, Baltimore Improv Festival and Del Close Marathon.

Members

Keisha Zollar, Rob King, Keith Cornell, Jimmy Juste, Lucas Hazlett and Julia Morales

Show Format

At the top of every show, Nobody's Token asks audience members for three suggestions, i.e. two every day problems and a product they have recently purchased. Off these suggestions they create a sitcom based on the familiar Harold structure.

Teaser

Four or five three-line scenes that briefly explore the two problems. Attention is paid to specifics involving characters, locations and sitcom genres.

First Beat/Act

Following the teaser are three scenes that further explore the two problems. The first scene tends to highlight the first problem, focusing strongly on creating the episode's protagonist, wants and obstacles. The second scene highlights the second problem, focusing on creating an entirely unrelated situation from the first scene. The third scene returns to the problem of the first scene and raises the stakes, often introducing the ways in which resolution of the problem will be attempted later.

Commercial Break

A group game based on the suggestion of a product that parodies various commercial genres. The best commercials are achieved by using ironic genres. For instance, if the suggestion were "toothpaste," rather than doing a commercial about a mom wanting to buy toothpaste for her child, you might see a political campaign ad where one tooth bad mouths another tooth for voting yes on the Colgate Act.

Second Beat/Act

The second set of scenes heightens the problems established in the first set. Rather than heightening the game through analogous scenes or heightening the character relationships through time dashes, the problems are heightened by raising the stakes of the obstacles. If the problem in the first scene was "no money to pay the rent" and the proposed solution was entering into a dance competition, then the stakes are raised in the second beat by having that character's legs broken.

After the second beat/act is another commercial break.

Third Beat/Act

The final set of scenes resolves the two problems through connected themes, characters, situations and games, often through absurd deus ex machinas and wild reveals.

Notable Moments

  • At their UCB Spank, Keith sang a fictitious song called "Pussy Made of Steel" off the back line in almost every scene. Students in attendance at the show were overheard singing the song in their improv classes in the following weeks.
  • A town cured of its gonorrhea by a thirty second group song
  • Lucas returning a Publisher's Clearinghouse Check in the third beat of a scene after maliciously ripping one up in the first.
  • Keisha and Lucas as a talking dog and cockroach giving life advise to Julia
  • Any scene involving Keith's improv penis
  • Rob becoming Lucas' penis after Lucas overdosed on dick-enhancement pills
  • Lucas emphatically yelling "status shift" after misinterpreting Keith and Jimmy's "tag-out" game as a meta reference rather than a wrestling reference

Coaches

Pat Shay Betsy Stover Will Hines Dustin Drury

Links

Footage of Nobody's Token from the North Carolina Comedy Arts festival.