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O-Town Throwdown improv comedy series. (Sara Parker / The Signpost)

Improv comedy is back at Ziegfeld Theatre’s Comedy Loft. For $5, audiences can enjoy the O-Town Throwdown, where two teams of three comedians battle it out with family-friendly game-style improv.

Comedy Loft co-managers Matthew Tse and Jon Douglas lead free improv workshops for anyone interested in developing their skills. They also respectively MC and perform at the O-Town Throwdown, but being onstage wasn’t always natural for them.

Tse, a certified public accountant by day, explains his experiences performing as, “trying to reach heights that [he] never thought [he] could reach.”

He remembers feeling anxious during his first performance, but the thrill of being on stage taught him to rely on his own instincts and training. For Tse, one of the most important lessons someone can learn doing improv is how to trust your fellow comedians.

“We’re all looking to help each other,” Tse said.

As the MC of Throwdown, Tse acts as a bridge between the audience and the comedians, enhancing the overall experience for everyone. He uses the Throwdown as a way to explore his creativity — a stark contrast from his day job as a number cruncher.

Douglas, a software engineer for Microsoft and self-proclaimed introvert, was 22 when he attended his first improv show. His interest in theatre and humor motivated him to branch out and try improv for the first time. Performing on stage gives him a unique sense of joy.

Douglas said, “You can bring life to something new on stage.”

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Actors going through sketch battles at the O-Town Throwdown. (Sara Parker / The Signpost)

The O-Town players range in age from 20 to 58 and will compete in a sometimes-friendly, 3 vs. 3 short form game format each week that is reminiscent of TV shows like Who’s Line Is It Anyway and MTV’s Wild & Out.

Tse wants to assure potential audience members that there are opportunities to participate in the show, but only if they are willing. He prides himself on making sure audience members feel comfortable and understand the rules of the games being played on stage.

One goal of The Comedy Loft is community outreach to Ogden area high schools through their free improv workshops. Douglas hopes these workshops will give students an opportunity to overcome fears of public speaking in an entertaining way.

Tse said introverts are encouraged to attend their shows, where they can learn to perform in a safe and non-judgmental space.

The O-Town Throwdown battles begin at 8 p.m. every Saturday night. The Comedy Loft is working to expand their repertoire of classes and workshops in the near future.

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