Improv Squad Recalled Fondly

By TOM SOTER
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The year 2014 may have been a year to remember – but I don’t remember a thing about it outside of the reunion of the New York Improv Squad. It was July of 1984 when I first performed with the Squad (our early names included “The Coffee Achievers” – what were we thinking?) and it was up to fleeting member (and sometime Broadway star) Anthony Crivello to give us the straightforward, non-cutesy name that said what we were all about: improv comedy. Witty Carl Kissin convinced us to rehearse (although Rick Simpson, laconic and Gary Cooper-like, booked the rehearsal space) while Chris Hoyle, guitar and rhymes at the ready, got us our first gig at the midnight show at Ye Olde Tripple Inn (their spelling not mine) and later led us into our most famous gigs, performing on the street to enthusiastic crowds. Judith Searcy brought laid-back charm to the company, while 16-year-old Deb Rabbai delivered youthful smarts. Diana Conforti was our comedic heart, Jeff Clinkenbeard our comedic soul, and I was the “leader” – though who could lead such a group? (My first two decisions were immediately ignored.) After all, we weren’t really a group, we were a family – damned funny at times, as the moments in the video, The Return of the New York Improv Squad, clearly shows. I left the group in January of 1986, but my love for that dedicated band of coffee achievers continues unabated. We weren’t the Upright Citizens Brigade, but we were something special. Happy 30th, Squad!