When I first heard about Kiss Punch Poem, a weekly series at the Magnet Theater that merges poetry and comedic improv, my initial reaction was that there were two ways this could go: painfully bad or insanely hilarious. I am pleased to report that my experience reflects the second supposition.
The blend of a talented group of improvisers, known as the Kiss Punch Poem Ensemble, with featured writers performing original work, accomplishes its goal of bringing about the unexpected in both comedic and poetic ways.
The event follows a specific formula, beginning with an exquisite corpse poem written in collaborative fashion by audience members prior to the show. Exquisite corpse is a poetry game that originated in the Parisian Surrealistic Movement, in which a paper is passed around and each player writes a word or image and the end result forms a poem. In this case, each participant writes a line, and a volunteer reads the finished product. The Kiss Punch Poem Ensemble then improvises a scene based on what they heard. This first improv, pretty much a warm-up for the show, is followed by the first of three featured poets. An improv takes place after each reading, and at the evening’s conclusion one or two of the poet members create a brand new end poem for the audience, inspired by the show.