Well Hung Jury

From Austin Improv Community Wiki

Well Hung Jury was an improv troupe.


Flyer from the Jury's final show in October 2003.
Flyer from the Jury's final show in October 2003.

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The troupe was founded in May 1998, and performed their final show in October 2003.

Over the course of their run, they performed Austin's first improv marathon with a 27-hour-long show, and did a series of performances in unconventional places, such as a parking garage, the Capitol grounds, and a cross-city bus.

They performed in The 2005 Out of Bounds Comedy Festival, and did a one-off "ten-year reunion" show on 4/30/09 at The Hideout Theatre.

Here is Jordan T. Maxwell's explanation of the name's origin:

The legend has always held that Jeremy heard the phrase "hung jury" in Mr. Smiley's economics class (because it's impossible to actually pay attention to anything pertinent in Mr. Smiley's economics class), and the synaptic reflex to a dick joke was instantaneous. The origins of our troupe pseudonyms, Mad Ezekiel and the Oedipus Freaks and Free Falling Malfactors, have been lost to the sands of time...


Conceptual Improv Formats

  • 1,000 Words - Inspired by Chris Van Allsburg's The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, this format takes the striking illustrations and story fragments from a children's picture book and uses them to improvise full stories. See what Mr. Moe's 4th grade class did, too.
  • real SURreal - A hybrid of reg. longform and avant garde, this form showcases the best of both of them. A 40 minute playlet is improvised after which the same story is told with an avant garde touch. Look out Wichita Falls.
  • Bunraku Puppets - Full size puppets operated by the Jury doing voices and creating sorrow. Improv longform puppet show with puppets operated by partially untalented comedians. This can't help but be immense comedy. And lo it was immense.
  • Texas Chainsaw Musical - Aided by piles of lumber and modern tools of construction, the Jury builds the structure of your choice in musical fashion accompanied by vocal tones and flowiness, then does a one act improvised play using the newly built structure as a set piece. It's Stomp meets Blue Man meets Impromptones meets Tom Waits meets Well Hung Jury. Highly interesting, no doubt.
  • Improv in Weird Places - This format was a week 's worth of flowy free form improv that was staged in places all around Austin, including the capitol building, the No. 7 Bus, and the roof of the Arboretum parking garage. This was amazingly fun and actual had some good turn-outs. The most recent version ('02) had us doing a lovely Shakespearean number in a rose garden and a safari for the native wild improvisers of Bull Creek. We wanted to do a show in a cave but not enough people showed up. Improv is everywhere and will be exposed.
  • The Opening - Borrowed from The Electric Pickle Players, this form puts a group of pre-set characters into an art gallery opening. Using envelopes given to performers by interacting audience members, the characters attempt to meld a long form narrative amongst the people with boundaries between audience and performer completely gone. Thanks to Miles and Matt Leyen for their lovely art work. This was a huge success and made conceptual comedy just a little more exciting for everyone.
  • The Influence Format - An original format that only shows the dangers of outside influence over an improviser's body and will. A sociological psychology experiment, really. . . Turned out to be a hugely bad idea. We were so intoxicated with whatever that the audience felt left out and alienated. DO NOT TRY THIS IN YOUR THEATRE.
  • Crass Menagerie - This invented format showcases a number of pre-written and rehearsed sketch beginnings, around ten or twelve, and then allows the audience to vote on their favorites which are then improvised to completion, long form style. This was great fun and was the first time sketch and improv had coalesced to make for a beautiful show. On December 15 of 2001 we used original short films instead of sketches before we do the longform.
  • Movie Night - This was the only format we've ever done that required no improvisation. It showcased the best of the Jury's film and video shorts that have been compiled over several years, including Ghetto Hicks (the suburban life of a high school late night serenade band), The Army Scene, and Random Shit from Enchanted Rock. Highly good show. The 2002 version of whj m n looked to be equally as sweet as the first. It wasn't, however...
  • 27 Hour Show - Sparing the gruesome details, the Jury improvised it's way into history becoming the troupe with the longest continuous improvised narrative after a staggering 27 hour non-stop show that earned a fabulous review in the Austin-American Statesman. By the way, Guinness Sucks.
  • Maximum Suck - A spin-off band comprised of household percussive instruments that roams the streets looking for loose change and pockets of rhythm.
  • Flowy Free Form - This is an insanely simple format that involves a free form disconnection from scene to scene. We take one suggestion and the scenes come organically from that suggestion. Or, they have nothing to do with it, but are useful as far as their existence goes. The Jury hits this one on the UT campus in a regular manner.
  • The Messy Show - All in all, a failure that involved flying raw chicken, flung pasta, and bags of blood exploding on Gandhi. Some things just look so much better on paper.

Longform Improv Formats

  • Pop Musical - One of our best invented formats, this gives the audience the chance to choose from a list of CDs. The chosen CDs tracks are then used as the musical numbers in a full length improvised musical, while the actors are left lip-synching to the numbers, and improvising choreographed dance numbers. NOTE: The first weekend we did this, we had Madonna on Friday night and Eminem on Saturday night. This made for an interesting shift in gears for the actors.
  • SPIN - This format involves the talents of a D.J. willing to spin phfat spins while the Jury does reg. longform occasionally stepping down to allow the music to take over and occasionally busting a microphone or two. In its maiden voyage, we exploited the talents of D.J. Charismatic, A.K.A. The Honduran Hurricane in a show that way rocked about Buddhism and folding paths.
  • Monologues - In this invented format, three or four improvised monologues play as inspiration for the following longform. This aided us in committing to strong characters who had a bit of back story already in their pockets. We have yet to perform this format poorly. On January 12 of 2002, The Jury tweaked this format to present Cirque De Jury, an amalgam of Improv feats transcending and passing through other art disciplines in San Francisco, CA.
  • Drama and Comedy - This format involves the Jury taking one suggestion and doing a dramatic longform play on a pre-built set one night, and then doing a comic longform on the same set with the same suggestion the next night. You see, this way, you get the drama and the comedy that exists in one element of life.
  • Court Format - A revamped form of an earlier court format (see below), this takes a crime from the audience, plays out an abbreviated court scene, and then, after an audience vote of guilty or not guilty, plays out the longform that shows the crime and what leads up to it. This is a wonderfully joyous format with oh-so many payoffs. Thank you Andrei.
  • Avant Garde - This format inspired by avant garde film, calls fish for strange, disjointed scenes that may provide meaning or just be full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Willfully non-conformist and purely for artistic and aesthetic value. fishfish. We makin' DADA proud. We've also tried this in the context of a longform. It was interesting.
  • Shakespeare - This is pretty straightforward. We improvised a full Shakespearean play in a rose garden for Week in Weird Places III. It was about thorns.
  • Stab Wound - Our attempt at poking fun at the dinner mystery format, except improvised of course. This involved giving away free pizza and beverage to a sold out crowd. The show was decent, but let me tell ya, the rehearsal was fucking amazing.
  • Reg. Longform - This is simply extending and relating a group of scenes. You must hone the story skill before you can break the rules.
  • Relationship Freeze - In the style of the classic freeze game, any number of actors play out an improvised scene and when one of the sideline actors is inspired, they yell freeze and tag out certain actors. They then present a character that begins a new scene but relates to whichever characters have remained on stage. This proved to be an excellent training tool for future longform and feeling where the narrative should go.
  • Schmorgasbord - A structure we invented in rehearsal which calls for a series of scenes that take place in a large location, i.e.; the mall, a dormitory, etc. This seemed to help with keeping the story involved with itself and not getting too wild and far from the original story.
  • Guest Game - A person arrives at a house to pick up a date. After arriving, they encounter many different people that live in the home, all interesting characters that have no idea where the date is. We could never stretch this out longer than a half hour but it proved to be useful for character development and hero torture.
  • Day in the Life - A borrowed format from somewhere, this simply involves taking facets of someone's life in the audience and using them as inspiration for the longform to come.
  • Movie Trailer - A popular format among the audience and the troupe, this borrowed format involves a brief two minute trailer complete with voice over, followed by the movie for that specific trailer. This format naturally pushes us toward an energetic opening and the audience loves to see us try to fit everything from the trailer into the movie. Once, we even did the trailer and the full movie via closed circuit TV that was fed into the theatre and projected on the big screen. Highly good stuff.
  • Musical - This is just what it says. Except of course, it's improvised.
  • Fortune Cookie - This borrowed format involves six characters that are all finishing up their meals at a Chinese restaurant. They each grab a fortune cookie and read it out to the rest of the table. This fortune is supposed to be their inspiration and guidance throughout the narrative to follow. We have done this incorrectly twice and are now scared of it.
  • Restaurant Booth - This one specifies that all the action must take place in one location, not necessarily a restaurant booth. Worked okay.
  • The Play Format - This took the audience through the production process of a (fictional) play, showing audiences parts of the table read, a rehearsal, and opening night. This would eventually evolve into the show Process.

Shortform Improv Formats

  • Giant 4 Year Anniversary show - A hugely massive show that included a murder mystery longform (format chosen by the audience), our first shot at Proxy Improv, and Ace singing a lovely tribute to the troupe in the key of Rod Stewart. The first 1,000 fans received a friendship bracelet, the second 1,000 fans received a car.
  • Proxy Improv - People from the audience are brought up on stage and improvisers vicariously act through them. This was insanely funny the first time we did it at the 4 year show.
  • Court Format - At the time an unknown steal from Theatresports this pitted two teams of high priced lawyers against each other challenging to shortform improv structures, trying to develop an argument for their client. This failed miserably for reasons unknown and we have barely spoken about it since. But, it did pave the way for one of our best. (see Court Format above)
  • Sketches - Traditional sketch comedy that usually was randomly injected into shortform shows.
  • Ask Dr. Manning - A direct steal from Improv Olymipic's Ask Charna, this allows for the audience to place their concerns about their own lives into a jar before the show. Later, our own resident nut job, Dr. Ace Manning, pulls their concerns and gives some advice, after which a related scene is played out. This was very funny and we thank Improv Olympic.
  • 2 Year Anniversary show - This proved to be a wildly successful show to one of our largest audiences. It took the form of a talk show hosted by our own resident pop culture expert, Ace Manning, and featured musical guests, surprise guests (Christopher Walken and members of Jon's family impersonating members of Jeremy's family), flashbacks, and traditional Indian dancing.
  • Auditions - This is not a format and shouldn't be here.
  • Original Songs - The Jury holds copyright to several damn-funny songs including; Real Song, New Song, This Song, A.M. Town, and The Shakespeare Song. Folk guitar, good voices, and occasional percussion. Primo stuff.
  • Random Short Form - In our juvenile days, we simply imitated the masters with randomly strung-together improv games and lists of the prepositions. After inventing a slew of shortform structures, we feel we have matured and moved onto more legitimate and useful theatrical comedy. Excuse me while I step down from this large box of Zest.

Scripted Work

Their first shot at a scripted work was Tom Stoppard's Fifteen Minute Hamlet. It turned out very well and got a good response from the audience that showed up to our free outdoor performance at Wooldridge Park. The show was followed by some Shakespearean improv.

Secondarily, they penned and directed a new play, For the Love of You, Mother Dear, which attempted to set a world record for the shortest play ever to be performed. (Its running time was 1.28 seconds.) Unfortunately, The Guinness Book of World Records refuses to recognize the record.


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