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Central's improv team hits the big-time

The team's next show is March 31 at Central's Black Box Theater

Since FlipSide last checked in with Central York High School's improv comedy team, the troupe has journeyed to New York City for workshops and performed at the Big Apple and Bethlehem, in addition to holding sold-out house shows at the school.

And they're just getting warmed up, said founder and teacher Ben Hodge.

The team, formed in October 2013, now boasts more than 50 students, organized into four groups, who perform in shows at Central's Black Box Theater. They practice long-form improvisation comedy, performed live and sparked from one-word suggestions from the crowd.

"It's pretty cool what's happening," Hodge said.

Here's the latest on the team, straight from Hodge:

A mentor

Over past year, the team has been adopted by Amey Goerlich, a long-time New York comedienne and member of the Upright Citizens Brigade.

"She just said, well, let me come to you guys," Hodge said. "Amey Goerlich's a huge, huge part of what we're doing."

Goerlich has helped coach the team and has also helped connect it with other improv groups and festivals in New York, he said.

Last month, Goerlich produced a show in New York and invited one of the groups to perform onstage at the Peoples Improv Theater.

"We had Central seniors on the same stage as professional comedians, so it was pretty awesome," Hodge said.

Hitting the road

Through Goerlich, Central's team connected with ManDudeBro, a five-member group out of Bethlehem who have trained with Goerlich as well.

In December, the group came to Central and watched a show and judged the performances of the four groups.

The winning team went to SteelStacks Improv Festival started by ManDudeBro, held earlier this year.

"In many respects, they have a similar kind of vision," Hodge said of ManDudeBro. "They really created their own improv community there."

Next show

The team's next show is scheduled for March 31 at Central's Black Box Theater, and will feature the team's four student groups, and then two professional improv acts, Hodge said.

ManDudeBro will be one act; the other is a duo from Philadelphia known as Den Mother.

Hodge said typically, at Central improv shows, he leads a discussion in between performances.

But this show with ManDudeBro and Den Mother will be more akin to a professional event. There will be no discussions -- each of the four student groups will get 15 minutes as opening acts for the two headliners.

For those who have never experienced improv comedy, the night can serve as a great introduction, Hodge said.

"They will get a taste of what our teams are doing and a taste of what professional improv team look like," he said.

If you go

What: Improvisational comedy show

When: 7-9 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.), March 31

Where: Black Box Theater, Central High School, 601 Mundis Mill Road, Springettsbury Township

Tickets: Are $10, available at the door or through Ben Hodge at

Contact: Twitter @CYHS_Improv and @BenHodgeStudios; website: