Less Sport and More Songs

Montreal’s French Improv League, La LIM, is on Weekly and Always Evolving

Performers with the L.I.M. at Le Lion d’Or. Photo Fanny Arnaud
Performers with the L.I.M. at Le Lion d’Or. Photo Fanny Arnaud
Performers with the L.I.M. at Le Lion d’Or. Photo Fanny Arnaud

They seem to perform a play, but they don’t. They also seem to know their lines and staging, but they don’t. From the beginning to the end this show is pure improvisation while the audience is drinking and eating the homemade French fries in the crowded Art Deco room.

The Montreal Improv League (la Ligue d’improvisation Montréalaise) performs every Sunday night at the jazz-era institution Le Lion d’Or. Each show sees two improv troupes perform several short plays created by the actors and suggested by a “master of the game”, while a band plays next to the stage.

Each of the five troupes has a team colour. Delphine Bienvenu is an actress with the greens. She has been acting since she was six and studied theatre at Montreal’s Le conservatoire d’art dramatique. For her, improvisation can’t be compared to theatre.

“If you try to film the play or to transcribe what is being said, it won’t work,” Bienvenu said. “What really matters is the magic of the moment.”

Arnaud Soly, from the orange troupe, is the artistic director of the league. He said that the Montreal Improv League is different from other leagues in town because of how it has evolved from Montreal’s standard improv-format.

“It was organized like a sport,” he said.

But slowly they changed the rules. There is no winner anymore.

The plays are no longer timed. The actors only know if it must be short or long and the bell is ringed only when the story ends. “The most important thing is to wrap the story up,” said Soly.

That night’s MC, Simon Boulerice, chose the themes for each skit. Boulerice is a 30-year-old author who has written nine plays and two novels. He’s wearing a black tuxedo and a red bow tie. Each time he stands and talks, the audience is captivated. The dialogue between him and the host is hilarious.

During the show, most of the themes he picked were titles of his works as a writer, such as “gum bleeding”, “the monsters below” or “Eric doesn’t look good.”

Several times, Boulerice chose themes related to music, most notably “with Bonnie Tyler’s voice,” (he himself sang a few notes of It’s a heartache to start the scene off) and each time, the actors improvised songs with a decent melody and coherent lyrics. Audiences love it when improvisers sing and it made this segment the most impressive of the show.


The Montreal Improvisation League (LIM) at Le Lion d’Or (1671 Ontario St. E.) / every Sunday at 8 p.m. / Tickets $10

Come on March 2 during La Nuit Blanche and get a free ticket to that Sunday’s show