Behind the Improv in Trust Us, This Is All Made Up


A cannily filmed performance by noted improv team TJ Jagodowski and David Pasquesi bookended by reflections on the nature of their work, Trust Us, This Is All Made Up is a spare, impressionistic sketch of two artists who have learned to work as one. Both natives of Chicago and veterans of the Second City scene, the duo founded what was meant to be an improv troupe; the miracle of performative alchemy convinced them to forge ahead as a two-man act. For five years, they have confounded audiences with their one-hour shows, each one spontaneously conceived and structured by the Zen-like principles of improvisational acting. Those tenets—being open, saying yes, and accessing the sub-conscious frequency that informs transcendent improv—are showcased by the performance that director Alex Karpovsky (Woodpecker) recorded at New York’s Barrow Street Theatre. Some of the mild riffing of the movie’s opening sequence—shot in split screen, the pair are shown in contemplative, pre-performance mode—resurfaces during the show in illuminating bursts. Jagodowski and Pasquesi establish and travel between a host of characters with a deft use of voice, gesture, and, of course, responsive instinct. The moments of triumph are best witnessed live, but Karpovsky captures enough of the thrill to make this film a destination of its own.