Pulling sketch material from various past revues, this mash-up succeeds in bringing, as the introductory voiceover promises, “speed, volume and hilarity” to weekend matinees and Tuesday nights. And though there are a number of big misses (unfortunately placed at the very start in a proposal scene at an Applebee’s and at the very end in an improvised eighties action flick that flopped hard at the show I saw), the solid hits throughout make for a delightful introduction to Second City-style comedy. Read the rest of this entry »
Writer-director Byron Hatfield offers a different perspective on the Star Wars saga in “Stormtrooper Stories,” a comedy about two inept troopers (Matthew Lamson and Mark Rosenthal) who just cannot catch a break. Whether it be pulling traffic duty on Tatooine or watching a fellow trooper be “magic choked” to death, these two intergalactic soldiers stumble over more territory than the Millennium Falcon. And in the process they realize that maybe, just maybe, they’re not actually the good guys. Read the rest of this entry »
Theatre Momentum has launched a troika of forty-five-minute productions which all stem from their goal of creating improvised theatrical events that are more like plays than games. While all three performances are technically one-acts, one of the three is entitled “One Act.” This is the show that anchors the line-up. Under Tony Rielage’s direction, a cast of nine actors (only six of whom were performing on the evening I attended) create a series of scenes in a montage long-form-improv structure. There is no audience prompt to kick things off, which neither adds to nor detracts from the overall improvisational nature of the performance. Read the rest of this entry »
In “Tribulation: The Musical,” playing now in iO’s Mission Theater, mankind’s worst fears are confirmed—the world is burning and murderous Horsemen of the Apocalypse ride the streets, but you still have to show up for your shitty nine-to-five. For would-be-poet Genevieve (Sarah Hoffman), not even the Rapture distracts from the fact that her dreams of intellectual stardom have given way to a data-entry gig she hates and co-workers whose companionship she dreads. And that’s before her company is suddenly taken over by the Antichrist. Read the rest of this entry »
When I attend a sketch comedy show, I want to walk away having enjoyed myself. I also want to be able to tell people about the sketches that I just saw. You know, in that same sort of way that people like to talk about SNL at work on Monday morning. With “Act Accordingly,” the members of Brand New Toys keep the viewer entertained for sixty minutes, no small feat, but those sixty minutes are promptly forgotten when exiting the Public House Theatre. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s hard to find a consistently good improv troupe. To gain the distinction of being good at anything requires a record of success, which is hard enough for the subjective art that is comedy without adding on the additional hurdle of creating your own content every night. Judging that art, then, is even harder, because only so much can be gained from a single exposure to the variable work.
So I’m not certain if the concept of the Under The Gun and The New Colony collaboration show “M.F.S.P.D.L.T.L.” (sorry, word limits) is a good one or a bad one for improv. Certainly, it sounds like it’s perfect: an actor from The New Colony performs half the dialogue in a scene from a New Colony play, while an Under The Gun ensemble member improvises the responses, with no idea what’s coming next. Naturally, this leads to moments of confusion, where the improv comes into direct conflict with the script. In the show I saw, the improviser introduced himself as Bob, but was immediately referred to as Todd in the next line. Read the rest of this entry »
“We are bibliophiles, we know every book known to man.” So begins “Dan & Kate’s Book Club,” a Friday-night foray into literature for the ludicrous. If you are truly a bibliophile, and the idea of an improvised show based off your favorite esoteric novel appeals to you, this show will either tickle your erudite sensibilities or disappoint you until you make snarky comments about how you didn’t expect them to know that author anyway. Read the rest of this entry »
When you hear “Porn Minus Porn,” that is, porn without the sex and all of the naked people, you might think, “Why?” After all, the most deplorable part about porn, okay, other than its gender politics, is the writing. The dialogue always makes one wonder, “Why would anyone bother with anything other than the sex?” I admit that going into this show at Under The Gun Theater, I was less than optimistic about the possibilities of pornography without sex. Read the rest of this entry »
“Soap Box Derby King,” the titular theme song, is still circling through my head the morning after seeing the show, though I wish it wasn’t. I also wish I knew more of the lyrics than just, “Soap Box Derby Kiiiiiinnnnggg!” which keeps popping loudly out of my mouth, much to my roommate’s chagrin. Unfortunately, that’s the only thing stuck in my head after seeing “Soap Box Derby Kiiiiiiiinggg!” at the Annoyance Theatre. Read the rest of this entry »
Regardless of what comes next, I want to say this: Under The Gun’s “Camp Tree Top” is Chicago’s premier onstage exhibition of short shorts. Bar none. Critics talk about “courage” onstage, but real courage is just four vertical inches of vintage rayon between you and the audience. That part of the show is downright heroic.
As for the rest? Welllll… Read the rest of this entry »