Jazz and improv comedy are much alike—they both require close listening. But at least at a jazz show your don’t lose track of comically convoluted plots if you get up to use the restroom. Note to self: Don’t drink coffee before an improv show.
Never figured out what the players of Radio! Radio! were going on about on Thursday night at the Dallas Comedy Festival, except that it had to do with adoption. Indignity upon indignity was piled upon the adoptee, who managed to make wailing rather amusing. The recurring device of awarding and taking away Scout badges was pretty fun. Many a teenager could have aced the badge for being pathetic. But the plot, who knows?
Two of the Thursday ensembles were duos, a fine comedy tradition that brings relationships to the forefront.
Amanda Austin and Nick Scott, who comprise Manick, craft intense “down the rabbit hole” dramas of entangled psyches, often with characters who just aren’t right in the head. No matter how dark, there were always verbal zingers to keep the chuckles up.
The duo David & Terry Talk to Strangers, David Allison and Terry Catlett, went for broad humor and quirky plots, driven on this night by Catlett’s hammy playfulness and inability to keep a straight face. The audience suggestion of “selling a Corvette” stimulated a series of quick-paced vignettes that were well woven together.
The 787s base their improv suggestions on Austin landmarks. The set probably would have been quite funny if many of us had some idea what Cathedral of Junk and Hula Huts were. The third suggestion of swimming with dolphins provoked some cute physical humor, but mostly went nowhere.
Samurai Drunk, a sprawling group of seven men enthusiastic with playing make believe, was so deep into play that you half expected Peter Pan to swoop in and take them away to the Lost Forest. The epic plotline seemed to revolve, sometimes literally, around a wormhole, but coffee called again mid-set so it was mostly WTF?
Only the most diehard of an improv fan stays past 11 on a weeknight, but those who did were rewarded with Off Book, a new, looser, format for the Villian: The Musical brainiacs from Oklahoma City. As always, they brought the house down. The huge lift of energy after over three hours of improv was greatly appreciated by this old timer. What’s not to like about comic topicality relayed with the gregariously sung refrain “And it’s all shit from here.”
- Shock T's — Chicago songsmiths
- Kyle & Drew — exceptionally deft flights of fantasy
- The 313 — Keegan-Michael Key and friends
- Improvised Jane Austen — nuff said
- Pavlov’s Dogs — solid comedy theater
- TwinProv — brainy music duo from Oklahoma City
- Horrible Women — Maribeth Monroe of Workaholics: exponential Alice Murphy
- Maribeth & David: with improv zen master David Razowsky