Addison — The Alternative Comedy Theater is staging its 10th Big Weekend of Improv July 6 and 7 at the Addison Conference and Theatre Centre and Pocket Sandwich Theatre in Dallas.
This year’s roster of troupes has something for everyone including family-friendly entertainment, performances inspired by Broadway musicals, and some sets sure to be heavy on dance and others heavy on middle-aged men singing.
The festival kicks off Friday at 7 p.m. with The Band, a Dallas troupe of five dudes who like to sing, so fair warning, according to troupe member Jason Folks.
“It’s stunning that we have been performing together for years, and this is the first chance we’ve had to submit ourselves for this,” Folks says. “The Big Weekend is a Dallas institution, and we are very excited to appear. We tend to skew more toward the energy of short-form, but we have a lot of long-form sensibilities in our arsenal, too. We aspire to try and blend those into something that allows for longer narratives while still maintaining the immediate and frequent interactions with the audience that we personally love.”
Folks adds that the other troupes in the first time slot, Too Shy Guys and Sondheimlich Maneuver, also rely heavy on song in their sets.
“There’s an embarrassment of riches when it comes to their musical talent, so that’s a great bit of fun for us to see,” he said.
Sondheimlich Maneuver certainly sounds promising, assuming the players act in the vein of a shocking Sweeney Todd or other Sondheim work.
The second show Friday has a couple from San Antonio sandwiched between two stalwart Dallas-area troupes.
Encyclopedia Moronica brings a history book on stage, asks an audience member for a page number and then creates scenes based on the text found on that specific page. Well, kinda. It’s improv after all. Best to just sit back and see where the troupe takes the topics.
TylerCo examines what happens the “morning after.” And The Victims have been performing together so long that the players somehow manage to finish each other’s sentences before they start. If that makes any sense.
The festival continues Saturday at 1 p.m. at Pocket Sandwich Theatre in Dallas with a slate of three family-friendly acts full of young improvisers.
The Levelheads are a bunch of Wylie high school students using long-form improv to create a cohesive story from a series of scenes. The Ript Script is full of current Plano East Senior High students as well as alums who play a number of improv games “based on what it means to be human.”
Comedy Sportz Dallas is a long-running troupe that pits two teams of area comedians against each other in a competition that isn’t really cutthroat insomuch cut up.
Red Dirt Improv has been a Big Weekend of Improv favorite the past few years and perform again this year in the 7 p.m. slot Saturday. The Norman, Okla., troupe brings an Okie sensibility to the Metroplex that often results in big laughs at the expense of said Metropolitan area.
James Murray of Red Dirt says the group “will perform a wacky montage of scenes based on someone’s real text messages.” Murray appreciates the way The Victims try to one-up each other in scenes and also eagerly anticipates seeing Parallelogramophonograph, or P-Graph. The Austin quartet creates “dynamic improvised plays and theater in the moment.”
P-Graph performed at the 2011 Edinburgh Fringe Festival that led to a 2012 tour across the U.K. The troupe also spent three weeks touring Australia in 2014, in addition to performing at festivals across North America the past few years.
The ACT believes in the transformative power of comedy and has once again teamed up with The Birthday Party Project. Big Weekend attendees are encouraged to bring new, unwrapped toys, party supplies, or party favors that the nonprofit will use to throw birthday parties for homeless children who otherwise don’t get to experience them. The project hosts monthly birthday parties at homeless and transitional living facilities across the country.
Schedule of shows for the 10 Big Weekend of Improv:
Friday, July 6
Addison Theatre Center, Studio Theatre
Too Shy Guys
Saturday, July 7
1:00 p.m. at Pocket Sandwich Theatre
The Ript Script
Comedy Sportz Dallas
5:30 p.m. at Addison Conference & Theatre Center
Grapes of Laugh
Death With Benefits
Red Dirt Improv