Addison — “Show don’t tell” is an oft-repeated trope. In writing. In acting. It’s a crutch to get a scene going or to get a review started. Ahem.
Thankfully for the audience at the Alternative Comedy Theater’s ninth annual Big Weekend of Improv (the "Sexy" has been taken out of the name) there was a lot of show. And a lot of singing.
Some highlights of the hilarity Saturday night at the Addison Theatre Centre’s Studio Theatre (ACT upgraded from the Stone Cottage, used in previous years) included one folksy trio, one quartet of admittedly awkward ladies and a non-talking troupe that performs with an ambient soundtrack of Dick Dale-styled tunes and other tracks you might hear in a Tarantino flick.
Folksongs Against Humanity is straight outta Hippie Hollow in Austin. Their wigs immediately signal their intent to have fun. The troupe takes cues from Cards Against Humanity. Each member draws a card and kind of lets the audience decide which of the three themes will become an improvised folksong. But when one member draws a card that reads Bitches and another draws Nazis, it’s clear where that scene is going.
Still, “Nazi Bitches” wasn’t even their funniest of the night, as the ballad “Half-Assed Foreplay” with its chorus of “… it’s a crime … take your time” resonated for big laughs each time. The refrain to “The Blood of Christ” was “it’s sacrilegious and it makes me uncomfortable” and it was also really funny.
The players of Austin-based Golden perform without words. The five men and two women on stage took an audience-suggested occupation of video gamer to some ridiculous places. Our three protagonists initially were seated on the sofa playing games as the others acted as avatars. Soon the trio broke through the imaginary fourth wall and into the game a la Tron.
After her two conspirators were captured by an evildoer, Jessica Von Schramm appeared hung out to dry. But she spun comedic gold out of what can be a daunting task for even the most skilled improviser—alone on stage. Her plight seemed even more precarious due to the troupe’s no-talking mantra.
But her castmates were always there with another token or power-up or Easter egg to help her escape any predicament. It got better and better as it went along. Once she’d freed her friends, she was transported back to the sofa and ran around kissing and hugging everyone like Dorothy returning to Kansas.
In a Facebook post Sunday morning, Von Schramm acknowledged the quality of the show remarking that maybe it was the troupe’s best yet.
“Rehearsing constantly for two and half years has paid off in so many way,” Von Schramm wrote on Facebook. “Silent improv is not the easiest thing to do, but it’s so effortless with these people.”
After Party is an all-female musical improv troupe based in Chicago. The four ladies took no time showing the crowd how high their freak flag flies with a song about “how we’re all a little awkward.”
Sydney Clinton said the group likes to invest in characters, and the montage style of longform improv appeals to their interests and talents.
“As a group, we really groove when we can tell multiple stories in a single set,” Clinton says. “It is simply how we have the most fun.”
Alice Stanley Jr. was particularly hilarious in one scene that had some teachers complaining about a broken Keurig coffeemaker in the faculty lounge, much to the dismay of Stanley’s character. “If the Keurig don’t work, Shelia don’t work,” she said. She called it back after the troupe finished a song about “these kids today” for another big laugh.
North Texas native Holly Lambert also shone as a woman modeling new feminine hygiene products such as the handbag that doubled as a … well, you know. Even though the women of After Party weren’t actually holding anything, it was easy for the audience to envision these prototypes because the improvisers adeptly showed how each product works.