Dallas — Tony Romo doesn’t call plays after consulting the crowd. Erkyah Badu doesn’t take requests. But many improv troupes ask for audience participation prior to their performance.
Often an improviser will crowdsource a one-word suggestion or phrase or movie or song title, etc., for the troupe to draw inspiration from. Usually this process goes off without a hitch. Sometimes an audience gets trite or douchey. Every once in a while this process goes completely off the rails, which is where it went Saturday night at one of the final shows of #DCF2015.
Bangarang! is an eight-person team that has been selling out weekly shows at the Upright Citizens Brigade in L.A. for a few years. They’re seasoned improvisers, writers and actors. A couple are current cast members of hit television shows. And they’re funny as all get-out.
When they queried Saturday night’s packed house about things to do in Dallas for people making their first visit, the answers were neither trite nor douchey. There were bizarre and grew more pathetic with each response. It took a second before a hand went up, but then one did. You there in the back.
“A president didn’t die here."
World-class answer right there. Wait, that’s not an answer at all. It just a completely irrelevant sentence chock full of insecurity and paranoia. That’s the first thing an audience member came up with. WTF, Dallas? And to much of the audience’s credit, they were refraining from participating because many are improvisers and comedians, and they were deferring to the laity, as it were. At least, I hope that’s what was going on. They also could’ve been just as perplexed as me.
The adults on stage quickly refuted the ridiculous statement, saying they went to the Sixth Floor Museum earlier. So, um, duh! Next.
“We don’t all ride horses.”
Another baffler, there, huh?
One Bangarang! member said something to the effect of “we’re asking what there is to do. Not what you don’t do,” as some bewilderment crept in.
Now a smattering of hands went up. Finally someone’s ready to right this ship.
“Yeah, I gotta say, it’s pretty awesome here.”
Classic. Smoke another one.
Now we’re cooking. Let’s hear from this dude, and I’m more paraphrasing than quoting from here out as I couldn’t believe what these numskulls were spewing.
“I was at this taco festival around the corner like six/eight months ago and on this one corner was an unattended donkey so I took a picture of it.”
Really? A donkey. On a street corner. Next.
“The other day, I saw two bums fighting.”
“This one time at band camp, I got into a fight, well, actually I threw the only punch of my life, and I kinda missed, and hit him with my wrist, which hurt for like the rest of the day.”
A troupe member asked what the fight was about.
“He took my Where’s Waldo? book. Ya know? The third book with the yellow cover.”
From stage, oh, yeah, of course, the yellow one. We’re familiar.
“I had to buy a new shirt because a bird pooped on me.”
Is that the new shirt? No. Next.
“Went to the Dallas World Aquarium the other day, and it’s more kinda like an indoor zoo. Saw a jaguar.”
“I work at a restaurant and this one time this really old dude like slipped and was like falling really slowly like 0.5 miles an hour [strange giggles and chuckles] … I dunno, I’m not good with math [more uneasy laughs]… and I’m like ‘ma’am … ma’am … ma’am’ trying to get one of his family members’ attention [from the stage: did you try and catch him?] … well, I wasn’t sure if I could or if I’d get sued ... so he just finally goes down like [speaker now using slow hand motions lowering his voice to a whisper] … poop.”
At this point, I turned to Tim next to me and said: “That was pathetic. What is wrong with these people? Why would you choose to relate any of those things to anyone at any time, much less here, now?” Tim confirmed my misanthropic suspicions with “glad I’m not the only one who thought that.”
Even the Dallas Comedy Festival producers found the audience suggestions oddly comical, as evidenced by this Tweet:
While I was certainly confused by this series of nonsensical statements, Bangarang! was not. They had listened to what the audience said regardless of how inane and idiotic, and then they proceeded to use all of it in a hilarious set.
There was a donkey. There was a horse driving a car. There was a bird crapping on one guy early and often. There was grandpa falling toward the ground in slo-mo while restaurant employees tried to have him sign a waiver. There was a president taking umbrage with his driver’s stupid attempt at a joke. There were a few bum fights that never really got going. There was the couple in from Reseda looking for something to do in Dallas being met with strange non-answers. There was a lot of laughing.
Just as there was all week at the Dallas Comedy Festival. Amanda Austin and Sarah Adams put on one hell of a party. TheaterJones was lucky enough to cover every night of the sixth annual Deep Ellum comedy showcase.
Austin, owner of DCH, and Adams, executive director of DCF, brought world-class comedic talent to Deep Ellum just as they have each year of the festival. Next year promises to be bigger and better because the Dallas Comedy House is moving to a larger venue with two theaters on Main St. as I type this. Shows begin again April 7 with the weekly Open Mic.
TJ Jagodowski and David Pasquesi followed Bangarang! with another set of improv genius. And there were plenty of quality sets from all the performers Saturday night. But, I’d’ve been remiss if I didn’t recap those wackadoo comments.
Now go see a live improv show, or, better yet, take a class and get in on some of this hilarity.
TheaterJones has covered every night of the Dallas Comedy Festival. Below are links to previous reviews: