Fantasy Weekend: NYC, Minneapolis & Austin

When you know you can teleport, you want to switch up your comedy palette.

Thursday June 7th 9:30 pm The Scene @ The Pit

Monoscenes are all about the slow play. Trust is the brick-and-mortar; no quick premise or witty tap-out is gonna save the piece. So of course decade-long partnerships (like TJ & Dave or oldschool Bassprov) will have a “that’s-how-they-do-it” escape clause. But what if you take people, heavy-hitters, from all over NYC and give them the same restraints? Should be a masterclass in making the right choices and LYDO.

Friday June 8th 8 pm Friend Request by Interplanetary Appeal @ HUGE Theater

Good packaging can make or break a show. Which is where HUGE Theater excels, branding each show with slick graphics and sharp design. The Social Network parody video for this show peaks up enough curiosity alone, but add a great community with strong performers and the ingredients for a crowd-focused set are in place. If you want to go meta with online life, here’s a great place to open up.

Saturday June 9th 10:30 pm Megaphone Show with Amy Heckerling @ TNM Austin

And this is just too damn good to pass up. Clueless? Look Who’s Talking? Fast Times at Ridgemont High? GOSSIP GIRLS?! Comedy nostalgia and pop-culture pleasure centers are practically convulsing over this pairing. Austin’s seasoned Armando team taking the conversation everybody in the room would listen in on and making it their own on stage? Shoot.

Nightcrawler has nothing on this weekend.


Fantasy Weekend: Chicago, DC, Philly & Houston

Thursday March 8th 10:30 The Reckoning @ iO

You thought this article was bound by time? Dust off that ruby amulet and rehearse your incantations cuz this Thursday we travel BACK IN TIME to TUESDAY’S set at iO with The Reckoning. When this group decided to try out their own style of no-holds barred improv on an off night, they said it would be their version of a high-stakes rehearsal. Turns out the crowds loved what they do and it has become one of the best loved teams in Chicago. This team has become an iO mainstay, performing weekly shows for over a decade. The ensemble includes Jet Eveleth recently one of New City magazine’s Top 50 Players of 2010. After attending her commedia dell’arte inspired workshops at TNM Nola, I don’t need my trusty eagle claw mirror ball to divine her scene work will be particularly emotionally resonant and physically absurd.

Friday March 9th 11 pm Nox Presents: Lights Out @ WIT

WIT’s been holding down the DC improv scene for years now. Once, I was blinded elven mage for mixing the wrong grog for their spring festivus. I’d like to combine these two worlds and check out Washington Improv Theater’s take on the non-visual improv form known as the Bat. The form was started by Georgia Pacific (including improv sage Joe Bill1), this show invites audiences to close their eyes and listen more keenly to the worlds that a collective group of seated improvisers create completely through sound. No doubt more pleasurable than stumbling through a briar patch screaming at how dumb Gimbli’s cloak makes him look with those pointed ears.

Saturday March 10th 8:30 pm Rare Bird @ PHIT

This team has been making a name for themselves in the past several years as one of the must see shows in Philadelphia. They’ve been performing throughout the city since 2003, and become an institution for comedy in the city of bro love. Combining a night of their comedy with a stop at Geno’s (whiz, with) and getting lost in the Chinese section of the Museum of Art2 is way better than that Rocky marathon I sat through three years ago. Seriously, Thunder Lips?

Sunday March 11th 8 and 9 pm STM and The Megaphone Show @ TNM Houston

And rounding off the weekend is a lovely stop at Avant Garden in Houston. The final series of shows for the Houston Harold Weekend, they bring two sets of improv fury. First, Stupid Time Machine brings all four members together for a break-neck set. A combination of founders, faculty and conservatory directors from New Orleans and Austin, this TNM house troupe has been building a name for themselves in festivals around the country while performing weekly in their hometown of New Orleans.

The second set of the night brings STM back as guest monologists for the Megaphone Show. Bringing a TNM twist to the classic Armando form, this team includes the artistic director and conservatory director of the Houston TNM, honorary TNM doctorate recipient and improviser badass Matt Donnelly, and Massive alum and Chicago resident Eric Mueller. Both Donnelly and Mueller gave workshops during the Harold Weekend, and Dr. Matt has received his title for being the first outside instructor to teach in all three TNM cities within a year’s time. Yes, he did receive a certificate.

And so ends another week of improvisation satiation. Also, read A Wrinkle In Time.

1 Another member of the extended TNM Family

2Seriously, it looks exactly like the compound I was teleported out of when I was held hostage by the Elders for trying to steal their invisibility scrolls

Fantasy Weekend: Pittsburgh, Phoenix, New Orleans, & New York

Thursday March 1st 10:00 Pittsburgh Improv Jam @ ImprovPittsburgh

This Fantasy Week is all about the community. Places that provide the space for interesting/weird/genius to happen. That’s why I’m starting off my unicorn ride with a stop in Pittsburgh. I’ve never seen a show in Pittsburgh, and I’m fairly certain I’ve never even stopped within the city limits. But something about the candor of this website in explaining what improvisation is while providing stage time for newbies sounds like they are in it for all the right reasons. Consider the $3 door and this description: “Seriously: talking about comedy is like trying to describe the color of a dream Crayon, or the effect that a cool breeze has on your income taxes. It’s just better to be here for it.”

Friday March 2nd 8:30 The Trifecta: PIMMP Edition Round 1 @ The Torch Theatre

Which brings me to Cage Match night in Phoenix, Arizona. This is the first round of the quarter finals, with all proceeds funding the Phoenix Improv Festival April 27th and 28th. Torch Theatre clearly cares about their scene, from a polished website and full calendar of shows to a community that is so strong they are closed the following Saturday night so people can attend instructors’ Jacque and Sam’s Wedding. Watching Salmon Shane square off against The Status Quo for a shot at the title; that’s giving the Torch comedy scene some nice stakes for initiations and piece-arc. Add in the Light Rail Pirates for a third set, while the votes are tallied, and I’m down for a Friday night jaunt out West.

Saturday March 3rd 9 & 10:30 Grand Opening @ TNM NOLA

But I know where my money is for Saturday night. The official grand opening of The New Movement in New Orleans, bringing together talent from multiple cities in the TNM collective. The night starts with Checkbook from Austin and goes into the NOLA edition of Claws with Fangs. 1 And the second set of the night puts powerhouse Handbomb opening for TNM founders Chris and Tami. There’s a reason the Big Easy is celebrating this opening with cover story articles. Individually hilarious, the progression of these groups together in one night will blow past preconceived notions of comedy. Include the brand new TNM website? Comedy in the South, consider your scene heightened.

Sunday March 4th 9:30 ASSSSCAT 3000 @ UCB

This is the show that cemented UCB as the place for NYC Improv.  The show name is born from Horatio Sanz’s commitment to comedic absurdity during a performance in a less-than-friendly bar. ASSCAT it is also known for the insane number of Comedy Superstar guests who’ve perform in it, including Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Andy Richter, improvising genius John Lutz (not this John Lutz) and many many others. As an Armando with pretty famous monologists, the free late-night slot has a seriously long line but also the most crazy cameos. While the original four seldom perform together anymore, the house cast is a tour-de-force.

And now to sleep on a rare speckled koala pillow bear.


Show 1 footnote

  1. Remember last week seeing CwF Austin Edition? Badass all-female group representation in both cities. Boom.

Fantasy Weekend: Favorite Shows, This Week, In the World!

This feature is a subjective take on what shows are most exciting this week. If you’d like to write a Fantasy Weekend we’re open for submissions. Email!

My pics for the top three shows this weekend are in weekday order:

Friday 10:30 Claws with Fangs @ TNM Austin

This all-female group may appear soft and lovely on the outside, but don’t let that pleasant smell distract you from their razor-sharp comedic talons. With members like Danu Uribe, who recently toured the WORLD and splashed Conan (that’s her standing next to old Red), TNM Austin Conservatory Director Vanessa Gonzalez, Yamina Khouane and Christie Grace, they make average absurdity hang in the towel. Bits of brain will be left on the Rosewood Ave floor. I’ve been meaning to catch opener The Sticky Boys for months now too. Oh, and did I mention the New Orleans edition of Claws with Fangs will be the first group performing for TNM NOLA’s grand opening next weekend? Let’s hear it for the ladies.

Saturday: 8 Whirled News Tonight @ iO Chicago

When I read the newspaper, I alternate between crying into Lucky Charms and buying stock in various cattle farms in Nebraska. When the Whirled News Tonight team reads the newspaper, they spin by-lines and first sentences into the finest silk comedy carpets. Yep, kind of a welcome mat for approaching what a f’ed up world we live in. It’s like if Jon Stewart took hallucinogenics and pop rocks. Last time I saw these guys, when Padraic Connelly made a subtle Jaleel White callback 30 minutes into their set at Hell Yes Fest, I laughed myself into a urinary-tract infection.

Sunday: 8pm Improv A Go Go @ Huge Improv Theater in Minneapolis

The doors to the Huge Improv Theater in Minneapolis opened December 2010, and in the past year they’ve been producing 12 weekly shows. I want to spend a week here watching everything from dream-team Show X on Mondays to the coyly un-described Bearded Men Improv (WHAT IS IT ABOUT?!?!), but for a one-night stand I’d hit their Sunday showcase. A lottery of any and all improv (local, state, and NATIONAL!), it gives the improvisational equivalent of if Neapolitan ice cream had all 31 flavors. I can’t think of a better show to sample what the Twin Cities improv scene has been building in the past several years.  Plus I’d get a chance to wash down the longform goodness with Delerium Tremens on tap at the awesome Nomad Bar on Cedar Ave. Belgian beer and bocce ball, post-belly laughs, is my idea of a Sunday night that doesn’t involve crying into breakfast cereals!

Fantasy. Actualized.

Fantasy Weekend: The Top Five Improv Shows I’d See This Week Anywhere in the World!

This feature is a subjective take on what shows are most exciting this week. If you’d like to write a Fantasy Weekend we’re open for submissions. Email!

My pics for the top five shows to see this week are in weekday order:

Wednesday (that’s when the weekend starts right?)   11:00    TJ & Dave @ IO Chicago

I’ve seen TJ & Dave live one time and it was a transcendent experience. I will be arriving in Chicago early in the evening, by magic eagle, and dining at the Thai place around the corner from IO. That place tasted really good, although I’m unsure if they’re open for dinner. Even if I get dinner-disappointed the show is likely to be amazing!

Thursday   9:30    Block Party @ TNM Austin

I heard tell that last week’s Block Party went totally out of control. There were strange videos and crazy contests. I miss that ol’ Austin Block Party vibe sometimes and I will be arriving for this Thursday’s show in a carriage pulled by wishes.


Friday 8:00The Garfunkel & Oates Hour @ UCB LA

The fact that this show is sold out already would affect me, if this weren’t a FANTASY! Hurray, this being a fantasy I am also staying at The Standard in LA and having a really weird time with some crazy folks on the roof-top bar after the show. In the morning I will have several breakfasts sent to my room and fly back to Texas in a plane, a regular plane. I’m not that damn spoiled in my fantasies.


Saturday 8:00 Steam, Rose Colored Goggles, and the Flight of The Victoriana @ SVT Austin

In real life I won’t get to see this show and actually have never been to Salvage Vanguard Theater. But in my fantasy I get to see some friends in this show and have a positive experience with some genre-prov. Then I teleport  back to Houston for Sunday.


Sunday 7:00 TNM HOUSTON: Improv Zero, Shootaround, Special Sauce Show @ Avant Garden

On this last night of my fantasy five show smorgasbord I’ll cherish being back on home turf as we have a shootaround and a fun show. This is a new night and venue for TNM Houston so it will be nice to support adding extra improv to the Hustle Town scene.

Fantasy: Complete!