Megaphone Marathons: Houston, Day 2

The second day of the Megaphone Marathons in Houston went off without a hitch. Earlier in the day, improvisers got together at the St. Arnold Brewery to try a beer or two from their wide array of selections. Little did I know this is a place where people took their lawn chairs and their kids and play skip-bo. You know, a typical Saturday for these folks. The fatigue of watching so many improv shows is always a factor, so bear with me. Anyways, here is the day two recap from this past weekend:

Starting off the night tonight was Checkbook (Austin) who recently traveled to New York for the Del Close Marathons. These five lovely young ladies start off with the suggestion of a compliment somebody received was “You remind me of Matilda from the books”. Immediately I knew this was going to be great. Everybody did a monologue of a character they would introduce throughout the set and of course it was an all-womens english boarding school. “Dildo person”, who wasn’t even a member of the school, has to take her clothes off to fix things, but Rose the Red Barton the school bully abused this fact by constantly breaking things. Not cool, Rosie.

Next up was superteam Ideal Boy (Houston) who just blew me away seeing them for the first time. These guys OPENED THEIR SET WITH A CD RELEASE. How badass is that? Scenes included stereotypes against lesbians (played by two dudes), a stellar good cop/bad cop played by both the accusers and Shyla, who denied offing her mom’s head. A bear did it instead. Also, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for endowing people to not have certain limbs. Buy their cd (don’t think it’s online yet).

Lucy (Austin) had an intriguing set highlighted by Atticus Rowe blowing everyone away by playing somebody just back from the war and singing a great impromptu “Proud to be an American.” Riding that post 4th of July power, Lucy pulled away.

The two-person Opposites (Austin) opens their sets in avant garde fashion playing trippy music and exclaiming why they are opposite of each other in every aspect. What ensued was an entertaining story wherein Patrick Knisely’s problem with oversized shirts and shoes and belts at Old Navy because they were cheap was remedied. Also, watch out for duck people and resumes.
Blink (Houston) met the Beatles, who weren’t the actual band, but something sexual. Apparently the secret service doesn’t like you instagramming the White House. Yeah for instagram for making it into a scene and yeah for blink for having a really good set.

It was getting a little late and people were a little tired, but surprise group Brown Like Me (Austin, New Orleans) came on stage and blew everybody away. Their opener made fun of the stereotypical racial scenes you might expect from two people with a much lesser level of intelligence than C.J. Hunt and Vanessa Gonzalez who help run the New Orleans and Austin theaters respectively. They both claim to be from Brown University, which is close to be being completely true. Scenes included a mailman and a woman with big popeye muscles both dreaming big dreams about moving to Hollywood. Another awesome scene involved C.J. picking up Vanessa at a coffee shop by knowing what her typical, very odd, orders were while she couldn’t make choices for the life of her.
BirkRich (Houston) were a two-girl troupe who played a couple people in a bandito gang. We also learned that people become vegan by watching the Walking Dead and that you can be traumatized by the game Mousetrap growing up.

The Bat (Austin, Houston, New Orleans) was formed during the Improv Wins conference this past January and is comprised of people from all three cities. The opening suggestion of a pleasant sounding word was “orgasm”, which is a bit dangerous if you think about it. You either have to go all the way with that suggestion or be completely clean. This was a mix of both, but always coming back to a sweet porno scene.

Abstract Rainbow (Austin) is a puppet variety show and Patrick played puppets as members of his wife Erica’s family and you know how family members can be.

Juicebox (Austin, New Orleans) were Reagan, Allen, and Chris Trew and they had a tough time painting Allen for a still painting because he wouldn’t stop opening his mouth. Don’t people understand how portraits work?

Butchershop Quartet (Austin) had one of the best sets of the night. Justin Strackany gave a great intro talking the team down, when they would actually really step it up. The four men were all rocket scientists working on a love potion, but also dealing with the realities of it being a dangerous thing you don’t want to mess with. Harsh past relationships were had to be dealt with, including a “science prom” gone completely wrong and a floozy servant of a mad scientist turning out to actually be a man.

Then the weird short one-off shows started…

DOA (Houston) must have done well considering it’s members, but I can’t read anything in my notes at this point.

Bird Dog (Houston, Austin) was an incredible group of Shyla and Megan Simon, who started off their set with a beautiful conversation talking about cute things like what their favorite movies were. Then the first scene starts with the line “Well this baby isn’t going to abort itself!” Megan also lied about wanting to fuck a cat and a broom closet conversation entailed the question “Have you ever let a guy eat you out while on your period?” by Shyla. I almost gave this set a standing ovation.

To close out the night was Vaudeprov (Houston), the vaudeville improv team. The mainstay in these super weird night cappers is Matt Gawloski who was born  for this role as a vaudeville improviser. Things got crazy on a blimp and he got hit by a pie. Also, pants were coming off for some reason. Couldn’t end the night better.

Houston was great. Austin and New Orleans have a high rope to jump
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Megaphone Marathons 3: Day One

The first leg of the 2012 Megaphone Marathons took place July 13-14 at the Frenetic Theater in Houston, TX. The importance of this weekend is not to be understated. Houston is the newest member of the New Movement flag, which has already established themselves in Austin and New Orleans. In arguably the biggest improv festival that Houston has ever seen up to this point, Houston impressed with an array of performers looking to take their comedy to the next level. 28 troupes from all three cities. Two days. Ten hours of improv. Totally worth it. Here is my recap of day one of the marathons, which was anything but unlucky for taking place on Friday the 13th (no jokes were made about this, thank you.)To start off the night was the troupe Heroes of Milkton (Houston), which happened to be the first graduating class of TNM Houston. They started off with eight different monologues to gain information to form scenes with1. It definitely was a smart way to open a show broadcasting Houston talent. The scenes ranged from people trying to buy balls at Walmart early in the morning and Ripley himself re-thinking his “believe it or not” campaign.

Next to step it up early in the night were the Sticky Boys (Austin), who put on a montage while also trying to bring in information from the previous scene to the next. Scenes included dueling dinosaur exhibits heightened to a Live Nudes exhibit and a jump rope competition gone seriously wrong. Jump roping evolved to ribbon twirling and then to stick and hoop games. Towards the end of the show Andy DeVoe was calling Rob Gagnon from in jail. Kevin Jacobson yelled in a voice that could have been Rob’s mom, but Andy claimed it as one of the people in jail waiting to use the phone. Eventually, the voice became synonymous for both people which made for a delightful scene.

Laser Heart (Austin) had a super absurd set talking about sherbert, while also playing characters with brand names like “North Face” as their actual names. The ending scene featured two split scenes of awkward exchanges, leaving Reagan Ward to play two characters having a profoundly awkward conversation with a former sex hookup.

Rogue (Houston) did a speed Harold, which is a type of Harold more accessible to a general audience. It went smoothly with scenes about cowboys hitting on each other and Antoine trying to abduct people, which seems to be a theme recently.

Chris and Tami (New Orleans) are the dang founders of The New Movement so their shows are always a must-watch. Chris started off as an abusive grandfather that only gave his granddaughter goldfish crackers in water (eww) to eat and had a video of grandma and him doing it ready to show at any moment. The next scene was a daycare sequence where the kids sent letters cut and pasted from magazines (like serial killers do) to a wife being cheated on by a dental-obsessed person. Various love scenes occurred, the backwards N in the Nine Inch Nails was referenced. This show was definitely more fulfilling than beating Mario 2.

Up to bat next was the TNM Training Camp (Houston) and they had some solid scenes after working extremely hard on their crafts the past few days. Highlights included running dog obstacles for humans, Jim Meyers purposely mixing up “I like Predator, too” with “I like Predator 2″ (horrible movie), and Evan O’Neil wishing he wasn’t awkward or ugly just so that aliens would abduct him.

One half of Disco Box (Austin), Ariel Greenspoon and Christina Parrish, injected the crowd with a shot of adrenaline with their opener; they affected an air of badassness in front of the audience and called their other two troupe members ‘pussies’ for not showing up to the Houston marathons. These two rising stars out of TNM Austin started off with a very serious crime scene and every scene elevated leading to a lab scene chock full of sexual tension while trying to deal with evidence.

Veteran performers Handbomb (Austin) brought the craziness with an opening scene about collecting diabetes and synesthesia, so you could catch them all?? Cool. Eating coconuts and bananas? Check. There was also something about a kitten god? Got it. Oh and there was a pretty sweet good cop bad cop scene in there somewhere.

Wolf Cry (Houston) started off with a ‘Would You Rather’ game to start the scene, which is a really fun way to do it. This was actually the (soon to be) 2nd graduating class of Houston and there was a lot of energy and tumbling around during a circus scene these guys really put their body on the line for their craft.

Fematoma (Houston) was the first team to win a Main Event in Houston. Lisa Friedrich was a child medium that drew very creepy pictures that were all true. There was also the most disgusting scene I’ve seen that has taken place at a catering business. I’ve worked in catering before, so this hit lose to home. Awesome all-girl troupe.

Spirit Desire (Austin) is on their last month farewell tour after being one of Austin’s premiere troupes for years. These guys just have fun on stage. The opening took place all over the stage and space available in the theater. This set included: shadow puppets, penguin slides, ninja turtles slides and ninja turtle weapon use. Being one step past meta about scenes and actually entering the audience at one point, Spirit Desire continues to push the envelope of what improv can be every time you see them.

Three groups at the end had about 10 minutes each closed out the night.

Tin Hats (Houston) opened their scenes with musical sequences, which I found amazing. Great set.

Dress (Houston, Austin) dressed their scenes, calling out the environment before starting, every scene. Matt Graham was using some fancy words in odd ways and Brady James chimed in with the best line of the night: “Did you get that from the word of the day calendar you got at the Denny’s Christmas party?”

Jousting Bieber (Houston) closed out the night2 in fashion wearing fancy jackets and hats and talking in British accents. I had no idea what was going on at this point of the night, but it really worked.

Overall, it was about as solid as of a night as you could have had to start the 3rd annual Megaphone Marathons.

Show 2 footnotes

  1. ed note: Heroes of Milkton performs The Eric Hungerford
  2. Nearly 2:00 in the morning