It's been a while since I went out to see improvisational comedy. I feel like I kind of burn out on itÂ â€” after all, it can only be as good as the audience, the performers, and the circumstances. In addition, I tend to hang out with some pretty funny people so it's not uncommon for some extremely hilarious things to come out of it (for instance, I have brought up several times the idea of a Faustian superpower wish that goes awry when the power is revealed to be pooping delicious chocolate â€” and the comedy of failing to convince anyone that it is indeed true).
Anyway, I headed over to The Multi-Use Community Cultural Center (MuCCC) (142 Atlantic Ave.) to see the public debut of Polite Company Improv Sketch and Comedy. They were indeed funny both in their improv and in their sketches. I really appreciated that they catered to me being in their audience rather than targeting evangelical Puritans and forbidding swearing of any kind. (Seriously: the show doesn't need to stop if someone says "fuck" once.) Of note was their final sketch which was shockingly offensive, but ultimately quite funny.
Afterward I walked over to The Bamba Bistro (282 Alexander St.) for the after-party and got a chance to chat with the crew. (By the way, Bamba Bistro is a pretty upscale-looking place that draws people who like to be seen in upscale-looking places and, on this night, rowdy improvisers and their friends and fans. I'll add that friends raved about an astonishing meal here years ago and I assume that would continue to be true.) The two women running the troupe are engaging and focused â€” hopefully we'll see Polite Company shows for years to come.
I read about the Injured Superhero Show at The Multi-Use Community Cultural Center (MuCCC) (142 Atlantic Ave.) and decided I to go. I have a green coat with light-up question-marks on it and I figured I could make something up if need be. (I bought the coat at a thrift store a few years back: it's a woman's raincoat that fits me perfectly and it is completely day-glo green. Naturally I couldn't resist. I added the question mark motif for Burning Man a few years ago and have used it at night there for a while. It's also been a Halloween costume, and now a superhero outfit.)
I had no idea how it was going to work, but I suspected something between an audience of passive superheroes to interactive improvisation. All I knew for sure was what the website said: "Injured Superheroes will be cast the night of the show. If you are interested in auditioning, please come in costume to [the MuCCC Theater] at 7 PM. Those injured superheroes auditioning will be admitted for free." I probably should have planned ahead more, but I arrived pretty much right at 7. I guess most people got a little instruction … maybe just for the actual theater actors. Anyhow, the way it worked was the "Baron of Bureaucracy" was interviewing injured superheroes to determine whether they should receive disability benefits, or if a new job was available. I decided I'd be the "Socratic Defender" and became disabled by being so sure of myself that I was unable to ask questions to find truth in the world.
I went up second (after Catwoman, now retired from crime, was distressed after devouring most of the village of NIMH.) I had hoped the Baron would devise a way to trick me into asking a question. In the end I accidentally did, so concluding my need for services. As the show progressed, the Baron started trying to solve people's problems.
In all, the show was a lot of fun â€” sort of a group-improv kind of thing that most people handled just fine. I talked with the crew afterward and I was one of a few (if not the only person) who came in "off the street." Five of us decided to go out afterward, in costume. We originally tried to find some "bar full of straights" to inflict ourselves upon, but couldn't think of something that would be attended by an unsuspecting crowd, and actually open on a Monday night. In the end we went to Lux Lounge (666 South Ave.) Although I'm sure people noticed, few seemed to care. I think we got more looks because it was Arts and Crafts night and they may have briefly thought we had made our costumes that night. Nonetheless, it was nice to get out and meet new people once again. Hopefully a new superhero-themed show is not far off and we'll get to do it again.
Ali and I had a nice dinner at California Rollin' at Village Gate Square (274 N. Goodman St.) then headed to [location redacted] to see Village Idiots Present (VIP)'s improvisational comedy. It turned out to be their first show so it was a little rough around the edges, but overall it was very funny. The players in the troupe have very varied styles, strengths, and weaknesses and I'm sure this will set them up to have a strong showing in Rochester.
The only thing I didn't really like was that the support staff tended to act too formal â€” it was like going to Geva except that the structure wasn't backed up with any foundation. For instance, we were instructed to sit toward the front when it really didn't matter as there weren't really any stragglers. And as for the improv, there were a couple times when some ego-based and fear-based "no's" tripped up the performers' stride.
But if you're going to take risks, you're going to sometimes fall big and other times win big.Â In this case, it's worth it.