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Mail Order Bride. The Gentleman’s Club. Kind Strangers.
Are these: A) movies from the 40’s; B) things on Charlie Sheen’s wish list; or C) improv comedy troupes. If you guessed “C,” you’re not only right, you’re timely. The Phoenix Improv Festival is one of the big events on tap this week in Downtown Phoenix.
In addition to a line-up of notable talents from the local improv scene, the Festival will showcase troupes from around the country. A total of twenty-one different groups will perform, and the mix will include comedy, films, musicals and experimental works.
Opening night is Thursday, April 14, followed by shows on Friday and Saturday night, including a family-friendly performance. All shows take place at the Herberger Theater, and you can reserve tickets by calling their Box Office at 602-254-7399, ext. 156.
So, what kind of entertainment can you expect? “People kind of assume improv is what you see on the Drew Carey Show,” said Executive Producer Bill Binder, referring to Whose Line Is It Anyway? “A lot of people have no idea it’s not about impressing the audience with how funny we are. We are actors doing a show – sometimes funny, sometimes dramatic, sometimes musical.”
I have to confess that came as news to me, since the improv I’ve seen has always emphasized the giggles and guffaws, usually built on audience suggestions. But don’t worry, comedy buffs. You’ll find plenty of laughs at the Festival.
In fact, I’d like to single out one local troupe I’ve seen, Die Puppet Die, whose stage act is genuinely hilarious. Mack Duncan and Stacey Gordon, who create all the hand puppets used in the act, present both scripted one-act plays and fearless improvisations with the help – or hindrance – of their puppets.
Other troupes at the Festival will include Apollo 12 and the Light Rail Pirates from Phoenix, Dumpster Tequila from New York, Dr. God from Hollywood [Editor’s Note: Dr. God features actor Matthew Lillard of Scooby-Doo and Scream fame], and ColdTowne from Austin, Texas.
So get your timer or second hand ready. The Festival should be at least a laugh a minute.