Orlando Improv Festival – Day One
Orlando Improv Festival
September 25, 2011 – Day One
Sponsored by the Daily City
Winter Park Playhouse, Winter Park Fl
Hot McCartney and Mad Cowford
It’s the opening act for the second annual Orlando Improv fest, and while it looks like it might rain outside, inside a small group of improv artists infiltrate the audience and generate a ruckus as Hot McCartney launches into long form routine about a starving city obsessed with falafels in particular. Good choice – the word “falafel” is one of the most fun foods to ask for, even if the story about a town out of food and corrupt falafel ring didn’t draw many laughs out of the mostly partisan audience.
Mad Cowford now takes the stage for this split show. These 6 comics come from Jacksonville and are more oriented toward short form improve games like “You know what I hate?” I do know what they hate, its rap music and they put together a decent tag out routine about rapper Dr. I Killed Those Bitches” and his trip into outer space. They hit some solid laughs, kept up the pace and skillfully used tags to rapidly ditch ideas that weren’t clicking. This left the good stuff; they pulled off a train collision, shot a talking in monkey, and knifed Justin Bieber. They’re not subtle, but they’re funny.
The WHOLigans and Formal Apology
The WHOLigans have done some sellout shows at the Orlando Fringe, and started by a preshow where they collected their “suggestions.” That’s the name of a classic Dr. Who villain, and one their offstage members needs to figure out the villain’s name. Of course they can’t use actual BBC copyright names, so instead of “The Doctor” we have “The Adjunct Professor” who travels around time and space in a small Port-A-Potty. They work with exploding robots and a reasonably funny “hanging by the thumbs” torture scene, and feature lots of Sci-Fi in-jokes.
Following them we have three guys called “Formal Apology” out of Chicago, the world’s navel of Improv Comedy. These three dudes did a rambling long form they tackled the question “How do birds fly?” They were sharp and crisp, creating church ladies at an art fair, a voting booth and a dog pound. They kept up the story, but never actually got around to discussing birds. I liked them, but subtract points for never using the audience suggestion.
Atlanta’s Dad’s Garage is back in town, and while they take some liberties with the audience suggestions, they create striking scenes – A Hooter’s waitress sells Hot Wings to Muslims and some guys get their buddy drunk and give him motorcycles keys. Not everything makes sense, and when stuck they pace back and forth and make animal noises until an idea appears. But I give them points for the father and son camping and alternating with grandfather relating to a dying friend in a WW2 foxhole. These guys were the best show I saw tonight, and I hope they drop by again.
Four hours is about as much Improv as anyone should take in one sitting, and I’ll wrap up with Upfront Theatre from out in Washington State. While not as funny as other groups, these guys pulled together a very coherent long for story of a city ravaged by drug dealers and a crooked mayor. A few titters here and there, and no awkward moments, but what impressed me was sheer story telling. These guys built conflict and resolution with well developed characters and a bite of social commentary. Thumbs up – this show was worth their drive all the way across the continent.
The Orlando Improv Festival will continue through Tuesday.