Orlando Improv Festival
September 26, 2011 – Day TWO
Sponsored by the Daily City
Winter Park Playhouse, Winter Park Fl
Dear Aunt Gertrude and Loaded Dice
As I was barreling down I-4 in the torrential rain, my thoughts ranged from the threat of sudden death by texting soccer mom to last night’s Improv shows. The thought that stuck in my mind (besides “will I meet Grandma, and would she still be all wrinkly?”) was there sure are a lot of large men in the Improv World. But tonight “Dear Aunt Gertrude” popped in with a trim, buff, and a half female troupe. They get points for looks, and with a very light early audience they struggled to find laughs. The theme was “baking” I assume) and homey things were there fodder. There multiple vignettes wandered through a baking competition, a “Welcome to the neighborhood” party, and a girl getting booted off the Powder Puff Football team. Nothing really gelled, they kept swinging for a crowd pleasing idea, but suddenly the Magic Flashlight went off in the booth and “Bang.” Show over. Comedy was particularity brutal tonight.
Next up we witness “Loaded Dice” from Kansas City – they blast in to the theatre in Mormon shirts and subtly patterned power ties. After high-fiving everyone they can reach they plug their own Improv festival and introduce their long form “Family Dinner” game. It’s Harry Potter Day, and while there was an amazing amount of blocking, they rolled some slightly off color comedy that started to click. Their big laughs come from little side vignettes – I was impressed with the repurposed gift gag, the puking on the miniature golf course bit, and a reminiscence of meeting J. K. Rowling in her younger vegan days. She proclaims “My farts smell like heaven’s Dumpster!” The evening is starting to look up.
Offsides and Jana Banana from “104.1 The Phillips File” perform “The Armondo”
Jana Banana from one of our many local Clear Channel choices comes out and tells true stories about her life as the troupe of five locavor comics act out a scenes based on her life. This show rocked as the house filled up and the jokes flowed like comedy after the second drink. Maybe the material is better; maybe this troupe had their chop down tighter, and maybe a room full of laughers made this show connect. The comics run a scene until Jana calls time out, she tells more reveling stories about wheelchair basketball and tandem skydiving and interning at a radio station, and even knocks out a paraplegic joke. It’s a nice touch, and this is a classy event – we had our second puke story of the evening.
This festival has finally hit some sort of critical mass – the lobby is crowded, herds of black T-shirted men stand outside smoking and debating what “funny” means, the bar is making money, and some descent rock and roll replaced the Benny Hill soundtrack, and it’s time for another Chicago based group. “3033” does long form, which seems to be the focus of this three day show, and these guys take an audience idea and promptly ignore it. There story wanders around a Top Gun Lone Wolf substitute teacher and I wonder if it’s just a coincidence that the sound booth has the Top Gun Theme cued up. This is another show that had trouble finding a center, but did draw laughs from an audience that was now becoming very familiar. Some of the material works, like the raw chicken shooters and the Brazilian Funyuns gags, but most of it leans toward some rather icky sexual situations. But by now the audience is taking control of the room, and the energy is much better even if the comedy could use some polish. I was hoping to hang out for Bear vs. Wizard, but a sudden home emergency pulled me away. One more day to go…