Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
HAMTRAMCK – They’re back!
And the Los Angeles-base improv troupe, The 313, couldn’t be happier!
“I f–king LOVE Detroit,” said Andy Cobb, the only member of the troupe without solid ‘313’ credentials – that is, he never lived or worked here before hooking up with his fellow improvisers. “Just coming here and knowing that there’s going to be some f–king rain – oh, man, I’m so excited!”
Cobb was in town a few weeks back with two other members of The 313, Larry Joe Campbell and Marc Evan Jackson, to work on a project unrelated to their upcoming gig Aug. 5 at Planet Ant and Aug. 6 at the Magic Stick. The trio – along with Keegan-Michael Key and Josh and Nyima Funk – returns to the Motor City each summer to stage a few shows to help raise funds for Hamtramck’s Planet Ant.
“In a lot of ways, this is still home – even for those of us who weren’t brought up in this area,” said Jackson, who came to Motown in 1997 as musical director, and later, main stage cast member of Second City Detroit. “And it’s a lovely time to come back and do some shows amongst friends and loved ones.”
Plus, added Michigan native Larry Joe Campbell of ABC TV’s “According to Jim,” “Detroit gets it! You can’t say that about every city. It’s a tough crowd in L.A.”
“L.A. doesn’t understand improv,” nodded Cobb in agreement.
And that’s despite a weekly dose of the art form staged by The 313 at Second City Los Angeles. The troupe has been performing together since the arrival of Cobb, Key and the Funks in Los Angeles looking for work. “They came into L.A. with some folks to do a showcase,” Campbell recalled. “They were moving into town and wanted to make it a regular gig, so they invited Jacks and I. We just thought we’d play for a few weeks.”
But the team clicked.
“We have something unique and something special to offer people who like this particular craft,” Campbell added.
Although those of who live in the fly-over states are often thought of as unsophisticated, improv – it seems – is appreciated far more here than in Schwarzenegger country.
“We can take far bolder chances on stage in Detroit than in L.A., and I don’t mean playing ‘blue’ or being dirty. We can be more theatrical, more abstract and more conceptual,” Jackson said. “It’s refreshing to come home and do scenes that say something about the world in which we live. In L.A., I think a lot of the people in the audience are going, ‘Could I make money by putting this on TV?'”
“Here, we can have dramatic improvisation and people will follow it,” Campbell said. “In L.A., not so much. They have that ‘Whose Line is it Anyway?’ mentality where it’s very much to be entertained through comedy.”
Campbell promises that patrons of their upcoming shows in the 313 can expect an evening of fresh material. “We take it upon ourselves to dive into the Free Press, the News and Between The Lines to get some idea of what’s going on in this town before we perform here. That’s a responsibility to us. In L.A., they don’t want that. They want to hear about dick in your mouth.”
Or at the very most, Jackson added, “They want to see your Schwarzenegger impression.”
The shows will also include plenty of multi-media.
“We shot a bunch of shorts – 37 at last count,” Campbell said.
What the troupe likes to do, Jackson said, is litter the stage with all sorts of options, such as a piano, a camera, various improv games and DVDs of their original films. “So if where a previous scene just took us is appropriate for one of our short films, maybe that’s where we’ll interrupt and say, ‘You know, we’ve got a short film on that subject, so please enjoy.’ There’s no set schedule.”
It is, after all, improvisation. And that means – except for the pre-recorded videos, of course – “Everything else that they’ll see on stage will be made up as we’re performing it,” Cobb stated.
“Our job is to entertain people,” Campbell concluded, “and we can’t wait to get to Detroit and entertain those motherf–kers!”