By D. A. Blackburn
Wednesday is not generally a big day on the calendars of local theater fans, but Ferndale’s Go Comedy! Improv Theater has found a cure for the mid-week doldrums – a bargain three-feature bill chock-full of local talent.
The evening kicks off at 8 p.m. with a program Go Comedy! calls “The Golden Hour,” featuring two resident teams, Generation Gap and The Launch Box, in audience-influenced improvisational comedy.
Generation Gap features performers of varying ages, which proves to be a special treat for regular guests of the area’s improv troupes. While improv often tends to be a theatrical genre for younger performers, there is a special appeal to seeing – shall we say – “seasoned” veterans alongside fresh-faced talent. The literal generation gap makes for a unique blend of comedic tones, and on a recent Wednesday, the team earned some of the night’s biggest laughs riffing about (the audience-picked theme) high school graduations.
The Launch Box, conversely, is comprised entirely of aspiring young performers, but their performance during a recent “Golden Hour” was no less raucously funny – and perhaps even a bit edgier. Though their scenes tended to be more hit-or-miss than those of the Generation Gap, it’s obvious that several of the team members have bright futures in comedic theater.
The evening’s second feature is the “Proving Grounds,” in which three local comedy troupes perform a mix of improvisational games, challenges and sketch comedy, varying from week to week and from team to team. The result is a very raw, visceral comedy – improv in its purest form. Last week’s standout performances include Chris DiAngelo and Susie Jacokes of Go Comedy’s home team Merrill Stubing, and Andy Wotta and Ryan Parmenter of team Netflix – all of whom proved to be quick on their feet, sharp witted and able to keep the laughs coming at the break-neck pace established by emcee Pete Jacokes.
The third and final feature of Go Comedy’s Wednesday night line-up is “Fresh Sauce” – the theatrical equivalent of karaoke. While this comparison may not sound entirely flattering, “Fresh Sauce” yielded some of the evening’s best comedy. And moreover, it is as interactive as theater can get. Anyone in attendance can sign up to improv in a supportive, structured environment, alongside talented pros.
Simply put, it’s a perfect opportunity get started in the world of improv. And “Fresh Sauce” looks like it could be a lot of fun with a group of goof-ball friends out for a night on the town.
Like all improv, Wednesday nights at Go Comedy! are a mixed bag, and a bit of a crap shoot. But while the people involved change from week to week, it should be said that the caliber of performers is quite high. Go Comedy! is a relatively new addition to the Detroit-area theater landscape – having opened in November 2008 – but the company is populated by a cast of characters more than familiar to local fans. And even during the doldrums of the mid-week, they can round up a lot of funny friends.
‘Wednesdays at Go Comedy!’
Go Comedy! Improv Theater, 261 E. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale. Every Wednesday beginning at 8 p.m. Tickets: $5. For information: 248-327-0757 or http://www.gocomedy.net