Every last Wednesday of the month there’s a free Improv class at the World Famous Dallas Comedy House. Every last Wednesday of the past 6 months, I’ve found a reason not to go. *record scratch* *freeze frame* So I bet you’re wondering how I got here. To the last class of a 2 month long program, looking at performing in my first Improv showcase.
Puns. Some people hate ‘em, and some people love ‘em, but only the latter group is correct and heavenbound.
That’s why you need not worry the afterlife whereabouts of Roller Ghoster, whose practice was more delightfully pun-heavy than any group I have profiled. A bread-centric character was dismissed as being too “kneady.” A fumbling pallbearer “dropped the pall.” And of course, their name is a pun.
If the Guinness Book of World Records ever starts a category for “Most Unique Improv Format” – and they should, in a raised font on page 1 – Encyclopedia Moronica should take the honors.
It works like this: One Moronican takes the stage as something of a professorial or authoritative type (formerly, they always used the character of an actual history professor, but have relaxed this rule a bit) who comes on stage with a history book, and asks the audience for a page number.
Whatever historical subject matter that is on the chosen page represents the theme of their show, and the authority figure who started the proceedings will start pontificating about it. The rest of the troupe, sitting in the audience, will pelt him with questions, comments, and wisecracks for a couple minutes, before joining him or her onstage where the show begins in earnest.
There are few troupes, in Dallas Comedy House or elsewhere, that have as many tentacles as Midnight Passion. I don’t mean that as in appendages, although between Raye Maddox, Jordan Armstrong, Jeff Garlish, Jessica Roth, Camille Long and Lisa Michalsky, there’s 28 of those (I’m counting legs and arms, but I’m not up to the math of counting fingers and toes and I can’t confirm all troupe members have the default numbers of those).
If you haven’t heard of Ladybird’s Johnson yet, you probably will soon. As of this writing, they are two victories into their King Of The Mountain run. For their first victory, they knocked off a troupe going for that golden fourth victory, with which you retire undefeated.
The rise of Ladybird’s Johnson, which is made up of Marissa Nieto, Camille Long, Brittany Mason, Lara Gough, and Emily Ball, is as inevitable as they are ruthless. I hope they look favorably, or at least piteously, upon yours truly when the reckoning comes.
Duos. They aren’t just the best sorts of Cheez-Its (sharp cheddar AND parmesan? I’m so grateful to be alive right now!) but they are an increasingly common troupe permutation. And why not? Few practice logistics to handle, and when you have good chemistry with one troupemate, you have good chemistry with them all.
So is the case with Just Friends, a duo consisting of Paco Giurfa Ley and Kelsey Clay, whose surnames wonderfully rhyme. Paco describes their troupe as “"without a set premise or defined format. Sometimes it's a monoscene, most of the times character pops and scene jumps happen."
Paco specifically asked if they could get their questions answered by one of the duos they draw inspiration from: Amanda Austin and Nick Scott’s Manick. Manick is DCH’s longest-running troupe and has done scads of festivals, a real tag team par excellence.