By Salvador Malo
Like the period in my life when I stopped reading expiration dates, my first experience with improv comedy left a sour taste in my mouth. Who could blame me? I thought improv comedy would always range between college aged numbskulls playing mad libs on stage, or jabbing quick (but rarely funny) pokes at Drew Carey’s expanding abdomen.
Late in my college career, my friend Bill dragged me to a show at Dad’s Garage entitled ‘Scandal.’ To say I was blown away would understate my reaction to their unique take on long form improvisation. That night, I walked away with a grin plastered on my face. The next day, I made an even greater discovery about improv comedy. Any story told on stage is told only once, and it is completely non-relatable to any mouth breather outside of the theater (telling someone an improv joke holds the same appeal as telling someone about your dreams). Disheartened, I couldn’t believe I had found such an amazing venue, but had so little I could tell others about. I knew one thing for sure, I wanted more.
Today, I’ve been volunteering at Dads Garage on and off for around 4 years. I’d like to relate what I’ve learned about enjoying the show, as well as how to get involved yourself.
For most scenes, an improviser will panel the audience for a suggestion.
You know that thing you do? The thing where you yell penis pussy boner shaft tuna taco station for every suggestion? That’s really funny. It also makes for a shitty improv scene. Seriously. Even short form improv like Dad’s Garage tells a story with an introduction, tilt, and conclusion. If you start a scene in the gutter, it has pretty much nowhere to go. I know you think you want to see a scene entitled: Fonzie’s trip to the C**k factory, but trust me. You are dumb. Really, really dumb. You came to see a show, and your Id has no part in it unless invited to do so. Unless you made it past 9th grade Lit, try and keep your monkey face shut.
Getting on stage as part of the audience
Super easy, you can:
a. Sit on the aisle and make nervous eye contact with the improvisers when volunteers are needed
b. Raise your hand (bonus points if you have giant tits, male or female)
c. Point to a friend who doesn’t want to go on stage (bonus points if you are screaming like a kitten in a girdle being torn apart by bulldozers)
If you find yourself on stage
DO NOT PANIC! This is not ‘The Price is Right’, you can make no stupid comments. You will never be asked to do anything more complicated than say the first word that comes to your head. The improviser’s job is to make you look good, even if you mumble and drool (they will probably just copy you). There is literally nothing you can do wrong. If you were the friend pointer, you deserve worse.
Shows at Dad’s change all of the time. There will always be a night of what is deemed ‘TheatreSports’ (challenge based improve where teams compete head to head), but otherwise the theme and moniker for each show fluctuates monthly. From my experience, the performers at Dads tend to do better with less structure rather than more (I’m looking at you scripted shows). Although I have seen several structured shows over the years that were unbelievable – “Song of the Living Dead”, “Cannibal the Musical”, etc – many have been disappointments.
Shows are every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 8:00pm and 10:30pm.
Do you like improv? What about free improv? Volunteer.
Dad’s Garage is a non-profit theater, and they need bodies to help out at every show. Volunteering for a show means you get to sit in for free (assuming there are empty seats) and buy some beer on the cheap. All this involves is checking ID’s at the door, selling tickets, or ushering people to their seats. As an added bonus, every night you volunteer gets you a $5 discount towards taking classes at Dad’s (classes come highly recommended, typically run ~$230 for an 8 week program).
If you are planning on going, buy your tickets online, and buy them early. There is nothing worse than being turned away because an abnormally high volume of people came through before you (it’s happened to me on a date before, she sucked anyways). Discounts may be found through ScoutMob or purchased if you have a student ID (student discounts are available for Thursday shows ONLY). Thursdays are the cheapest night to go ($5, $10, $15), followed by Fridays ($13, $18), and Saturdays ($15, $20).
For buying online, visit http://www.dadsgarage.com/Shows.
If I’ve learned anything about Dad’s Garage, it’s that the best audiences would make a great mob. They scream together, laugh together, and jerk towards awkward sexual tension one by one. Translation? Enjoy a small slice of groupthink circa 1984, and scream when you are asked to scream, count when you are asked to count. Every night is an experience you will only see once, and you have to be there to live it.
For more information on Dad’s Garage, visit their website, Youtube page (not an example of their improv, but funny nonetheless), and Facebook page.