IndyFringe: Type Cast

This is part of IndyFringe 2022, Aug. 18-Sept. 4 (individual performance times vary) in downtown Indianapolis. Details and tickets at IndyFringe.org.

By Wendy Carson

The show, “Type Cast” by Steve Freeto, tells us it is improvised poetry, poetic improv, stand-up comedy, and maybe music. What it consisted of for me was some fantastic comedy from the special guests.

We started out with a nice performance from James Avery (Your Handsome Neighborhood SpiderJames), who aptly describes himself as looking like Harry Potter got slapped with puberty. His set was a delight and I greatly look forward to hearing more from him in the future.

Our second performer of the evening was Shannon. I didn’t get her last name, but I hope she won’t hate me for that (I do know she masquerades as Marie Antoinette occasionally, but you’ll have to ask her why). She was also a fresh comedic voice whom I also hope to see again soon.

Afterwards, we get to the main three performers of the group doing what they call “Sad White Boy Improv”. This portion of the show had a rotating guest poet from one of the other IndyFringe shows included.

Their goal is to take a suggested word from the audience and have one of them tell a story involving it. The other two members then enact scenes from the story, and the poet creates a poem involving the word. While this sounds typical, they were not prepared for our audience. We were told that traditional silly words were not to be used so we ended up hitting them with words they had to look up online to be able to use (example: petulant). Still, they did their best and the show overall was pretty funny.

Freeto, who studied at Second City in Chicago, is the founder of GoProv of Goshen, Ind. For more information, visit his site, goprov.org.

IndyFringe: IndyProv Presents ‘Our Favorite Fringe Artists’

This is part of IndyFringe 2022, Aug. 18-Sept. 4 (individual performance times vary) in downtown Indianapolis. Details and tickets at IndyFringe.org.

By Wendy Carson

This year, the minds at IndyProv have decided to amp up their comedic prowess and invite performers from various other IndyFringe shows to join them onstage for their improvised comedy performances.

The visiting guests are different for every performance (the cast of “Ship of Dreams” joined them when I attended) so you can return and see a completely unique show each time. IndyProv has also embraced the modern age by having audience members text in their prompts rather than write them on pieces of paper.

The show consists of various improv games (some of which were new to me) which highlight all of the various acting and comedic chops of the cast. One thing I did find, when giving the players a subject, activity, or item, sometimes the most ordinary things can provide more inspired fun.

So, be sure to catch their next show(s). It’s a fun time for (almost) all of the family.*

“IndyProv Presents: Our Favorite Fringe Artists” takes the District Theatre stage 5:30 p.m. Friday and 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 2-3.

(*Some adult language; you know how actors get.)

IndyFringe: PANEL SHOW

This is part of IndyFringe 2022, Aug. 18-Sept. 4 (individual performance times vary) in downtown Indianapolis. Details and tickets at IndyFringe.org.

By John Lyle Belden

Spare a thought for poor Mark Cashwell. Over the last two years or so, this man whose performances largely rely on making improvisational comedy with other people had no companion but the telly. Not the American television, but the device showing chat shows and “programmes” with celebrity panel games, such as those hosted by Jimmy Carr.

You don’t need to know of Carr or appreciate his deadpan “humour” to enjoy “PANEL SHOW,” Cashwell’s interpretation of the genre. He hosts an ever-changing lineup of panelists, who may or may not include Thomas Peterson, Kimber Renee, and performers not in another Fringe show at that moment. They play games that could involve popular music, or revealing embarrassing stories about themselves. It’s quite likely they will play British Scrabble, in which what words are allowable may not exist on either side of the Atlantic, but at least sound English-ish. There is also a Distraction, who might be Bill Wilkinson as a clown (this too, varies). Points will be scored, which may or may not matter.

What is certain, however, is that there is something not quite right about Cashwell. (Other than his usual state, I mean.)  

For us watching, as well as the panelists, this hour is a lot of fun and just a bit absurd. Observe this smashing good time Saturday and Sunday afternoons, Aug. 27-28; and Thursday and Saturday nights, Sept. 1 and 3; in the cabaret stage at the District Theatre.

IndyFringe: Spontaneous Tales of Science-Fiction

This is part of IndyFringe 2022, Aug. 18-Sept. 4 (individual performance times vary) in downtown Indianapolis. Details and tickets at IndyFringe.org.

By John Lyle Belden

Stroopwafel Improv are a group that does silly strange things that make you go “ha ha” and “wha?” and “did they just say…” and more “ha ha.” And it is different at every performance.

This time around, there is an attempted theme – science fiction. However, weirdness knows no limits of time and space, so we get physical humor, odd relationships, and odder jobs, but probably on a future Earth. To aid their quest, aside from the regular audience suggestions (feel free to make it challenging) they have a performer from another Fringe show as a special guest. This person won’t be roped into an embarrassing game, but asked to give a possibly embarrassing monologue, from which ideas will be culled for the next series of comedy bits.

And be warned, even an odd throwaway reference in the opening improv game could become a bizarre recurring bit, as these folks take to it like a dog with a bone, gnawing at it in callbacks until all the humor marrow is extracted. (That sounded so weird, I won’t be shocked if it ends up in a sketch – my apologies.)

They are freewheeling with the entendres and occasional naughty word, so this is for teens and up, but do look them up, and see how truly weird and funny the future can be. Performances are Aug. 21, 26 and 27, and Sept. 3-4, in the Athenaeum.

IndyFringe: Win, Lose, or Die!

This is part of IndyFringe 2021, Aug. 19-Sept. 5 (individual performance times vary) in downtown Indianapolis. Details and tickets at IndyFringe.org.

By Wendy Carson

The ComedySportz Indianapolis team is back with another hilarious show for all ages. In this “Comedy Cage Match” of sorts, six performers play various improv games in order to be the last one standing, and win the big prize.

While the roster of players is mostly the same, there are occasional substitutions, and with audience feedback fueling their efforts, the show is always unique.

Contestants enter with “Survivor”-like introductions and each carries an envelope with a particular game inside.

Leading the mayhem is Ed Trout as game master Phineas Pheabody. He oversees the competition and counts the audience votes to determine who will be given immunity from elimination. Eliminations are totally random, as they are determined by a roll of the dice from an audience member.

So take an hour out of your schedule and check out this zany competition, held in the District Theater. Regardless of who is named champion, the viewers are the true winners.

IndyFringe: Act A Foo Improv Crew

This is part of IndyFringe 2021, Aug. 19-Sept. 5 (individual performance times vary) in downtown Indianapolis. Details and tickets at IndyFringe.org.

By John Lyle Belden

Put simply, Act A Foo Improv Crew is “Who’s Line” hilarity with Hip-Hop swagger. For several years, these young men have been spinning improvisational games around Indy, and they just keep getting better.

And don’t think these gentlemen won’t “go there.” When a suggested person, place or thing courts controversy, emcee Daniel A. Martin gives an “oh, well” grin and the Crew makes it funny. So, I’d say the content is for teens who have seen R-rated movies, and older.

Still, it gets far more silly than dirty. The performance I witnessed had a spot-on Edward Scissorhands, an entertaining mime of Build-a-Bear, and a mangled charade of Red Lobster restaurant that more resembled SpongeBob Squarepants. There was also a trio of Denzel Washingons trying to out-”Training Day” one another. In other words, just another day for AAF.

So bring your best suggestions — or your worst, they can work with it — to the IndyFringe Theatre and be ready to roll out of your seat laughing

IndyFringe: Footlose

This show is part of the 15th Annual Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival, a/k/a IndyFringe, Aug. 15-25, 2019 on Mass Ave downtown. Info, etc., at www.IndyFringe.org.

By John Lyle Belden

Yes, that’s “lose,” with one “o.” ComedySportz is doing more than hosting a venue, it is also presenting a parody in the style of one of its long-form improv shows.

“Footlose: A No-Dance Town” mocks the classic coming-of-age film that brought us Kevin Bacon’s Angry-Dance, brought to life by ComedySportz cast members Rick Randjelovic (director/writer), Todd Kenworthy, Frankie Bolda, Jamie Rich, Matt Kerkhoff, and Chad Woodward. Of course, they can’t do it all alone. Audience suggestions help propel this parody, aided by buckets into which we place slips of paper with popular quotes and funky dance moves.

Apparently, we’ve all seen the same movies, because the citizens of this mid-American town keep having to find new ways to say “We’re going to need a bigger boat.” And it’s interesting how many ways they come up with to do the “Funky Chicken.” Still, these are professional goofballs, so the laughs keep on rolling as they re-enact something roughly resembling the Bacon flick, and get it done within the allotted hour.

It was good to see these comedians “cut loose” in their natural habitat. Remaining performances are Thursday through Saturday (Aug. 22-24) at 721 Massachusetts Ave.

IndyFringe: ‘Let’s Play a Freakin’ Boardgame’

This show is part of the 14th Annual Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival, a/k/a IndyFringe, Aug. 16-26, 2018 on Mass Ave downtown. Info, etc., at www.IndyFringe.org.

By Wendy Carson

To begin, a couple of notes:
1. The titular Boardgame changes for each performance (mine was Clue, today’s is Monopoly)
2. This show has audience participation and interaction (however, you will not be pressured into doing anything you don’t wish to do if this bothers you).
3. Each performance will have a “winner” and they will receive several new games with a net worth between $50 & $100.
4. The show is presented by veteran improv comic Mark Cashwell (who previously presented his “Improv Talk Show” at the Fringe)
Now for my thoughts on the show:
As I mentioned above, the Boardgame for the Friday night premiere was Clue. Various members of the audience were conscripted to play the various characters and in a delightfully innovative stroke of comedy genius, he has them each draw their weapon of choice.
Dice are rolled, challenges are faced, clues are revealed, the murdered is ultimately discovered, and a good time was had by all. By the way: It was Mr. Green in the Lounge with the Sex Toy.
So, for a delightfully hilarious take on games and gaming come on by Comedysportz (which is also the only venue serving actual food) and test your luck.

IndyFringe: ‘Tonight, Tonight’

By John Lyle Belden

Comedy works best when the comic has someone good to play the jokes off of. In “Tonight, Tonight,” the improv talk show, that person is you!

Mark Cashwell is attempting the TV talk format as a one-person show, no sidekick or bandleader, and the tech in the back is mostly there to play music for the dance breaks — there are dance breaks, you will dance.

You could also be “Tonight”s guest.

To be honest, this show only works if you help make it work. But when you do, the result is hilarious fun.

The show also includes breaks for “commercials,” when familiar local radio ads get skewered.

So give Mark your time, some suggestions, your funky moves, or even silly answers to “What’s your movie about?” and he will give you a highly entertaining hour.

Remaining performances of “Tonight Tonight: An Improvized Late-Night Talk Show” are in a few minutes — 9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 24 — and at 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in the downstairs stage at the Phoenix Theatre, 749 N. Park Ave.

Festival info at www.indyfringe.org.

IndyFringe: Act a Foo’ Improv Crew

By John Lyle Belden

I debated even bothering with this review, because who doesn’t know about Act a Foo’? For a few years now, this ensemble has been making people laugh with improvisational comedy all over Indy. They even have a regular gig at the IndyFringe building.

For this year’s Fringe festival, the Crew are on the Phoenix Theatre mainstage. And from what I’ve seen, they get funnier and more polished with every performance. So, naturally, what you next see will be even better than what I saw. Funny how that works.

The style of comedy is little “games” like the popular TV show “Whose Line is it Anyway”  in which audience suggestions get incorporated into skits make up on the spot. These guys have been at it long enough that they even enjoy throwing verbal curveballs at each other to try to disrupt their natural comic rhythm, with even funnier results.

And don’t think it’s all on them. Audience members not only have to give suggestions, but occasionally also get involved, like when two ordinary folks have to move the arms and legs for two crew members trying to engage in a silly conversation.

Now for the important part: last shows for this festival are Saturday and Sunday afternoons, Aug. 27-28. Info and tickets at indyfringefestival.com.