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.

IndyFringe: Harrison!

By Wendy Carson

Hip-hop musicals are all the rage currently. However, acquiring tickets to them is nearly impossible. Currently, you have the chance to see a hilarious improv version of one dripping in Hoosier history.

When you get your ticket you are given a slip of paper prompting you to list a book, musical, TV show, movie, or fairy tale. These suggestions are put in a hat and one is given to each actor prior to the show. They use these as touchstones for their individual characters’ dialogue and motivations during the show. As an example, the actor portraying William Henry Harrison – the general-turned-President of the title – was given “Cinderella” and his “Bobbity Boo-ing” of others during the show was very inflammatory.

Expect dance battles, rap battles, and some twisted historical events intertwining to some epic beats. While the show is ever-changing and never too serious, the final song echoes a strong truth that should be noted: “History forgets, but Death remembers!”

Performances are Saturday and Sunday afternoons, Aug. 27 and 28 at the Indyfringe Basile Theatre. Get info and tickets at indyfringefestival.com.

 

Fringe review: Up Yours

By Wendy Carson

In “Up Yours, Indianapolis,” by The Fleece Academy at the Marrott Center, Muppet-style puppetry and improv comedy are blended together in an uneven mix.

The group’s members are all talented puppeteers, and the various interactions with the crowd before the show were entertaining. However, their long-form improv skills are not as well-honed.

Various parts of the show were downright hilarious, but overall it felt a bit weak. I think if they had just presented us with crowd interaction and a few skits, it would have been a more enjoyable show. Also, the sound quality of the space made it difficult for the back portion of the audience to hear much of the performance.

While I was disappointed in this show, I do feel that with a bit more polish this could be one of the hits of a future Fringe festival.