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.

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.