Serious humor

In case you’ve never read my blog, I’m just a bit of a comedy fan – specifically, improv comedy.  I’m happy to say that, of late, there’s been more chances to enjoy some funny stuff around Richmond…

Most recently, we had the premiere of Sketchprov LIVE, a sketch/improv hybrid that’s playing shows at both the Firehouse and Richmond Triangle.   Overall, the show deserves a chance – and I hope you give it one at RTP on Oct. 12, 13, 19, or 20.  But I do have some concerns… while the performers were solid, the writing was a bit uneven.  I guess that’s a risk of any sketch show (you have watched SNL in the last couple decades, right?), but it’s tougher, I think, on a new troupe.  You have to make an immediate impact – and an uneven show might make the wrong one.  That said, what I found uneven you might find 100% hysterical, so really, if you’re curious, go see the show yourself – your mileage almost certainly will vary.

My bigger concern is the same that I’ve had for other sketch groups in the past – with sufficient time, it’s relatively straightforward to write, cast, produce, block, and rehearse the first show.  Given that the cast are also the writers, and that the cast have real lives, it’s going to be tougher to write, cast, produce, block, and rehearse the second show.  A sketch troupe can’t live on one show – you have to refresh sketches, write new ones, and keep the show fresh.  That’s tough enough for SNL, with a dedicated writing staff and all 168 hours of the week before a show available to it.  I worry that with far less than 168 hours in their weeks, plus the time pressure of actually doing the current show, there may not be time to keep the show fresh.  And even with about a third of the show being improv, it’s tough to get people to come back for a show they’ve seen – for the most part – before.

If Sketchprov can figure out the writing side, there’s a good chance this could be a long-running series.  Check it out if you get the chance… and if you’re more of a late-night type, there’ll be late shows on Hallowe’en weekend at the Firehouse (Oct. 29-30 at 11:00 pm).

But that’s not all that’s going on…

The Modlin Center at the University of Richmond has two comedy events next week.  David Sedaris plays “Modlin at the Landmark” on Tuesday (7:30 pm), and the Reduced Shakespeare Company’s “Complete World of Sports (Abridged)” appears at the Modlin on Wednesday/Thursday (7:30 pm both nights).

There’s a benefit show for artspace next Friday at Plant Zero (Oct. 8, 8:00 pm) featuring a gaggle of Richmond standups.

Paradox Comedy is (I think) taking a couple of weeks off, but will be back in mid-October.  Although you never quite know with the Paradox… Smile

Open Mike nights continue around town, most notably the Monday night events at Café Diem, alternating Mondays with the next show on October 11.

The Richmond Comedy Coalition is into another season at Gallery 5 – their next show is the annual improvised horror movie on October 29.  After that, it’s the 2nd Friday (for “Richmond Famous”, improv based on monologues from well-known Richmonders) and 3rd Thursday (for their monthly improv/sketch/standup/whatever shows) of each month.

There’s also a standup/improv hybrid project in the works to replace the on-hiatus Random Acts shows at HATTheatre… it’s not quite public yet, so I’ll hold back on scooping their announcement – unless they wait too long. Smile

And, of course, there’s always the national standup acts at the Funny Bone at Short Pump.  And I guess you could even list Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain this Saturday at CenterStage.

The only negative is that the Richmond Improv Festival didn’t make it back for 2010 – I’m not surprised, as the 2009 event got mauled by the economy… I hope it can return in 2011.

I guess the point is this: unless you are bound and determined to not find it, there’s live comedy in Richmond.  Support it.  Otherwise, it won’t be there when you need it.    And you know full well that everyone needs a good laugh now and again…

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Author: Rob Hoffmann

Occasional blogger, full-time computer techie, radio producer (basketball, mostly), generally nice person (if you ask me).

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