Voted the Best Local Performing Arts Troupe by readers of the East Valley Tribune in 2011, National Comedy Theatre’s ensemble of players concocts improvised situations at lightning-fast speeds, relying on audience participation and their own wits to elicit thunderous laughter and applause. After turning to their all-ages crowd for assistance in shaping games and scenarios, the cast employs knowledge gleaned from operating-room sketches to tickle ribs with anatomical exactitude. The show often favors spontaneity over prudence, with performers gleefully stepping into their roles as acrophobic skydiving champions or long-winded court stenographers. Audience members get to select the winning team at the conclusion of the show, and can learn the form themselves during improv classes.
Like a young pilgrim climbing a mountain to seek the wisdom of a wizened sage, Dave Thurston made a trek many years ago to the heart of improv comedy: Chicago. There, he studied with Second City, the Annoyance Theatre, and iO, and met such comedic greats as Tim Meadows, Martin Short, and Catherine O'Hara. Now, returned from this metaphorical mountaintop, Dave produces more than 250 shows a year at his network of Outliars Comedy Clubs, and shares his more than 14 years of experience with classes of hopeful improvisers.
The first Improv comedy club had virtually nothing to do with comedy. Broadway producer Budd Friedman founded the now legendary franchise in 1963 as an intimate spot where performers could eat, drink coffee, and sing along to piano ditties after their shows. Soon after, the club's first comedian, Dave Astor, tried out some new material on a whim. The stand-up set was a hit and led to the venue's eventual transformation into a full-blown comedy club. New York's hottest comedians would do nearly anything to be featured on the Improv stage; for instance, it's rumored that Lily Tomlin hijacked a parked limousine in order to make a stunning entrance when first meeting Budd.
Since 1988, Tempe Improv has lived up to the lofty reputation of its parent club by showcasing comedic heavyweights such as Kevin Nealon, Carlos Mencia, and Pablo Francisco. A diverse calendar draws instantly recognizable comics from the airwaves of the E! channel and Comedy Central, but it also opens up the stage to promising up-and-comers. A menu of bar food and drinks ensures audiences stay fueled and ready to laugh throughout the evening.
The rule of three is more than a spooky truth about celebrity deaths—it's also the body of law that governs comedic extemporaneity. In accordance with this rule, you'll laugh harder and be more attractive if you tell three, six, nine, and other multiples of three friends about today's deal to Jester'Z Improv Comedy Troupe. For $5, you get a ticket to see Jester'Z sidesplitting improvised comedy show on Friday or Saturday nights at 10 p.m.—that's less than the cost of a comedy movie, hardbound comedy book, or admission to the comedy museum in Cedar Falls. To avoid this common improv pitfall, print out this handy list of suggestions by clicking Print, located under the File menu in most browsers.
Every weekend, nationally touring comedians step up to the brick wall at The Comedy Spot Comedy Club to deliver their sets. The performance area allows viewers to get table seating right up to the edge of the stage or hang back in the booths to admire photos of nostalgic comedic icons. While watching, audiences can take in New York– and Chicago–inspired sandwiches and pizzas from the menu. Those looking to hone their own rib-tickling skills can enroll in improv classes or take the stage for a five-minute set during open mic nights. The club’s website even offers fledgling comics tips, such as a dress code, following the light, and checking each patron’s bag for tomatoes.