Comedy, America! at ImprovBoston – 4 Stars
by Johnny Monsarrat
Going out but don’t know what to do? ImprovBoston is a reliable destination and recently they allowed me to review Comedy, America! Although the show’s run is now over, it plays every July 4th week at ImprovBoston. And my experience was typical of what you’ll find at the venue.
Although most shows at ImprovBoston are improvisational, Comedy, America is a scripted sketch show that avoids political topics. It’s a “Strange Things Americans Do” show rather than a political satire. I loved the show.
I have a sad confession to make, which is that I don’t laugh that easily. Instead of relaxing into a performance, my mind is racing, guessing what’s coming up and analyzing the show. Also, I attended Comedy, America without a friend in tow, didn’t drink alcohol, and was tired. So I was basically the worst audience member, yet I laughed out loud through a third half the acts, both “oh here it comes” laughter but also explosive “WTF?” laughter. That is a strong recommendation. But some acts didn’t hit. The cast didn’t take any volunteers from or interact much with the audience.
Still several sketches were great. I loved the IHOP sketch. I personally have had gotten food poisoning from an IHOP, with the worst pain of my life for hours. And yet I still go there. We all do. They gave a nod to the quirky personality of Bostonian when Red Sox fans attended the Brazil Olympics in one sketch.
In another sketch, they mimicked the success of the Broadway musical, Hamilton, but substituting former US President Howard Taft. My favorite was a show about introverts that was ultimately uplifting. Everyone’s a winner. Except those who lose.
With a rehearsed show, the cast has time to concentrate on physical comedy, and the show held plenty of that as well. Kudos to the emcee with the tie, who to me was the weirdest and funniest. I was just never sure what he would do next. There was no “telegraphing” what was coming.
As if that weren’t enough, the sketches alternated with live performances from Off Ramp, a small band whose tune “DTF” (google it) I found myself humming three days later. The band struck a chord (ahem) not just with their engaging lyrics but their straight faced performance. The lead vocalist was convincing in really wanting DTF. The percussionist kept a masterful straight face throughout the strident song satire of Water Country, the water theme park with repetitive but somehow hard to hate TV advertisements. After the show I got to see the gadget he was sitting on and slapping with his hands, a cajón. That is basically a box with a hole that you pay $1,000 for so you can hit it like a bongo drum.
The show has an intermission to sell booze. ImprovBoston serves alcohol and snacks, none of them healthy. They must lack a food license, or perhaps guests just don’t come expecting dinner. I think people would be more likely to stay for two shows if they served a real meal. As appropriate to a comedy club late on a Saturday night, the show was too vulgar for small kids, but not cruelly so. Saturday at 4pm they have a family friendly show. The venue is fun and conversational. Unlike a theatre show or movie show where you need to take a seat and shut up in the darkness (so what’s the point of bringing a friend? you might as well be alone) at ImprovBoston they keep the lights on and you can make a quiet comment and interact with the person you come with throughout a performance. I like that.
I am glad to give Comedy, America a 4 stars out of 5, an impressive show worth seeing if not the best I have seen at ImprovBoston. Make sure to catch their upcoming shows like MBTA the Musical and the Mainstage. One last note, the schedule is sort of weekly but they also have one-shot performances… this gets confusing and is not clearly laid out in a calendar on their website. This has been a problem at ImprovBoston for years. On the other hand, I’ve come to trust the venue enough that I don’t even need to know what is playing. I just show up and know I’ll have a good time.
See Comedy, America and other ImprovBoston shows at www.ImprovBoston.com.