I admit that it was with some trepidation that I went to Finest City Improv. The location was a small theater on Louisiana Street just behind the Lafayette Hotel and its notorious Red Fox Room.
The waiting area/bar was populated by a homogeneous collection of overt actorish types. My spirits sank. I recognized the cast of Waiting for Guffman in all their hipster disguises.
I was wrong. The Guffman characters were illusional. This was an entertaining and intelligent group, full of humor, from groan-inducing dad jokes to cultural criticism disguised as satirical fun.
Whose Line is it Anyway brought improv to a mass audience in the late ‘90s and aughts, but the cast has faded into daytime television and the primetime hours have been conquered by zombies, dragons, and whatever is on Netflix. Yet improv lives on in at least one dive bar in San Diego.
The experience of being in a small room with a fully charged cast of about eight is infinitely better than “Netflix and chill.” Unless you know what Netflix and chill truly means. Come to think of it, there aren’t many shows which would make me skip Netflix and chill.
Still, there is no doubt that Finest City Improv is a better experience than watching improv on your phone or a TV. There was some audience participation, and I found myself wanting to participate. I’m not usually the participation type. While I didn’t manage to join in, I did manage to shout my favorite genre of music loud enough to be chosen when the audience was asked for a music choice.
Thank God the gangsta rap recommendation didn’t get chosen. Is there anything more cliché in improv than gangsta rap?
What was my suggestion? Opera.