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They Read The News Today, Oh Boy

PIT’s latest improv framework finds inspiration from tabloid fodder

By Kyle Riveral / Jester correspondent

The Jan. 17 performance of the People’s Improv Theater’s tabloid inspired improv show, “Headless Body in Topless Bar,” found the performers duly inspired by New York Post headlines, even with a smaller audience due to the holiday. The show did get the audience that was there involved, giving everyone a copy of the day’s paper to choose headlines from as suggestions for the performers.

Establishing a more relaxed and intimate setting, the improvisers started by announcing favorite headlines from the pile strewn across the table. “Crazed Dad Freaks Out” was quick to receive utterance from one of them. “Globe’s Bogus” arose from another (referencing the previous night’s Golden Globe awards covered in the paper), to which one responded “Maybe they just have a preference for maps.” The improvisers ran with the idea of characters having dire passion for maps as long as they could. Nearing the conclusion of these announcements the very same performer who praised the “Crazed Dad” headline again spoke out. “Here’s one I think we can all relate to: ‘Crazed Dad Freaks Out.’” Based on performers’ responses it wasn’t evident whether this reference was deliberate, though it seems he’d had to have had some sort of stroke to forget.

Once all was up and running, the framework of organized chaos that ensued consisted of tagging in and out at will. No props; just chairs. One such tag was centered around the concept of the crazed “cat lady,” wherein Oscar Montoya (wearing a Daffy Duck shirt, high-tops, and thick black-framed glasses, looking like he could be the fourth Beastie Boy circa their Paul’s Boutique album) leapt in as a cat and was immediately riled by rivaling cats, fighting for the cat lady’s gravy. He sprung upright with a hunched back, light swagger, and contorted arms that perfectly emulated the perturbed feline in an almost disturbing manner.

The tangential nature of such performances leads to some strange places. Adonis, a narcoleptic partner in discourse with a man looking to “change (his) shoes in for new shoes,” finds bizarrely homosexually-associated comfort in this subway small talk. A sweet country woman approaches with smiling awe a homeless person on the New York City streets. “How’d you become homeless?” She adds a naively emphatic “I always like to ask.” Tying into the aforementioned globe pun, two ostensibly Italian men speaking with what seemed to be bad Puerto Rican accents played the role of Galileo and his father. The intensity was daytime TV-worthy. “The earth is not round; it’s flat and square.” “I think we flattened that out a long time ago.” “Okay, father, the earth is not a circle because of science, but because of her beautiful titties!” “Then it would be two circles.”

In the latter part of the performance, the map references returned, as another presumably Italian character, but with a Puerto Rican accent, exhibits raging carnal desires for maps. His father, in an attempt to break him of his unnatural obsession, hounds him to cop a feel of a woman’s bosom. In such a situation he inadvertently addresses the woman as Tunisia, but slyly masks it by saying “No, I said Tanisha. Your name is Tanisha, right?” And finally, tying all of these scenes together in true long-form improv style, Adonis, the random passerby on the subway, at the close of the show replaces Galileo as the head Chippendales’ existential stripper.

“Headless Body in Topless Bar” runs again at The PIT on Monday, Jan. 24.

   

     

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