Issue 9 Contents


ImprovBoston: Theater Sports

Our friend Mr. Counts has been performing at Improv Boston (Inman Square, Cambridge) for at least two years and we've been woefully remiss in failing to attend. I phoned him up around six on Friday. As usual, he was overworked and had little time.

"Are you performing tonight?" I asked hastily.

"Eight and ten. Why? Are you coming?" he asked suspiciously. He has a right to be suspicious. Our past history indicates the answer is "No" and I'm not going to promise anything I can't live up to.

"I have to wait until Mike gets home," I told him.

When Mike gets home I tell him we really must attend the show. He is amenable! I dial up the net ( to get directions and precise showtimes. "It says 8:00 and 10:30 shows."

"We ain't making the 8:00," Mike assures me.

I print out directions to the theater and a couple of extra Cambridge maps in case we run into trouble. Good thing I did as the directions from 95 Northbound were decidedly lacking.

Take exit to route 28 South (Somerville). After you pass the Museum of Science, take the left hand road, Cambridge Street. Continue on Cambridge Street through Prospect Street, the theater is on the right hand side.

It's exit 29, by the way, and the "left hand road after you pass the Museum of Science" is an onramp to 95 South. Since we weren't quite ready to go home, we had to find our way to Inman Square by using the force.

The force paid in spades and we found Inman Square. We were about an hour early and I fretted that Counts said 10:00 while the web said 10:30. "I hope Counts doesn't do some 1/2 standup show we don't know about at 10:00."

Mike told me not to worry and we grabbed a snack at the corner pizza place. When we entered the theater and dropped $24 on tickets, I noticed it was smaller than I had imagined, but cute. As I browsed the photos of Improv Groups, I couldn't seem to find Counts. Unphased, Michael and I took our seats. We parked ourselves in front of "backstage" and overheard some of the pre-game preparations made by the Theater Sports performers. There was chanting, yelling, and what can only be described as semi-disturbing cult-type prayers for success.

"I'm worried about him," I told Mike.

He gave me the same smile he delivers with the "I have the biggest penis in the room" line he's currently got in heavy rotation.

As the players arrived complete with audience hand-slaps and ducky enthusiasm, I saw not Counts! That is not Counts! Either is that! I glanced at Mike with the "I f*cked up I guess" look and sat back as despair overwelmed me. Meanwhile, the players are cutting it up on stage and some of it is funny, but I'm missing it because I'm shell-shocked.

"I don't know if I can watch if he's not here," I tell Mike.

Mike knows HE didn't screw up, so he's content to watch the show. I sit back, knowing I have no choice but to do the same. I try to forget my Waterloo and focus on getting entertained. It's not bad! Improv is challenging and I can immediately tell why Counts comes back week after week. There isn't anything else like improv. The pressure of being spontaneously funny is huge, but the payoffs of success are clear in the shining eyes of those who are "on" this night.

Theater Sports pits two teams of 4 improvisarios against one another and invites the audience to help select the games, eliminate bad players, and judge the winner. It's an important component of the entertainment: audience members get the opportunity to improvise as well. These players are bright and quick and talented. If you've seen and enjoyed "Whose Line is it Anyway?" you should hit Improv Boston as soon as possible.

Note to Counts: If you've gained weight and become a strawberry blond, your performance was excellent.