Over the weekend: This week's Improv Star offers outer-space hand-puppets, Brylcreem
The Denver's Next Improv Star series at the Bovine Metropolis has themes, it seems, and its clearest and strongest are enthusiasm -- copious amounts of it -- and a nonsensicality so relentless it's damn near absolute. The show's third installment on Saturday, which began with a skit that managed to simultaneously recall an old-style Western, allude to the story of King Solomon and endorse Brylcreem and ended with a whittled Pez dispenser and nobody losing, was glutted with both.
This week's guest judge was Paul Rohrer, a radio-show host, and the initial challenge was inspired by classic American radio: Actors could not perform except through dialogue and storytelling. The first of the two groups was instructed to stage a Western endorsing, somehow, the aforementioned '50s hair product. The resulting sketch began like a bad joke: A woman walked into a bar, looking for "something special." Not one to deny a lady her wish, the bartender prepared "something special" (a cocktail, as it turned out) and served it to her. The woman drank, was merry -- to the dismay/fury of her boyfriend, a local rabble-rouser and apparently an ardent supporter of monogamy in the world of cocktail-mixing. Threats were made. Rabbles were roused. In the end, the offending woman was chainsawed in half so she could appease not one but both of the men in her life. With her dying breath, she praised Brylcreem, cursed her unruly hair.
The first group swept off stage and the second shuffled on. They were given nearly the same challenge, but their scene would be sci-fi, they were told, and they would advertise the recently and tragically obsolete Polaroid. Subsequently a starry-eyed young lad named Timmy fell prey to two malevolent hand puppets from outer space. They instructed him in the art of investment, which, as it turns out, is just about as corrupting and all-consuming as a meth habit; by morning, Timmy had decided to hold up a bank, an endeavor that led, eventually, to the shooting of his mother. Stricken with grief, Timmy overcame his addiction. A bystander appropriated the extraterrestrial puppets. The whole event, it was revealed, had been documented on Polaroid.
The second act was designed to be an exercise in character interaction set in an audience-suggested location, the woods. What followed was a glorious mess of overwhelming nonsense -- most notably, a hermit-recluse who whittles a Pez dispenser from a piece of bark, a woman's struggle to choose between her yuppie boyfriend and a woodsmany thicket-dweller, and the antics of an assortment of lost campers.
By the time the night came to a close, the judges had been so thoroughly impressed they decided that none of the thirteen remaining competitors would be eliminated. Kat Bond, who played Timmy, a cop, and a number of spectators intermittently in the first act and a confused camper in the second, was named winner.
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