Review: Asylum Improv
Pacifica Spindrift Players
I cannot imagine a more challenging social situation than trying to be improvisationally funny. Telling memorized jokes is easy. Reading a comedic script is a snap. Doing a stand-up routine that has been rehearsed and choreographed is a piece of cake compared to what the Asylum Improv does several times a year at the Spindrift Players in Pacifica, California.
It’s because of this that we don’t expect the actors of Asylum, lead by the very brave Roger Genereux, to be as funny as Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie, who are comedic geniuses, but they’re already funnier than Drew Carey.
It’s perhaps fortunate for the cast of Asylum that the audience consists primarily of the family and friends, and some die-hard community members, so we aren’t as critical as we could be. Asylum really does try hard to be funny, and one often gets the feeling that they are trying too hard. Sometimes desperately hard, which is evident when the look on an actor’s face plainly says, “Will somebody Please end this scene?” Which is echoed by Roger’s expression which says just as plainly, “Will somebody Please say something funny?”
There are, however, gems which make waiting through the embarrassing moments worthwhile. We especially liked the efforts of Steve Mattes, Kevin Myer and Lourie (whose last name I couldn’t find, but he’s the bloke with the almost-Irish brogue, softened, I think, by his years in the States). Lourie can always be counted on for a funny routine involving the alphabet and/or the English language. Tricia Callero once again wow’d us with her superb vocal skills. We can’t help but think that if the entertainment industry really was a meritocracy, she’d already be head-lining.
The presentation could be improved if Roger could just relax a little. We think he’s very smart and talented, but he often comes across as if he believes his entire worth as a human being is riding on the success or failure of the show. And considering the amount of work he invests at Spindrift, we can’t blame him for feeling that. But Roger: We are going to like you anyway. You have already proven yourself. So relax. Also, if you can’t read one of those audience suggestion slips, you should just toss it. There is no entertainment value in watching you try to decipher somebody’s scribble. And we know that it’s supposed to be improv, but perhaps a little more structure would help lubricate the show.
And we will be there when you return in March!