Outliars Comedy Club thrives on honest improv

“Procreation equals desecration.”

If the audience learned one thing at the Outliars Comedy Club show on Friday, this was it.

A full 90 minutes of knee-slapping good fun, the improv show combined wit, shock value and brutal honesty that delighted a sold out, rosy-faced Gilbert audience at DownUnder Wines and Bistro.

The comedians warmed up with a round of “Whose Line is it Anyway?”-inspired games, including one in which audience members probed the actors for answers to life’s most meaningful questions.

Three comedians each took on a different persona: a nutty mother of five from Minnesota, a flamboyant movie maniac who answered all questions in terms of situations found in cinema and a corrupt and bitter politician with a lisp who ran for president and, not surprisingly, lost.

The audience favorite was the almost-president who enlightened the crowd with insightful words, sending them at points into un-shushable laughing spells. In response to a woman’s inquiry about putting her kids through college, he answered, “Don’t. Just don’t have kids. Procreation equals desecration,” and the hit phrase became a recurring element in the rest of the show.

The Outliars, who perform in Tempe on Mill Avenue every Thursday, know the secret to keeping the audience’s attention: Make them feel involved, and their attention span triples. The crowd got an especially large kick out of the Mystery Party Guest game. The host of the gathering had to guess who her party guests were as they entered the scene one at a time. The wine at only $6 a glass, bubbly audience members chose a fountain, a Ouija board and Hillary Clinton as the eclectic mix of attendees. Clinton walked in announcing there better not be interns at the party and that she was practically getting a blood clot from them, prompting a guttural roar of laughter.

The answer to the Outliars’ success in hilarity may come from its teacher, Dave Thurston, an alumni of The Second City in Chicago, who hosted the improv show. The popular comedy theater has popped out comedic geniuses like Steve Carell, Tina Fey and Mike Meyers and is known for supplying Saturday Night Live with a hefty load of funny men and women.

But the troupe’s innate talent is hard to overlook. With a diverse group of individuals bouncing ideas off each other, the Outliars have a unique advantage in that a range of ages provides depth to their comedy.

Urban studies junior Rachel Cepeda and Spanish senior Alisha Ratan added a youthful punch line to the group. Ratan, who has been with Outliars for a year now, still feels the pressure when she doesn’t get a laugh.

“You’re like, ‘Oh God, I’m not funny.’ But with improv, if you’re just honest, that’s when I feel like it’s the most comfortable and funny,” she said.

Near the end of the show, both the cast and crowd were in sync, feeding off the relaxed vibe in the room. The honesty was flowing.

The Dating Game took one male audience member’s turn-ons, turn-offs, hobbies and dating prerequisites and turned it into a game show-style search for his perfect girl.

Taking the college student’s likes, dislikes and personality to the extreme without being deprecating, the cast in this particular game received the most genuine laughs of the night. People like knowing their (sometimes) mundane lives are interesting, and the comedy troupe used this to its advantage.

Highlights of the show included a scene in a tearoom at Balboa Park in San Diego where Rocky make a clever appearance. Another was an incident involving a man who preferred his women “Elmer’s Glue white” the tan girlfriend was too much to handle.

The show couldn’t have come to close at a better moment with a reprisal of the shady politician making an appearance in a fifth grade classroom. Asked to say a few words, he could hardly spit out the beginning of his slogan before the audience rose for a standing ovation.

Who knew politics could be so cheeky.

 

Reach the reporter at lily.lieberman@asu.edu