Improv is freakin’ awesome. Let’s just put that out there right now.
It’s unscripted, usually hilarious, inexpensive entertainment that’s often accompanied by a cold PBR (stay classy, folks), a comfy theater, and great friends. It just doesn’t get much better.
In its prior incarnation, however, Atlanta’s Village Theatre was lacking two of those things. Due to no fault other than being in its infancy, VT was (apparently) holed away in a dank building in a somewhat shady neighborhood, with up-and-coming comedians toiling away to spread the joy of improv, with nary a spare dollar to to the theatre’s name, nor the elusive liquor license. No bueno.
Fast-forward to this month, when Village Theatre encountered a rebirth–much in the same way a full re-enactment of the birth process occurred onstage last night. The theatre is now smack in the middle of some great restaurants, including a new location of American Roadhouse, spitting distance from MLK MARTA station (but well-lit enough to stumble to and from while tipsy), at the Pencil Factory building cluster downtown.
They have an open and welcoming lobby, fitted with a bar and that oh-so-enviable liquor license. The tallboy PBRs are a reasonable 3 bucks, and the owners are on hand to offer a handshake or kind hello. A great intro to the new digs.
But the real star is the incredible space they’ve now got for the theatre itself. An un-intimidating black box makes a tidy, curtain-less stage, and cushioned folding chairs are raked up toward the sound booth. The area is both casual–encouraging the all-important audience-give-and-take–and sophisticated for a somewhat-startup theatre group. I was awed by the truly impressive sound system they’ve rigged up, especially after I was half-expecting to come in to a boom box hooked to a microphone, as you’d get at a regular little improv theatre. All in all, VT has done an incredible job in giving Dad’s Garage a run for its money as a heavy improv contender in Atlanta. Not an easy task.
The show itself was, of course, an incredible complement to the new space. The talented cast of up-and-comers (including–full disclosure–among others, my friend’s hilarious boyfriend and, incidentally, my former college newspaper editor) kicked out the jams all night long. They rocked long-form improv in the first act and short-form, drinking-fueled hilarity in the second act (“Asshole”).
All the performers were standouts in their own way, but none particularly shone as brightly as a drunken girl in the audience named Mary, who would. not. shut. up. And you know, people who never shut up also, annoyingly, never have anything interesting to say. (Example – Host: “What style should they do this scene in?” Mary: “Load the fucking dishes!”) So as all professional comedy actors do, the effervescent host took to making fun of Mary. And somehow, he did it in a way that made both her and the rest of us feel good about it. Like, I don’t think she woke up with a hangover this morning thinking, “Why the hell was I breathing Lamaze noises into a microphone last night?” Not bad, host man, not bad.
You’re going to love the new Village Theatre, whether it’s your first time ever seeing improv (pop that damn cherry already) or the VT cast basically knows you already and runs from you in the parking lot (calm it down, Mary). They have shows Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights starting at 8:30, and the official grand opening is next weekend. Tell ‘em Atlanta Onstage sent ya.
349 Decatur St, Suite L
Atlanta, GA 30312
Tickets range from $5-$10 depending on the night.