Parallelogramophonograph: Supercalifragilisticexpiali motherfuckingdocious

When Parallelogramophonograph does improv, it's like watching hyperintelligent, human-shaped, joyously goofy otters at play

Top-bottom: Kaci Beeler, Kareem Badr, Roy Janik, Valerie Ward
Top-bottom: Kaci Beeler, Kareem Badr, Roy Janik, Valerie Ward

Parallelogramophonograph: Now there's you a tongue-tangling mouthful of a name. It's appropriate, as this seasoned troupe of performers -- Roy Janik, Kaci Beeler, Kareem Badr, and Valerie Ward -- can likewise overflow the biggest stage with their manic and often inspired improvisation. We caught them as part of the Hideout's Threefer show on a recent Friday, and we were even luckier than usual. We were luckier because we like things that blaze and burn, and this was a gig during which Janik was on fire.

All the players were at the top of their games, deftly working one another's rapid-fire tangents into an approximately coherent story via plenty of laugh-inducing scenes. The audience suggestion they exploded from was "building a doghouse," and it led to vignettes involving a pair of identical twins building an anti-chihuahua fence, a man unhappily bearing the burden of his late father's hardware store, a municipal bus being chased by very fast cows, and so on, with all of it adding to the highest of jinks. But Janik, hell, the man was dropping cracked gems of humor as if he'd been possessed by the ghost of Ernie Kovacs, turning the others into straight men (or women) for his barbs and volleys. But he wasn't doing this in a glory-grabbing way, please note, not with the slightest bit of hey-look-at-me-I'm-fuckin'-wacky belligerence. It was merely that events conspired to offer him opportunities again and again, and he capitalized on every one of them.

Janik: What're you building?

Badr: A doghouse. Well, more like a rat house.

Janik: What is it? Dogs or rats?

Badr: Chihuahuas.

Janik: Oh -- both.

We've seen P-graph in action a few times, observed them wreaking new and different improv formats, and they've always been bright and inventive, always seemed like it's a good thing they're talented, because, otherwise, they'd be having more fun than the audience. Because, the point is, you can tell they're having so much fun themselves. It's like ... like watching otters at play onstage, actually: hyperintelligent, human-shaped, joyously goofy otters. In a world without Ritalin and where Jon Stewart is the U.S. president. Yeah, it's like that.


Parallelogramophonograph performs Thursdays, 8pm, at ColdTowne Theater, 4803 Airport. The group also performs with the Frank Mills Friday, Aug. 17, 10pm, at the Hideout, 617 Congress. For more information, visit www.pgraph.com.

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