Look Cookie: Mutatis mutandis
New and rough-edged as the improv troupe Look Cookie is, it's still worthwhile watching them do their thing
I almost wish I hadn't been told that Look Cookie was such a new troupe, that they'd only recently graduated from the ColdTowne School for Gifted Improvisers. Because then I could be sure that what I was perceiving of Look Cookie's recent gig in the Threefer show at the Hideout ... well, then I could fully trust my own judgment and feel replete with savvy and acumen as to what improv is and how it works or doesn't work and how you can tell when a troupe is composed of people who haven't played together, improvising, for long.
But I had been preinformed. And so it made perfect sense that Bryan Roberts, Jerry Bilbo, Ryan Harrison, Cody Dearing, Leah Moss, and Michael Williams weren't as smooth in their operations as you'd expect a more practiced group to be. They've yet to fully embrace, as a team, the give-and-take that allows improv gambits to burgeon into viable sketches and for those sketches to then braid into a coherent (more or less) narrative tapestry. At least, it seemed that way the night I experienced them gamely wrestling with suggestions of "Jell-O," "axe murderer," and "hat." Still, it was worthwhile watching Look Cookie do their thing, because 1) they're talented and enthusiastic performers individually, 2) they have a solid grasp of the possibilities of humor, and 3) they've been coached by improv veterans and thus are definitely on the way toward eventual mastery of the form.
And that's another reason why it's a good idea to see what they have to offer: a glimpse at the beginnery part of the improv spectrum. Not of the spectrum of ultimate quality -- where the depths of suckitude are represented by troupes that I, for one, won't waste ink on mentioning and the heights of sudden-theatre goodness are exemplified by, oh, the Available Cupholders, say, or Get Up or (in their quieter way) the Frank Mills -- but of the evolutionary spectrum, where a troupe like Look Cookie can hone its natural abilities over time, ditching what doesn't work, amplifying what does, and over time growing into an event that you might hock your copy of X-Men No. 167 for a ticket to. If you'd bought (and saved) that issue way back when, you'd be better off today; seeing Look Cookie while they're still newbies is, we think, a similarly good idea.