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.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Parallelogramophonograph
Oh, the Places You'll Go!
Oh, the Places You'll Go!
How Parallelogramophonograph survived Scotland and became a better improv troupe

Robert Faires, Dec. 30, 2011

Edinburgh Festivals
Edinburgh Festivals
The Hidden Room, Palindrome, and PGraph prepare to join the Fringe element

Robert Faires, July 29, 2011

More Austin improv
Improviser Shannon Stott Brings Some <i>Lord of the Rings</i> to Out of Bounds
Improviser Shannon Stott Brings Some Lord of the Rings to Out of Bounds
The Gandalf of improv is all over the comedy festival

Robert Faires, Aug. 23, 2019

<i>Immigrants, The Musical! (Part Two)</i>
Immigrants, the Musical! (Part Two)
With this improvised musical series, one family's tale of coming to the states becomes a tale about us all

Robert Faires, Nov. 23, 2018

More by Wayne Alan Brenner
Zoup! Is More Than Just Good Food
Zoup! Is More Than Just Good Food
Some new broths bringing a bright array of taste

June 1, 2020

Yuyo Closes Permanently
Yuyo Closes Permanently
Time to bid a sad chau to Maribel Rivero’s Peruvian restaurant

May 29, 2020

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Parallelogramophonograph, Austin improv, Roy Janik, Kaci Beeler, Kareem Badr, Valerie Ward

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle