Hideout Improv Marathon

Going out like meteors: blazing

Hideout Improv Marathon
Photo courtesy of Peter Rogers

Going to an improv show at the crack of dawn on a Sunday is a tad surreal. Nowhere near as surreal, I'm sure, as performing improv then – especially when you've already been doing that for 38 hours straight – but still. First surprise: that once you're in the performance space, the Hideout Theatre at 7am feels a lot like the Hideout Theatre at 11pm. With the world screened out, the look of the stage and audience anticipation are the same as in an evening show. Second and bigger surprise: that eight improvisers who had been at it nonstop since before sunset Friday could be so sharp, focused, and riotously funny. Anyone at the finale of the Hideout's inaugural 40-Hour Improv Marathon to see a spectacular flameout by one or more of the sleep-deprived performers got a, well, rude awakening. What flames there were came from these improv pros being on fire: listening to one another as keenly as surveillance ops, consistently making clever choices that moved scenes in fresh directions, and keeping track of what had been created in earlier scenes, then calling back elements for comic effect. In hour 39, with guests McNichol and May, an offhand line about a spring break trip to Omaha sparked a whole series of scenes about the Nebraska metropolis: from a Grapes of Wrath-style family migration to Omaha, imagined as a biblical paradise with honey flowing from building tops, to a Brooklyn mob couple in the witness relocation program grousing about the city's cordiality. In that 50-minute succession of scenes, the players were as smooth, supportive of one another, ingenious, and hilarious as any improvisers I've seen in town. And that was just as true in the final hour. Even when the eight who had gone the distance – Kareem Badr, Kaci Beeler, Matt Pollock, Curtis Luciani, Jeremy Lamb, Andy Crouch, Troy Miller, and Caitlin Sweet – could see the finish line and punchiness occasionally overtook them, they remained in top form, playing off whatever happened – hearing a baby's cry in the audience during a scene in a space station, they made it a "space nursery" – and building a cohesive story of various threads that they pulled together in dazzling fashion. Like the meteors they referenced in this last spontaneous tale, the eight improvisers of this first marathon went out in a glorious blaze of light.

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 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 Arts Reviews
Zach Theatre's <i>Every Brilliant Thing</i>
Every Brilliant Thing
This production of Duncan Macmillan's solo show gives audiences a reason to live – make that a million reasons

Robert Faires, Feb. 14, 2020

"Mihee Nahm: Soaked"
In this solo exhibition, the artist invites us to take a walk with her down memory lane

Cat McCarrey, Feb. 14, 2020

More by Robert Faires
Austin's Rembrandt of Dog Portraits
Austin's Rembrandt of Dog Portraits
The Austin artist is an Old Master when it comes to custom pooch portraits

Feb. 14, 2020

Moontower Comedy 2020: Wave 3
Moontower Comedy 2020: Wave 3
Marlon Wayans, Chris Fleming, and more inked as headliners

Feb. 7, 2020

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Hideout 40-Hour Improv Marathon, Austin improv, Andy Crouch, Jeremy Lamb, Caitlin Sweet, Kareem Badr, Kaci Beeler, Curtis Luciani, Matt Pollock, Troy Miller, Erika May, Bob McNichol

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

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

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