Fallout Theater Says Fuck This Week
The improv alchemists of this weekly show turn the crap in your life into comedy gold
Reviewed by M. Brianna Stallings, Fri., Aug. 31, 2018
"Middle fingers up, put them hands high/ Wave it in his face, tell him, 'Boy, bye!'"
– Beyoncé, "Sorry"
Your kid chipped three teeth at school. Your pet shredded a grant proposal you'd been writing for months. Your car sounds like a dying yak. You could relax by taking a daylong nap, by getting baked and watching Office Space, or by venturing out on a Monday night to talk about the shit hand that life dealt you, in the hopes that a group of funny strangers can turn your crap into comedy gold.
Enter Fuck This Week, an improv show that says "Piss off!" to the week every Monday at Fallout Theater. Fallout knows something about laughing in the midst of soul-crushing BS. Once part of the burgeoning New Movement comedy franchise based in ATX and NOLA, the club waded through a swampy mire of sexual misconduct allegations that led to closures, resignations, and new management – a scandal serious enough to merit coverage in Vulture and on Splitsider – before emerging, newly named, fiercer, and funnier than ever. (See our own Wayne Alan Brenner's feature on the Fallout.)
After a winter full of traumatic loss and subzero temperatures while earning an MFA in New England, I drove cross-country to start my life in Austin. Months of strikeout job interviews later, I'm still temping. Few things appeal to me more right now than a night of comedy. Plus, I love the idea of ending the first day of the business week with lolz at life, work, and The Man. Not all folks share that view, though. "I don't understand why this is on a Monday," wrote one Facebook commenter. "Wouldn't it make more sense on a Friday or Saturday since the week just ended?" It might, but catharsis doesn't have to be logical. It has to make us feel better. And boy howdy, did Fuck This Week fit the bill.
Once I made it inside the converted fallout shelter (hence the name), I learned that evening's show was sold out. (Word to the wise: Reserve your ticket in advance for $5, plus fees, via Eventbrite.) Fortunately, the box office had a press ticket held for me. So I navigated through a sea of millennial Austinites and a smattering of boomers clutching sweaty cups of mixed drinks or cans of Lone Star, the PBR of the TX hipster (booze courtesy of full bar service from Party Pulse). On the wall behind the bartender hung a banner reading "Fallout Theater" in loopy psychedelic Sixties font, and two arcade games sat nestled in a nearby corner. Buzzcocks and New Order blasted through the speakers as a staff member rang a boxing bell to signify showtime, before herding us all into the intimate staging area. I recorded the whole thing like a customer service request into a call center helpline, then did what every good journalist should: I sat in a dark corner alone with no one seated next to me.
The premise of Fuck This Week is simple: Cast members ask audience members for stories of terrible things that happened to them, then use those events as a springboard for improv scenes. Normally, nine performers act these out, but on the night I went, the cast was only five: Yamina Khouane, Carlos LaRotta (also a member of the Fallout Governing Board), Chris McKeever, Frank Netscher, and Mason Pitluk (Fallout's artistic director). Off that night were Mia Iseman, Maria Pond, Chadwick Smith, and Alex Walker.
They may have been down by almost half of their team, but that didn't stop these improvisers from putting on a fantastic hourlong show. Three women shared stories: of cross-country trips to buy already-sold cars, of relentless Yelp commenters and bosses who still refuse to own computers in 2018, and of entrapment in yearlong leases on shithole apartments with exorbitant pet fees. Before each scene, the audience was instructed to raise either glasses or middle fingers high and shout "Fuck this week!" to the rafters. Performers moved like tag-team wrestlers on and off the stage, sending each scene into a spiral of hilarious absurdities. Highlights: apartments haunted by the ghosts of orphans, running gags of finger mustaches and the word(s) "peccadilloes" and/or "picadillo," a car-kidnapping bird, and an epic showdown between "Ground Police" and "Sky Police."
Simply put, Fuck This Week is totally fucking worth it; queue up the Bangles and transform your Manic Monday into a Funday ASAP.
p.s. Remember how I mentioned that I recorded the performance for journalistic purposes? There was so much distortion on the resulting MP3 that it was completely unusable.
Yeah, seriously ... fuck this week.
Fuck This Week: A Comedic Exploration of Your Shit-Ass Week is performed Mondays, 8pm, at Fallout Theater, 616 Lavaca. For more information, call 616/676-7209 or visit www.fallouttheater.com.
A special Out of Bounds Comedy Festival performance will take place Friday, Aug. 31, 10pm, at the Hideout Theatre upstairs, 617 Congress. For more information, visit www.oobfest.com.