Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Improv Comedy Show Worth Venturing out For

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Improv Comedy Show Worth Venturing out For

Article excerpt

Byline: Susan Stanton, Shorelines columnist

Among the least likely things I thought I would be writing about in this column is a wonderful improvisational comedy troupe that performs at the beach.

But life has a way of surprising you.

Improv Jacksonville offers almost non-stop shenanigans at The Atlantic in Jacksonville Beach every Monday night. The 2-year old group is made up of people from many walks of life -- there's an ad agency vice president, a television producer and a construction worker, to name only a few of the 10 members.

Scott Abrams, Improv Jacksonville director, said some of the members were "drafted" from comedy workshops the troupe offers to the public. A few current troupe members hope someday to quit their "day jobs" to be funny full time. This isn't unrealistic, as it turns out. One troupe alumnus now is a member of The Groundlings in Los Angeles, Abrams said. The troupe gets paid not only for public performances but for corporate shows and seminars and for workshops for at-risk youth.

When a friend told me about Improv Jacksonville and I read a story about it in the newspaper the same week, I took it as a sign I should go and talked another friend into accompanying me the following Monday.

I had mixed feelings, though. In the past, I have been disappointed by the lack of support for local theatrical performances. With improvisational comedy, it's important to have a good crowd, and I thought this evening could be another addition to the list of disappointments, when too few people showed up.

But hey, it was free. (They now charge a $3 cover.)

I also had lowered my expectations intentionally because I didn't think it was fair to compare them to what I had been a part of in New York in the mid-1960s, when I had the great good fortune to be a "regular" at the now legendary Improv comedy club.

Back then I had the privilege of hearing up-and-coming comedians such as Richard Pryor and Rodney Dangerfield try out new material and watching comedy veterans such as Art Carney take the stage. …

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