You know why Sid Viscous! is bad ass? It’s not because this Big Apple improv group knows how to pepper their shows with truly inspired bits — a bit centered around a squeaky board, discussions about the sex lives of sea urchins, and the funniest line I’ve heard in ages (but which you’d really have to be there to appreciate), “I wish I could eat your genius with rice” — it’s that they know how to handle the drunken, no-class, designer-wear hillbillies in the audience, the ones who are not content with offering a single suggestion to kick off the show but insist on barking orders throughout the show, as if this improv troupe was some high-priced prostitute and the rednecks were a very needy, very specific john. First they joke about all of this needless yammering by treating it as if it was coming over the intercom. And two, during a bit in which an improver hears voices in his head — the voices of the slobbering knuckledraggers — a fellow member of Sid calls the very vocal pair for what they likely are, “Those voices in your head are drunks.” Sweet.
The other two acts sharing the bill with Sid at Stars at the American Theater on Friday night were Horse & House and Rockola. Both acts, which joined Vicous in what was billed as an Improv Marathon, were quite a joy to watch as well.
Washington D.C.’s Horse & House is four-man group, and they made the inspired decision to begin their routine in an elevator. The bit ultimately went a little flat, but the guys kept searching for new comedy veins to plunder. And they found them in bits about the death of Scooby Doo, a mom and dad who give their son a hostage for his birthday, and an onstage reenactment of Frogger. Great stuff.
Rockola is a three person team, with two guys and a girl, and they apparently use musical selections to get them started on a bit instead of a one-word suggestion from the audience. It was a bit jarring, but the DJ scored a nice one when she or he through on “Sweet Home Alabama.” The billies couldn’t help but let loose a rebel yell. Classy. Rockola also delivered my second favorite line of the night during a bit about two lovers splitting up — “You need someone who can give you the biscuits. I’m making toast.” That one of them lived in a, um, rain closet made it all the more surreal (fortunately she had an umbrella). The team ended their show by mocking Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).” Booties were shaken and dollars bills were handed out and stuffed into pants gentlemen’s club-style. It was a nice ending to a rock solid show at Stars. –Chris Haire