The Sofa Kings
Thurs. @ 9:30 p.m., Theatre 99

If you don’t yet get the name, trying saying it out loud: They’re Sofa King good. The nine local lads who make up Theater 99’s all-male improv crew are each pretty damn sharp, a necessary attribute when you’re thrown on stage in front of people and told to be funny. Adopting Chicago’s demanding “Harold” style of improvisation on a set theme, then twisting it into a Cackalack-hybrid, the group takes a suggestion from the audience and spins it, on the spot, into a twisted, shaken, and stirred king’s cup of drollery.

“In true Southern fashion, it’s really just a lazier form of the Harold style,” explains member Henry Riggs. That’s just modesty – they frequently rehearse unscripted scenarios without an audience, beginning with warm-ups and word games to loosen their minds. A recent performance began with the suggestions “Milkman” and “day-care,” morphing into male preschool teachers smoking cigarettes in the janitor’s closet, while a 4-year-old “Mikey” attempted to eat the “milk dud mole” off his teacher’s face.

On stage, the Sofa Kings wear black ties and pants, an outfit that compliments the humor when one of them is playing a drooling pre-schooler. The guys all have daytime obligations, ranging from CofC student to Navy nuclear trainee to Blackbaud software engineer, but in performance they’re all full-time improv pros. Caleb Usry and John Brennan pull double-duty this week, performing with the acts Men Are from Goose Creek, Women Are from Savannah and Big Dicktionary, respectively. Henry Riggs gained some notoriety with his Hobo: The Musical that had a pair of runs at Theatre 99 last year.

For a random assortment of comics, the Kings’ comfort level with each other is evident on stage. “It’s 30 minutes of mayhem,” says member Mike Gorgone. “We don’t know what’s going to happen, so there’s lots of craziness.” –Stratton Lawrence