If comedy improv can be likened to a suit of clothing, most companies in town are factory seconds. Avant-Garfielde is pute haute couture. Their work is innovative, the details carefully constructed, and crowds throng to see their newest creations, as their unheard-of six-and-a-half-year run at Jimmy’s Woodlawn Tap in Hyde Park demonstrates. This group of impossibly quick-witted performers present some of the funniest, hippest and smartest comedy material I’ve run across. They do all the old improv standrards: freeze tag, one-word story, and scenes based on audience suggestions, in the last case making ingenious use of what’s often lame material. The night I attended, the players asked the audience for a location; one audience member blandly offered “a ship” and a second adolescently suggested “a urinal.” Without a moment’s hesitation, the scene was set aboard a “urinal ship,” carrying much-needed urine across the ocean to Germany (on the premise that Europeans reuse things that Americans simply throw away). The acting skill of this company sets them apart too: these performers know a scene is always funnier than the individuals in it. Luckily for audiences their talent will be on display several places this fall. They’ll appear as Cardiff Giant on Saturday nights in September at Cafe Voltaire with their revival of last year’s Some Candy (aptly titled Some Mo’ Candy), and they’ll premiere an original full-length musical somewhere in late September. But don’t miss their gig at Jimmy’s. Not only is the bar comfortable and boisterous, but the show is free. At Jimmy’s Woodlawn Tap, open run (1172 E. 55th, 784-6763). Wednesdays, 8 PM. Some Mo’ Candy plays at Cafe Voltaire, September 7 through 28 (3231 N. Clark, 784-6763). Saturdays, 11 PM. $4.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Suzanne N. Plunkett.