Chaos Theory, at Chaos Labs.

In a desperate bid to make what would otherwise be just another stale evening of sketch comedy and improv seem fresh and new, the folks of Chaos Theory have borrowed a trick from Sheila and the Neo-Futurists. Audience members decide, during the course of the show, which sketch or improv game the cast will perform next by drawing a name from the “Can O’ Chaos.”

They needn’t have bothered. Chaos Theory’s material is so thin, its comedy ideas so familiar, and the performances so sluggish and dogged that this one touch of playfulness hardly matters. Especially since the only way these indifferent improvisers can think of to get laughs is to deny the other performers’ reality. This leads to such knee-slapping dialogue as the following: Wife: Here’s your son. Husband: You were pregnant? (Wife stares at him blankly.) Husband: Hey! We never had sex! (Audience, accustomed to much hipper improv at ImprovOlympic, Annoyance Theatre, and even Second City, slap foreheads in unison.)

Frankly last Saturday, in that sweltering hot box that passes for a performance space, the best thing going was the carafe of lukewarm water set on each cabaret table.