The Game, at the O’Bar & Cafe. While in college I was entrusted with being the scriptwriter for the improv team. But eventually I was forced to quit. A scene concerning a newfangled grocery store for lazy people that sold wheat bread with the peanut butter and grape jam already in it seemed so funny when the team came up with it, but the minute I tried to get it down on paper it was dead.

A similar fate befalls the sketch-comedy revue The Game: the three players, having rigorously scripted all their improvisationally created scenes, rob the show of the one element that could have saved it, spontaneity. What remains is 90 minutes’ worth of moderately amusing vignettes that were probably a lot funnier the first time around.

Debra Downing, Kristian Hammond, and Rob Reese follow the time-worn rhythm of wacky satire topped off by a de rigueur “surprise ending,” displaying a modest mastery of improv technique. But they come up short in the inspiration department. It’s pleasant enough to watch scenes concerning a physician who thinks all her patients have tumors, an angst-ridden slacker band from Winnetka, an overly accommodating motel desk clerk, a young Christopher Columbus conquering anything in sight, and a trio of mentally challenged dogs plotting a revolution. But these generally overwritten bits lack any identifiable or worthwhile satirical target. Much of this may have been uproarious in rehearsal, but it was hardly worth writing down.

–Adam Langer