Present at the creation: Scott Adsit
  • Present at the creation: Scott Adsit

There’s a great load of mystique surrounding improvisation. The long-form version in particular has its legends and its saints, its temples, commandments, and arcana based on the magic of spontaneous creation. Sometimes you’ve got to wonder whether that’s all just spin to keep the pews filled and the workshops running, the way it is in any religion. But then somebody goes and delivers a miracle.

I saw a miracle or two last night at iO, where a group led by Scott Adsit contributed an evening of long-form improv to the TBS Just for Laughs comedy festival.

Gainfully employed now as a star of NBC’s 30 Rock, Adsit used to play at both iO and the Second City. He was joined in the show I saw by fellow Chicago improvisers-turned-TV-entertainers Jon Glaser and Kevin Dorff. But there would’ve been no sacred event without the participation of Dave Pasquesi and T.J. Jagodowski, a prodigious pair who remain based in Chicago and perform together in a celebrated weekly late-night show called T.J. & Dave.

Last night’s odyssey started as simply as could be, with Pasquesi standing maybe 15 feet from Glaser and grinning amiably at him. Joined by a buddy (Adsit), Glaser confided that he was creeped out because the grinning had been going on for a full 30 minutes. The setting, it developed, was a bar, and Pasquesi was just a nice-guy conventioneer with a tendency to grin amiably at people. The scene soon split focus as Pasquesi got into bar talk with Adsit, and Glaser struck up a conversation with Jagodowski. We heard snippets from each pair in nicely orchestrated turns. This one was in bike sales, that one bred dogs. There was some patter about the Bible. Pasquesi was in mourning because his wife had “burned down.”