On the spot

Live comedy isn’t usually cheap. Most clubs charge a $20 cover before serving the mandatory two-drink minimum. Factor in food and a tip, and it’s easy to spend $50 per person. So when the Sacramento Comedy Spot offers live improv comedy for just $5, it’s hard to pass up such a sweet deal. This season, Capitol Garage has been hosting the shows once a week on Wednesday nights.

You have to give credit to anybody willing to perform absurd, unrehearsed sketches in front of an unpredictable audience, especially when the performers get so, well, energetic about it. Unfortunately, giving credit and getting energetic doesn’t guarantee Whose Line is it Anyway?-quality laughs.

Two Wednesdays ago, the bar was nearly empty half an hour before the show. People trickled in slowly and it seemed most of the 20 or so patrons already knew each other. Soon it became apparent that nine of them were the performers. It also became apparent that the uncomfortable metal chairs were not meant to be occupied for a two-hour show.

It began at 9 p.m. with the first of several excruciatingly long and tedious skits. The whole show was shot through with five-minute stretches when nobody—really, nobody—laughed. Maybe it was an off night, or maybe the performers lacked experience, but somehow they figured that screaming their lines or forcing sexual dialogue would magically transform an unfunny skit into a funny one.

Speaking of sexual, though, the best part of the evening had to be the slender brunette with fading red hair dye writhing around on stage, cocking her hips and sticking out her ass at every given opportunity. In the show’s second half, when she tore off her black sweater, revealing a sheer black top with a black bra visible beneath it, people perked right up, instinctively reaching in their pockets for wads of $1 bills.

OK, no, not really. She wasn’t funny but, by God, she almost made the show worth it.

And it’s not like the group was never funny. The most entertaining skits involved the audience directly. In a game called “Puppets,” two women from the audience physically manipulated two performers posing as a couple filing for divorce. “Interpretive Dance” was a spoof of modern dance recitals based on the daily routine of a Sac State student sitting in the second row.

But the laughs were rare. The last bit—about teenage clerks at Bel Air who are on the cheerleading squad and all sleeping with each other and now they work for Albertson’s and omigod I can’t believe he gave her a promise ring—dragged on for a mind-numbing 20 minutes. It was so bad that some of the last remaining audience members wouldn’t stop talking through it.

Eleven o’clock finally came and the show ended to mild applause. Maybe you do get what you pay for.