Welcome to Crazytown
Sacramento Comedy Spot
Sacramento, CA 95811
Sacramento’s a funny place.
No, really. There’s a burgeoning comedy scene made up of local funny people, but it’s not your typical stand-up, Seinfeld comedy-club atmosphere. Instead, Sacramento’s homegrown comedy tends to be about sketches and improvisations.
Local sketch-comedy fans know groups like I Can’t Believe It’s Not Comedy and the Free Hooch Comedy Troupe. But a growing scene based at the Sacramento Comedy Spot on Broadway is improvising and sketching on a regular basis.
Brian Crall, an original member of the Free Hooch gang, is co-owner and managing director of the Sacramento Comedy Spot. He also teaches classes in both improv and sketch comedy and programs the lineup for the venue’s shows.
And shows are selling out. Even in a down economy, the Comedy Spot had continuous sellouts from November through March. Reservations are recommended if you want a chance to find out what fun can be had playing “Dare or Dare,” or to watch the improv work of the Anti-Cooperation League, one of the resident groups at the club.
The improv form starts with a premise—the who, what and where of the story—and then, as Crall puts it, “something unusual happens.” Essentially, an improv scene is a story that the comics make up as they go along, adding details and leading the audience along. “We heighten the unusual thing until we get to Crazytown,” said Crall.
In a short demonstration, Crall created an improvised scene that started with a father taking his 24-year-old son to Disneyland for his birthday, and ended up with the son’s wedding—complete with stuffed animals for attendants.
OK, maybe you had to be there, but trust me, it was funny. The term “furvert” was used.
Most of the comedy relies on character and situation, and it’s not what you’d call off-color. “We push the boundaries,” Crall said. “We’re edgy and weird. We’re not crude and we’re not trying to shock, but it will get PG-13, and sometimes goes into the R range.”
And it will require audience participation, if only to kick off the fun. “We ask someone in the audience for a purse or a wallet, and we rummage through it to find interesting things,” Crall said. The idea isn’t to embarrass anyone, but to prompt ideas for scenes—or “games,” as the improvising comics say. “It’s not about the person, it’s about the stories we get from the stuff.”
They’re not out to make fun of anyone in particular. Improv and sketch comedy is, instead, about finding the humor in situations—especially when those situations are carried to the extreme.
“We’re definitely not telling jokes,” Crall said, pointing out that punch lines work against the collaborative nature of improv comedy, which relies on cooperation toward the creation of a scene rather than the one-upmanship of one-liners. “We try to make intelligent game moves. A lot of the funny comes from how quickly things get strange.”
And the stranger things get, the better it is to laugh.