July is a rough month for theater. There's not much going on outside of the Shakespeare Fest in Ashland, and Ashland is pretty far away. Last weekend, I took advantage of the slump to check out a venue I've managed to avoid for over a year now: the Brody Theater, hallowed stomping ground for the Portland improv community. I really have been avoiding the Brody, because the press releases that I receive from that corner, about Theatresports and "long-form improv" have done little to pique my interest. After attending the aforementioned Theatresports, I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that the crew at the Brody work on their PR: The show I saw last Friday was hit and miss, but the hits provided some of the funniest moments of theater I've seen in this town.
The Brody is located deep in NW Portland, down a sketchy stairwell beneath the Bull Ring restaurant. The concession stand serves beer, wine, and Otter Pops, and the tiny theater has a ramshackle feel which could either translate to "shoddy" or "authentically underground," depending on your perspective.
Theatresports is short-form improv, in which two teams compete against each other, evaluated by two judges decked out in full robes. The teams perform scenes that are based on audience responses to questions like, "What's something unusual that happened to you on the Fourth of July?"
The sketches themselves ranged from vaguely embarrassing to utterly hilarious. I won't say that the entire evening was one shining bar of comedic gold, but it is fair to say that the performers do what they do very well. It almost seems inappropriate to single out individual actors for praise, due to the intensely collaborative nature of the show, but I will anyway: Standout performances came from the lanky Jim Waigand, equally entertaining while playing John Holmes or an underprivileged youth, and Beau Brousseau, who seems to posses an endless reserve of manic versatility.
Apparently, hilarity can be found at the Brody two nights a week (Summer in Brodavia runs every Saturday night), week after week after week. That's a lot of hilarity—I'll be back for more, and next time I'm bringing my friends.