improv comedy with an audience member


PDC - Philadelphia Dramaturgists Center
Matt& Improv Comedy Fringe Festival Review

PDC (Philadelphia Dramatists Center)
September, 2010
by Thomas Tirney

The immediacy of improvisation makes it difficult to critique. A live, unscripted performance will change every single night.

In this show, comedian Matt Holmes pulls a random audience member to construct a 45-minute comedic interaction. The show not only depends upon the intelligence and personality of the comedian but also upon the willingness of the participant to make fun and be made fun of.

Although Mr. Holmes was handicapped by a small audience (comedy works much better as the volume of laughter increases) he made a game of it with a tall, good-looking, Philly girl. This young lady had a great attitude and played a series of personas chosen by Mr. Holmes.

The first sketch saw them both try on horrific Mexican accents so that Mr. Holmes could take her to task for writing a crap thesis on the Chupacabra phenomenon. This segued into a conversation where Mr. Holmes played a bitchy schoolmarm to his audience member's recalcitrant Catholic schoolgirl (who retained a penchant for channeling her inner Mexican now and then). Then they switched to a tween-girl banter. And on and on.

I must say that Matt Holmes can do an excellent American tween girl. Probably better than the real thing.

Pacing could improve a bit, but it was fun, and I will undoubtedly look for more of Holmes's stuff in the future. M@& is only one of seven shows sponsored by the Philly Improv Theater (PHIT) this year at the Fringe.

As explained to me before curtain, PHIT is the only long-form improv troupe in Philadelphia. Founded in 2005, the organization is influenced by Chicago's Second City and New York's Upright Citizens Brigade. PHIT has a weeklong residency at The Shubin Theatre each month and offers classes year round.

Matt& plays Sep 8 at 10PM, Sep 11 at 7PM, Sep 12 at 7PM, and Sep 16 at 8:30PM.

Other PHIT shows include King Friday, Activity Book, Fletcher, PHIT's Improv Tasting, PHIT's Side of Sketch, and The Improvised Soap Opera.