Do you ever find yourself alone at 2 am – perhaps inebriated, perhaps not – wishing you could turn on the TV and watch a Whose Line Is It Anyway? rerun on ABC Family? Life just isn’t the same without Drew Carey, Wayne Brady, and their crew of pasty-faced Canadian merrymakers improvising comedy sketches on late night TV.
It’s a deep, dark void I’ve felt in my life for a long time.
Luckily, here at least in Metro Detroit we have Planet Ant Theater in Hamtramck to help us get some semblance of a fix. Every Monday night the Planet Ant Improv Colony Home Team improvises within the bowels of the old candy shop on Caniff, acting out scenes determined in part by the audience, just like Whose Line Is It Anyway?.
The actors have no stage props, no fancy sets to establish the scene. They have to make the plot up on the fly. It’s incredibly challenging, but at Planet Ant Theater they make it look easy – most of the time, anyway.
Inspired by the liberating qualities of alcohol (it’s a BYOB event, after all), audience suggestions – foolishly encouraged by the actors – can turn what was to be an innocent PTO sale into a black market for babies, a romantic stroll down the street into an awkward meeting with Oscar the Grouch. The veterans, such as Detroit legends Margaret Edwartowski and Dave Davies, take the bizarre twists in stride, churning out humorous scenarios like Kowalski on Holbrook churns out Polish sausages. Nothing fazes them, not even the most ribald shout-out from the audience.
And sometimes, believe it or not, they’re even nice enough to treat their guests to a free potluck or barbecue while they’re at it, too. I mean, what more could you ask for from these people? Planet Ant Theater only charges a paltry $5 for admission, and by the end of the night, you’ll feel like you’ve completely ripped them off, like you’ve taken their hospitality for granted and spit on it with a maniacal grin.
Exactly how insanely kind are the folks at Planet Ant Theater? Get this – before and after the show, they even rub shoulders with the audience, hanging out with strangers like they were old high school buddies! And here I thought actors were supposed to be snooty and unfriendly. What’s going on here?
Overall, the crowd at Improv Mondays is young(ish), hip, and just as friendly as the actors. Sitting in the snug stadium-style red seats, you can’t help but strike up a friendly conversation or two. It’s a nice vibe, maybe even better than the on your couch at home.