A-Team Full Review: Waffle Fest!

Scriptless Mania – Waffle Fest at The Hideout Theatre

The first rule of improv is “Build on it.” The 8 p.m. Sat. Waffle Fest show at the Hideout Theatre on Congress Ave. had patrons and actors doing just that. First, building your-own-best waffle — complete with toppings ranging from Nutelle® spread to M&Ms®. (Sugar is a perfect complement for laughter, if not purely cognitive thinking.) And these were no disenfranchised pigskin aficionados unable to get into the UT-KU game. They ranged from improv students to first-timers to savvy fans of what I call “scriptless mania.”

First up, The Starter Kit Comedy Troupe (www.tskcomedy.com), which consisted of Erik Adams, Justin Davis, Zach Palmer and Brad Temple, plus guests John and Madelyn. Their sketch revolved around a mysterious death at the beach with the audience providing names of crazy objects at the outset. Each actor brought both physicality and lightning fast intellect to the onstage mayhem, often devilishly pushing other troupers into “flashback” scenes. Mix the survivor of a late night rave with a suntan-obsessed man, a metal-detector-toting beachcomber, a Bohemian bartender and the scion of the owners of the beach town and before long, most of the audience was gasping for air the laughs were coming so fast.

Next up, Michael Joplin, Craig Kotfas and Ace Manning – The Knuckleball Now – all proven talents on the highly active Austin improv scene (www.austinimprov.com) There are more than 20 improv companies, most busy on any given weekend, with TKN being 3rd Sat. regulars at Salvage Vanguard Theatre, and at The Hideout. Craig was one of the original 15 cast members who built the Hideout Theatre in Downtown Austin.

This trio of improvisers (theknuckleballnow.net), marking their fifth year together, asked the audience to provide the most recent text messages from their cell phones as the inspiration or basic skeleton for TKN’s largely comedic (sometimes dramatic) sketches. That alone was worth a few guffaws.

TKN was high energy improv, firing through scenes with such slight pauses that you often could not tell if the previous scene was connected to the last one or a fresh take on a new subject, much less let older (slower?) audience members catch up to the “punchline.” TKN calls their format “Peak & Pop.”

While the audience must trust the show is unscripted, it was obvious TKN members were revisiting some of their favorite characters. And that’s not a bad thing, per se. Maybe it is as the “Ballers” say, their “unwavering faith in each other, where the brain synapses are in sync and there is a connection through chaos.”

Yeah, whatever. I had a great time. Where else can one spend $11, have dinner . . . well, breakfast, participate in a waffle-eating contest – three did, and the woman won! – laugh so hard and not mind having a sticky steering wheel on the drive home? Now, please pass the syrup!

Preston Kirk, Spicewood TX

Member, The NowPlayingAustin A-Team

Greater Austin Creative Alliance

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