Nestled on Ventura Blvd in Sherman Oaks Ca, lies the LA Connection Comedy Theatre. Other than its flashing marquee, if you were driving past, you might not even know it was there. Opened in 1980 and according to the website, remodeled in 1992, when you walk in the door, it’s immediately apparent the Theatre’s seen better days. As for the shows, I am reviewing two: “2001: An Improv Odyssey”, which is the house team, and “The Wheels Of Comedy” which is the Theatre’s late show. First off, be careful with the ticket prices. There is a sudden jump in price from $10 to $12 if you go to see the house team. The cost of one ticket is supposed to get you in for the entire night. However, the show before is only $10 and advertises that it too will get you in for the entire night. So here’s a tip, go to the early show, get a $2 discount.
As for the shows, the Theatre and its teams specialize in short form improv, or games as opposed to long form improv (Harold style) which is more common at LA’s improv Theatres. To me this was a big draw, because it was something different, something not many are doing. I was looking forward to seeing the Drew Carey and his, “Who’s Line Is It Anyway” style of improv comedy made famous on the hit ABC show. However, as the show progressed I slowly realized, I wasn’t going to get that level of comedy. The thing about improv is that it’s made up on the spot, usually through audience suggestions, news headlines, or things like that. Some shows will now incorporate Twitter and Facebook into the show. With “2001: An Improv Odyssey”, I didn’t get that vibe. My main critique would be that show feels rehearsed. There is no real sense of spontaneity with the performances. Don’t get me wrong, the show has its moments, and can very entertaining. Steve Pinto stood out with his array impressions and character work, and the other cast members were mostly solid, with one exception. Kent Skov, the host and Theatre founder tends to flail around on stage occasionally bickering and talking down to the audience like they are 6thgraders. Of course, this may just be his shtick, but it didn’t sit with me, and I was not entertained by the act. The show wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t gut busting funny and due to its rehearsed feel, there were no true genuinely inspiring moments.
The second group in this review is called “The Wheels of Comedy,” though I believe the group was formerly known as “So Funny It Squirts.” This show was more what I expected from the house team. The group came out with a sense of enthusiasm that wasn’t in the first show. The comedy and wasn’t always razor sharp, but it was never unfunny. They also did a really nice job of taking traditional improv games, and adding some nice touches to them. After the first show, it was refreshing to see a group that was on stage to have fun, and make their audience laugh. Without a doubt it was the more enjoyable show of the two in this review, it is the show I would recommend seeing.
My final thoughts, if you’re in Sherman Oaks, and you’re out late on a Saturday night having a few drinks, it worth stopping in and checking out. I recommend the late show, especially for the younger 18 to 40 crowd. Bring a drink (there is no bar) or two and enjoy. For those looking for top shelf improv, however, take that same $10 bucks and check out iO West or UCB, maybe M.i.’s if you’re on the Westside. It will definitely be a better bang for your buck.