The Smokes Review - UCB Comedy Show

We were instructed to stand in a single-file line on the edge of the curb so that pedestrians still had room to get by the people waiting for “The Smokes” at Upright Citizens Brigade Theater at 7 p.m. last night.  The majority of the crowd had ticket reservations knowing shows sell out. The usual improv comedy followers were back from their 4th of July vacations.  By the time we entered the theater, empty seats were down to one side section.  


After a brief introduction of the cast, audience members were asked for a theme.  A woman in the crowd shouted, “reconstruction!”  This began the hour of laughs keeping the eager audience entertained by the improvisation of six comedians.  The comedians took the theme and covered a wide array of topics feeding off each other’s ideas to further the skits.   The entire cast was involved with the first idea acting out a movie set of a provocative film during the Reconstruction period.  The main laughter came from the enactment of stripping the heavily clothed woman of all her layers including her pantaloons and hoop skirt.  The skits quickly turned into tag team style with two comedians bouncing ideas of each other until a tap on the shoulder signaled a switch.  Topics that stemmed from the theme included reconstructive surgery and reconstructing houses.  Reconstructing houses involved skits of sorority and fraternity members.  The fraternal brothers drank an idea up of constructing a house for habitat for humanity, a “fratitat.”  However rather than donating to others, the house would serve as a shelter for homeless fraternity brothers because they don’t know where to live after the frat house.  Another comedian playing a four-hour homeless Greek brother demonstrates this.  The cast circled their comedy to the beginning of the skits ending Act I with the movie set scene with the director yelling “we need more carpetbaggers, carpet munching, you know whatever…”

From left to right: Jim Woods, Billy Merritt, Brian Gallivan


The first half of the show flew by seeming like only 10 minutes at most.  I was too busy enjoying the show to be aware of time.  After a quick intermission the show restarted in a similar fashion with audience participation.  This time the word shouted was plinko.  The comedians set the scene all adding their own details to the imaginary warehouse of old game show game boards including a wheel from wheel of fortune, a gift shop with some interesting merchandise, and a break room for security guards.  Two comedians played security guards lost in stories of Alcatraz tours of tours.  A gift shop manager and employee were the characters of another pair.  While others impersonated Bob Parker and his assistant.  Comedy was created from all members involved in the skit from Parker’s outrageous requests to the awkward employee’s gift shop doll additions.  Each comedian received laughs from the packed house.  When exiting the theater, the line had already formed for the next show at 8 p.m.  The bar next store began to fill as the crowd members either waited for the next show or the next beer.

From left to right: Joe Wengert, Susannah Becket, Chris Kula


For more information visit  www.losangeles.ucbtheatre.com

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