Good news and bad news this past week for comedy enthusiasts in the Treasure Valley ...
Quickly, the bad: Comedian Louis C.K. of FX's "Louie" canceled his March 7 concert at Taco Bell Arena almost as soon as he'd announced it. (In an email, he told fans that a last-minute movie opportunity came up. Yay.)
Now, the positive development: ComedySportz, a local improv comedy troupe, will make its debut in Boise on Feb. 22 and 23.
Or, more accurately, make its return.
ComedySportz first opened at the Boise Spectrum in 2006. But costly overhead combined with the recession caused it to shutter within a year.
Into the comedic picture walked Randy Reese, who moved to Idaho from his longtime home of Buffalo, N.Y., in 2011. A former comedy club owner in Buffalo, Reese also ranComedySportz in that city for nearly two decades. (There are more than 20 ComedySportz locations nationwide.)
Pulling together the two ex-operators of Boise's ComedySportz and three of its former cast members, plus a dozen new recruits, Reese has revived the concept in an intimate, 70-seat room at the Waterfront complex at Lakeharbor (2350 N. Lakeharbor Lane, Suite 184A).
There will be a show each night next weekend. After that, performances will happen at 7:30 p.m. Saturdays, with plans for monthly family shows, kids matinees and a "rec league" for amateur improv hopefuls.
So precisely what is ComedySportz?
"Telling people what we do is difficult," Reese admits. "If it wasn't for 'Whose Line Is It Anyway?' nobody would get the concept when they walked in."
There are similarities to the now-defunct TV series. But instead of four individuals on stage, there are two teams of three or four people. Instead of a host, there's a referee.
"And on this show, points do matter," Reese says. "Because we declare a winner at the end."
The comedy is clean enough to be family-friendly, but Reese doesn't recommend bringing children under 10: "They're probably not going to get the jokes," he says.
Audience members yell suggestions, come on stage, award points and judge matches.
Unlike at a stand-up show, you don't have to be afraid to sit in the front row.
"We don't single anybody out. We don't pull anybody on stage," Reese says. "We try not to be intimidating."
ComedySportz is starting humbly at the Waterfront, Reese realizes. "It's kind of out of the way; I understand that," he says.
But that's how he wants it. After seven years owning a full-service restaurant and comedy club called Comix Cafe back in Buffalo, a modest ComedySportz spot in Boise sounds pretty good.
Reese hopes improv fans will spread the word.
"Bring your friends," he says. "And like us on Facebook."
SHAKESPEARE SEASON SHAPES UP
With the weather warming, it's time to think about Idaho Shakespeare Festival.
(OK, maybe not quite yet. But still.)
The season will kick off with Noel Coward's comedy "Blithe Spirit" directed by artistic director Charlie Fee.
Next up: "Much Ado About Nothing." Sharon Ott, former artistic director of Berkeley and Seattle repertory theaters, will direct.
Victoria Bussert will return to direct the musical thriller "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street."
Former Milwaukee Repertory artistic director Joe Hanreddy will helm "King Richard III."
The season's final production will be the two-act comedy "The Foreigner," directed by Sari Ketter.
For tickets, visit IdahoShakespeare.org.
GOING, GOING, GONE ...
The Carrie Underwood concert Feb. 17 at Taco Bell Arena has sold out.
Also history: Tickets to the fun. concert Aug. 28 at the Idaho Botanical Garden. Those sold out less than an hour after they went on sale.
BOISE VENUES RANKED IN 2012
Pollstar recently released rankings for entertainment venues. A few numbers:
- The Knitting Factory in Boise finished at No. 58 nationally, No. 65 worldwide among club venues.
- The Morrison Center finished No. 86 among theater venues worldwide.
TONIGHT IN 'THE OTHER STUDIO'
94.9 The River program director Tim Johnstone and I will talk about the final Treefort Music Fest band announcements and play new music from The Postal Service (which is coming to the Knitting Factory in May), Wavves, Fall Out Boy and more.
"The Other Studio" airs from 9 to 10 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM.
COMING IN SCENE FEB. 22
- Off the beaten path: A road map to some of Boise's best-kept dining secrets.
- The Boise Philharmonic takes on Beethoven's 9th - one of the biggest symphonies ever written.
- Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson stars in the new action-thriller "Snitch."
Michael Deeds' column runs Fridays in Scene and Sundays in Life. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @IDS_Deeds