Improv comedy, at its best, is, well, unpredictable. But there are a few predictably entertaining improv troupes in the area. Loosely divided between the “short-form,” “long-form” and “sketch” designations, these supremely talented men and women will do anything to make you laugh. Read on for just when and where:
All for ‘Sportz’
Actually a national franchise, the short-form ComedySportz features two teams of “act-letes” battling for points in a competition filled with an array of improvisational theater games – and with a referee to govern the action. Shows are held each Saturday at 7:30 and 10pm at the Adrienne Theatre in Center City, with the early show being “family-friendly” and the late show, err, not so much. Audience participation is part of each performance, so you may want to put on your comedic work-out clothes.
$12 – $15, Playground at the Adrienne Theatre, 2030 Sansom St., Philadelphia, 877.98.LAUGH; www.comedysportzphilly.com
Long-form troupe The Ninjas – the city’s self-proclaimed “Most Deadly Improv Group” – holds a weekly showcase on Tuesdays at the Raven Lounge in Center City. The evening of comedy features recurring characters and a loose plot, but hopefully no Chinese stars.
8pm, free, Upstairs at the Raven Lounge, 1718 Sansom St., Philadelphia, 215.840.3577; www.ninjaimprov.com
Best of the Rest
‘Lunch Lady’ Land: Long-form troupe Lunch Lady Doris, which just celebrated its 10th anniversary, will be the guests of the above-mentioned Ninjas at the Raven Lounge on July 25. Visit www.lunchladydoris.com
Crowd Control: Short-form improv troupe The N Crowd, which blends humor and spontaneous actions in its performances, just finished a run at the Society Hill Playhouse in Center City. Visit www.phillyncrowd.com
‘Bird Watching’: Long-form troupe The Rare Bird Show has a handful of upcoming shows scheduled, including the Philly Fringe in September. Visit www.rarebirdshow.com
Pure ‘Energy’: Comic Energy, which has been compared to Chicago comedy giant Second City, has been busy lately with gigs at Rembrandt’s in Fairmount and the Shubin Theatre in South Philadelphia. Visit www.comicenergy.com
Why ‘Wait’: Billing itself as Philadelphia’s premier sketch comedy troupe, The Waitstaff has been lighting up the Five Spot since 2003 but recently performed at World CafÃ© Live. Visit www.thewaitstaff.com
‘Minor’ Chords: Sketch comedy quartet The Minor Prophets, which uses self-shot video skits in its performances, will be premiering a new show this fall. www.theminorprophets.com