Theyre two very different types. Hawk is the more intellectual and nerdy-looking (you may remember him from Circumference of a Squirrel at The [email protected] and freeFall Theatre), while Wayne has a rubber mask of a face suggesting wild mutability. At the start of their show, they announce that what they offer is long-form improvisation; instead of taking suggestions from the audience all through the night, theyll take one suggestion only and let that lead to one scene after the next in a kind of theatrical stream-of-consciousness.
Of course, every performance will be different, but on the night I attended they asked the audience for a dumb idea and someone suggested Britney Spears. So Wayne became Britney, Hawk was K-Fed, and there were some hilarious moments involving the baby that Spears repeatedly mishandled (I thought it was a Chihuahua!). This turned into a segment about two country singers, one of whom Hawk announced that he was suffering from ennui. Wayne (Delbert) tried to turn this into a country song, but at the end the two singers admitted they were unemployed which segued right into a sketch about two men filing for unemployment. The best parts of that segment concerned a nearly infinite number of pamphlets explaining everything from how to wait in line to how to talk like pseudo-German guys. This led to the sketch about the two U.S. Airway pilots, bored with flying and amusing each other with Facebook and Asian porn while their plane, supposed to land in Minneapolis, makes its way to Cuba.
Somehow this turned into a sketch about two cosmetic surgeons performing liposuction on an immensely fat man, and suctioning up his liver by mistake. (Someones cellphone went off in the audience during this bit, and the actors deftly turned it into more medical comedy.) Then came one of the best parts of the evening: Wayne as a mean father playing racquetball with his son, and accompanying each serve with shouts of I never loved your mother, You were never breastfed and We used to buy your toys at garage sales.
This was followed by Hawk and Wayne as man and wife, he reading a newspaper and she crocheting only every few moments they began moaning and screeching like monsters in a bad horror film. When Hawk finally collapsed, Wayne danced around him chanting like a screwball Native American.
Ive seen improv troupes from Chicagos Second City to a Dick Schaal-inspired team in downtown St. Petersburg, and the two actors in The Dumb Show seem to me about as professional as you could want. Also pleasing, if not quite as inventive, was the opening act Arthur, Felton and Edwards a troupe that offered theater games in which the audience figured importantly. First the trio answered audience questions in one-word-per-actor long, twisted sentences; then they performed a silly sketch in one minute, then 30 seconds, then 15 seconds and then five; and finally they tried to indirectly prompt one of their number to admit that, with his accomplice Bugs Bunny and while wearing a Speedo, he ate a bowl of Fruit Loops.
The (surprisingly) young audience members in the American Stage lobby for this After Hours performance were loudly appreciative of both the opening act and the headliners, and I basically agreed with them. The Dumb Show and Arthur, Felton and Edwards made an evening of satisfying theater.
The show is only offered on the first Sunday of each month, so youll have to wait till December to see the next one. But its worth the wait. As to where Hawk and Wayne will take their audience in December...Well, thats anyones guess. And, this being improv, thats just right.