Beer Shark Mice | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Beer Shark Mice 

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As improv goes, this offering in iO's Homecoming series (a showcase of performers from around the country) packs star power. David Koechner (Anchorman, The Naked Trucker and T-Bones Show), Neil Flynn (Scrubs), and Pete Hulne (American Body Shop)--all trained at iO Chicago--are three of five veteran comedians in a long-form group that's been headlining iO West in Los Angeles for years. Their performances are hypermasculine, with the tall Koechner and Flynn often playing up the brutishness that marks their TV and film work. All move swiftly, and transitions can be merciless, with one shoving another out of character or the scene. But they're still thespians: at one performance the boorish Koechner even dropped an Arthur Miller reference shortly before the group burst into frenetic physical comedy. Charna Halpern, iO's cofounder, says Koechner and Hulne "practically built this business with me." Hulne used to construct sets for the theater when it was itinerant in the 80s, and Koechner was especially instrumental in nurturing iO West. Halpern gives them credit for making people take notice of improv. Their work, she says, made the form "faster and funnier." a Fri 8/3, 9 and 10:30 PM, and Sat 8/4, 9 PM, iO, 3541 N. Clark, 773-880-0199, $15. --Ryan Hubbard

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