Dueling Harolds | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Dueling Harolds 

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Dueling Harolds, ImprovOlympic. Essentially a rehash of Improv-Olympic's Friday night The Cage Match, this latest foray into ComedySportz-style improv lacks the depth and humor of Improv-Olympic's late-night offerings, which are more challenging. The show's competition format--two teams are awarded points by judges for using their own suggestions, introducing the other team's theme into their Harold, or adding a clever twist--is unfortunately an excuse for stage hogging and buffoonery of the worst kind. When the two teams take the stage, almost all the rules of good improv are unceremoniously dumped, and that's only the first strike against the show.

Dueling Harolds is improv about improv, and that can get pretty dull. On the evening I attended, the only humor came from the vicious color commentary on the game by regulars T.J. Jagadowski, Miles Stroth, and Jason Sudeikis (subbing for Noah Gregoropolus). Playing vapid sportscasters, these three ImprovOlympic elder statesmen clearly relished the opportunity to poke fun at the team members' neuroses and idiosyncratic mannerisms. But this was probably better fun for the other ImprovOlympic students in the audience than it was for those not clued into the barrage of in-jokes, and it was clearly not in the cooperative spirit of true improv.

Worst of all, their frequent interruptions and interjections severely limited the two teams' ability to produce any semblance of a coherent long-form piece--the evening's purported goal--undermining every single iota of actual improv onstage.

--Nick Green

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