Where Do You Get Off? | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Where Do You Get Off? 

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44th Floor Productions, at the Organic Theater Company Greenhouse, Lab Theater.

In this improv-glutted city, the 12-member 44th Floor troupe stands out. Ranging in age from 24 to 57 and in background from lawyer to musician to owner of a trading company, they represent a welcome departure from the "three male, two female, we live with our parents but we watch lots of TV comedy" combos. The diversity of their experiences may account for the originality and not-infrequent intelligence of their material. Though Where Do You Get Off? is as hit-and-miss as any comedy revue, it actually seems to share its audience's knowledge and to address the audience (as opposed to pandering to a nebulous "middle America").

In one sketch a group of fathers, bragging about their children's accomplishments, begin to toss their babies about, and it escalates until one father is juggling all five babies. When the children come down, each father reflexively catches one, not necessarily his own; another comedy troupe might well have let all five babies splatter on the ground. For another sketch an actress must choose from an array of glamorous roles, and picks a plumber. On the other hand, a "spot the commie" spoof is outdated and incoherent, and a TV-roulette routine is likewise a facile classroom exercise.

Ninety minutes is rather long for a late-night show, but the indispensable assistance of piano man Greg Winston and the imaginations of the enthusiastic audience (some of whom should learn to refrain from shouting out punch lines ahead of the actors) help redeem the occasional slow stretch, as does the overall craftsmanship of a clever troupe unafraid to take the high road as well as the low.


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