The face of comedy. A night at the Washington Improv Theatre

Sometimes you are not funny.” That’s what I tell my friends after their third beer, when they start doing imitations. Face it, kids, your friends aren’t that cool. To get through this night you’re going to need some professional help.

Washington Improv Theater’s “Big Bang: Something from Nothing,” currently on at the D.C. Arts Center in Adams Morgan, certainly bears an appropriate name. It’s improvisation – the troupe members create skits and amusing situations on the spot. At times the group creates precious comic bits out of thin air. At other times, they fall painfully short in their attempts at hilarity. Thus is the nature of the genre.

Each performance showcases the talents of five of WIT’s nine players. This particular night, Topher Bellavia, Katie Carson, Sarah Holt, Margaret Meeker and Mark Raterman created skits. The performances are set in a small black box theater (think Lisner Downstage with nicer chairs) with a roomy, intimate feel.

Bellavia was easily the funniest person in the room, quick with one-liners and funny facial expressions. Carson’s energy level was enough to get the audience laughing in their seats.

The first skit was a debate about Moses’ parting of the Red Sea, a topic provided by an audience member. Hilarity ensued for those too-short minutes. Was Moses actually a woman since he wore a dress? Did he have to tolerate hecklers within his crowd of followers? Did those followers know what was coming or were they “dumbstruck?”

This first skit set the bar, seeming to indicate that the show would yield an hour of exceptional laughs. Unfortunately, none of the other skits quite lived up to the high expectations. Sure, there were amusing bits and hysterical zingers. In one piece, three friends tried to determine if a guy at a bar was gay or straight. When he asked if any of them had a light, they responded, “We all do, who do you want one from?”

What was missing from the show was a higher level of audience interaction. It was no “Whose Line is it Anyway.” This troupe takes audience ideas and rolls with them, more fully exploring their nature. If silly games are your bag, then you and WIT might not make the best fit. If, however, you’re looking for a few good laughs on a Saturday night, WIT is worth the trip into Adams Morgan.

The Washington Improv Theatre Group will be performing March 27-April 12 at DCAC (2438 18 St. NW) Thursday-Saturday 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday 10 p.m., all new formats.

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