The Armando Diaz Experience, Theatrical Movement & Hootenanny, ImprovOlympic.
Every time I think nothing new can be done with long-form improvisation, a show comes along to remind me just how inspired and entertaining pure improv can be when performed by the right people in the right circumstances. A year ago Second City's Lois Kaz renewed my faith. And last week Improv-Olympic's The Armando Diaz Experience did it again.
Of course we are talking about many of the same improvisers who made up Lois Kaz--David Koechner, Theresa Mulligan, Miriam Tolan, Brian Stack, Noah Gregoropoulos (who also directed Lois Kaz). Plus a few others--Jim Carrane, Matt Besser, Pete Zahradnick--who have shone in other shows.
Each step of the way--from Ed to Jazz Freddy to Lois Kaz to Armando Diaz--these performers have become sharper, smarter, and more self-assured, until now they can create with the subtlest gestures and the simplest bits of dialogue believable, funny characters in compelling situations: a shy girl in love with a loudmouth, a roommate mourning his dead friend, a son who's too much like his father. The fully improvised two-act performance is molded around the likable ramblings of monologuist Armando Diaz, but it's the pure improvisation that makes this show fly.