Ugly Jack | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Ugly Jack, Nedwak Productions, at TinFish Theatre. Words to the wise: renting a professional space does not equate to mounting a professional production. Also, improv needs to be funny. Too bad no one told this troupe of neo-neo-neophytes before they launched this painfully vapid evening of "music-informed long form freestyle improv," fed by interviews with and CDs contributed by the audience. In this instance, the subject was "cookies." OK, there's some comic potential--Cookie Monster, toss your cookies, Internet identity-thieving cookies. But most of it was left on the table. Three audience volunteers (myself included) consented to answer such deep, probing questions as "So, do you like dessert?" Another hint: Watch Letterman, learn something. Lori Wagner salaciously licking creamy Oreo centers--in between too many mugging faces and drunken laughs--was about as interesting as it got.

Those who crack up when someone says "penis," "balls," or "butt" will probably get some good laughs. Everyone else will most likely stare straight ahead wishing they were home watching Big Brother. Although there were a few sparks of something approaching ingenuity--Alexander "Sandy" Bilus shows some talent for developing characters on the fly, and Andy Kostrub has some decent quips--they were sparks that indicate these beginners should continue practicing. At this point, some final advice: take another class, don't quit your you-know-what, and don't charge people to watch you do your homework.

--Kim Wilson

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