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When: Fri., Feb. 28, 10:30 p.m., Fri., March 14, 10:30 p.m. and Fri., April 4, 10:30 p.m. 2014

Michael Patrick Thornton has a talent for lowering the mundane into the bleak, morbid, and unsavory. On the night I attended his two-person improv show, he and guest Susan Messing declined to solicit audience suggestions. Lord knows they didn't need help dredging up lumps of human spirit as sorry as they come: a pair of former high school buddies dolefully recognizing that they're probably gay or might as well be; a stroke patient (Messing's facial contortions were something to marvel at) who implores her doctor to shoot her in the face on Christmas. Thornton's red-rimmed eyes and halting Russian accent were so convincing I wanted to weep with him instead of laugh—almost. He picks a new guest every other week, on off-weeks sharing this slot with the rest of the Natural Gas improv crew. —Jena Cutie

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