The whistle can be a little loud inside this second-floor barroom with a view in the Cabo Wabo Cantina. But you wouldn’t want to be without it.
It’s a lot easier to start than finish an improv comedy sketch. Even the written sketches of “Saturday Night Live” can be going fine until it’s time to end them. If you lean away from improv, it can be because of that horrible stall when everyone knows a bit has gone on long enough, but no one knows quite how to get out of it.
And so, Kopy (aka Nicolas Kopatich) has a fine-tuned ear in his role as ringmaster, riding herd on the six young “Party Improv” comedians, divided into token teams of three. He knows how to put the cap on a “game” by sounding his referee’s whistle at just the right moment.
The comedians pretend to be different kinds of wedding rings vying for the attentions of an engaged couple. You have “the one ring to rule them all” (Brandon Green) and “the purity ring” (Brent Mukai): “Look at him and tell me you haven’t thought about not having sex with him.”
But the last one up? “I am Molly Ringwald.” Whistle. What more could Spenser DeWees add?
Then there’s the scene where the six improvisers scatter to sit amid the audience while Kopy stays onstage as the mayor of a small town, helming a debate over a problem chosen by the audience: buttons.
We hear the pros and cons of buttons from the likes of Stephen Hawking (Nina Renee Valdez). After “Herbert the local town pervert” (Green) has expressed dismay that buttons keep women’s clothes on, “the town thespian” (Aubrey Jacobs) proves buttons are a choking hazard.
“I know CPR!” the perv exclaims, lunging for her chest. Whistle. Perfect.
But sometimes that whistle brings a merciful end, as it did with this troupe’s version of the “interrogation” game that always anchored The Second City’s run at the Flamingo. Two improvisers are sent out of the room, then come back to piece together information supplied by the audience in their absence.
Here, Green and Kopy had just about wrapped it all up in a cozy 10 minutes, but Kopy couldn’t quite get that his ex-wife with a beard looked like Benjamin Franklin. He got the Franklin part just fine, but his cast had to play charades to piece together “look.”
Self whistle. “Three minutes on the word ‘look.’ I’m sorry,” he told the crowd.
No worries. By then we were all on board. All of the above played funnier in the moment than it reads now, as improv tends to be something that lives in the moment.
It’s as much about the camaraderie between the performers and audience as it is about the jokes, and this is a fun bunch. They even offer to stick around and drink with the audience after the show.
And this being the only improv show on the Strip, you don’t have to worry about a redundant format. Viewers of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” will recognize most of the basic setups. But the night’s best bit was this troupe’s an original take on “The Newlywed Game” that blends in a real couple from the audience.
It’s also a good fit for this second-floor room at the Cabo, and an option that should move into a high spot on that only-in-Vegas list that locals call, “Oh God I Have More Visitors Coming to Town and Don’t Know Where to Take Them.”
Here, you’re still taking them to the Strip to do something unusual on a budget, without subjecting yourself to touristy degredations. The big picture windows come with a view of sunset behind the Bellagio, or its fountain show. The room is cozy, with tables and a sofa or two, and Kopy even pulls the bartenders into the action (three tiers of ticket pricing are based on how much drinking you plan to do).
And tourists? You can feel a little like a local. Kopy’s Jest Serendipity troupe has worked off-Strip at the Alexis Park for 12 years. Watching two septic-tank cleaners (Mukai and Spiro Siavelis) sing their way through a job is a fun alternative to stand-up. But Mike Krasner opened with a brief stand-up set too, just in case you felt deprived.
Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0288.