Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog


A Bargain at twice the price

Start with Second City, throw in a scoop of Monty Python, add a dash of grits and you have Einstein Simplified, an improv comedy troupe in Knoxville. (That e on the end of troupe adds class to this blog. Goodness knows it needs it!)

I went to see Einstein Simplified at their regular gig at Patrick Sullivan's Saloon in the Olde City. (I'm just dripping with class, ain't I?) The show is on the third floor, starts at 8:30 and runs until about 10:00 give or take a few minutes. Admission is free, but the group does ask for tips at the end of the night.

You might want to get there a little early. I showed up about 8:15, and most of the tables were full. I found an unused table in the back, and dragged it to the backk of the crowd, swiped an unused seat, and I was in business. I sipped my coke, and checked out the crowd while I waited for the show to start. There were about 50-60 people there, mostly UT students, but some older folks were scattered through the audience.

The show began shortly after 8:30, with the entire company taking the stage. One member acts as MC, running the show while the rest performs the games. If you've seen Whose Line Is It Anyway, either the BBC or US versions, you know how the show goes. What you may not know is that taping for Whose Line runs anywhere from 2 to 3 hours. The tape is then edited to get the best thirty minutes. Einstein Simplified doesn't have that luxury. They work live, without a net. Fortunately, the guys are up to the task. The audience is called on to provide locations, topics, actions, whatever the MC needs to set up the performers.

The show is certainly not a family show, which is fitting, since it's held in a Saloon, after all. There are no mikes, but since the room isn't all that big, hearing isn't a problem, unless you're next to some guy trying to pick up a girl during the show. Who tries to pick up women at a comedy club anyway? I know girls all say they like guys who make them laugh, but have you ever seen a comedian chased down the street by his groupies?

The guys were all sharp, and up to the challenges of live improv comedy. Wes, the token tall guy, has a mind that operates at a 90 bend to reality. When asked to make a joke about prima donnas, he made a joke about pre-Madonnas. Paul is a virtual clone of Michael Jeter, and is just as funny. One of his best bits was as an old man, remembering the past "When I was a young man, the snap of a rubber glove didn't scare me." In comedy, it's a rule of thumb that when in doubt, you go for the dick joke. Last night, Bill was in doubt a lot. Frank unveiled a singing voice fit for the Met; not the Opera House, the ball field. Brad, who is best described as "value sized" got off the best quip of the night when the MC, in order to hurry him along, shouted that there was a stripper in the cake. Brad quickly replied, "There's cake?" Justin was the MC, and Todd was there too. Sorry Todd, I know you got a good bit or two in last night, but my cat ate my PDA, and I had to rely on memory instead of notes for this review. I'll make it up to you next time...

Each game lasts 5-10 minutes, and the show passes quickly. Before you know it, the house lights come up, and the MC is passing around the tip jar. The show is free, and worth every penny; I even tipped 15%. I felt guilty about stiffing the guys, so I came home to write this review.

If you ever get to Knoxville on a Tuesday, go see the guys of Einstein Simplified, and enjoy some good improv. They're funnier than you are, and will tell you so at the end of the show.

That's it! Todd plays a mean acoustic guitar...

By the way, the rude guy utterly failed to pick up the girl. There is justice in the world.
Posted by Rich
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