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Arts and Entertainment

Show Review: Tuesday Nights at iO West

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iO West in Hollywood. Photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

Lately, at iO West on Tuesday nights, a strange thing has been happening: they’ve been stacking the deck. With Monday nights as their cream-of-the-crop Armando shows and Saturdays reserved for Beer Shark Mice or some other formidable team, it would be entirely possible for iO to experience a bit of the mid-week improv doldrums. But instead, with the last three Harold Competition champion teams running back-to-back-to-back, Tuesdays at iO are becoming a great go-to for improv in Los Angeles.

First up to bat at 9p is Local 132 and the USS Rock N Roll, two formidable teams with a strong improv mind and a love of all things Harold. Local won the 2007 iO West Harold Competition as a relatively unknown team, and have been bouncing around on the mainstage calendar ever since. Their fast-paced, youthful energy are a welcome addition to an iO landscape that can sometimes cater to a slightly older crowd.

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USS Rock N Roll, on the other hand, is the current champion after battling through several weeks and many great teams in the 2009 iO West Harold Competition. What really makes these guys shine is their proficiency to play inside the Harold, and really form a fluid show without any noticeable hiccups or miscues. Their shows are always a pleasure, and they have some of the best team chemistry going. And to think, that’s just the 9 o’clock slot.

Then -and get this- it just keeps coming. That’s what I mean when I say that iO is stacking the deck on Tuesday nights. They barely give you enough time to breathe (don’t worry you’ve still got plenty of time to grab another $3 PBR) before they saunter on into the 10p slot, with another hour of competition-winning Harolds. Rounding out the winning trifecta is Powerhouse, last year’s champions. Perhaps more than any other team in the 9-11p lineup, Powerhouse seems to be having the most fun on stage. This night they were welcoming back improv all-star Brian Gallivan, who had been on hiatus. The level of pure play they brought to the stage, with a Travis Henry-like willingness to support, is simply unmatched.

And the big finale? Sweetness, an absolutely stacked team who isn’t afraid to outrun any of the trophy horses on the Tuesday night track. With Jim Woods and Suzy Barrett leading a stellar group of seasoned comedians, this team is absolute top-of-your-intelligence gold. Now, that’s not to say things can’t get a little racy on stage, but there’s always a moment, flash in the pan bit of knowledge and specificity, that you don’t always find in other shows around town. And that level of commitment to craft is the perfect way to end a great night of Harold long form improv comedy in Hollywood.

No matter what shows you frequent around town. it’s great to see longtime standouts iO West not slacking off on a Tuesday night. It’s easy to do, when your bread and butter can be found on other nights, but the Harolds here are among the best you’ll find around town. And that, for the audience, is always a good thing.

iO West
6366 Hollywood Blvd.
Harolds start at 9p and run until 11p, Tuesday nights.