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Operocka, LA’s Best Improvised Musical Comedy

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The best improvised musical comedy in Los Angeles
The best improvised musical comedy in Los Angeles

Okay, I admit it. “Improvised musical comedy” is not only a mouthful, it’s pretty darn specific too. But this is Los Angeles, and if you can’t find a certain uber specific form of entertainment here, then mostly likely, you can’t find it anywhere. Truth be told, there are lots of comedy driven musical shows and acts here but I’m going to leave the scripted Garfunkel and Oates types out for now, and stick to the “made up on the spot” requisite.  Considering that requirement, there are also shows like UCB’s Soundtrack!, where you bring your iPod and watch some mind blowing improvisation to the tune of your very own playlist,  but this too will also be disqualified as there is no singing.

Bearing in mind these conditions, there is one show that, in my humble opinion, reigns supreme; Operocka at iO West in Hollywood. Doesn’t suprise me though. Mama Birschbach likes her musicals with a little more edge, so naturally her musical improvisation would follow suit. A school boy suit to be exact, like Angus Young. And maybe I’m on a highway to hell, but I like ’em dirty, you know what I’m sayin’?  A little less show tuney, and a little more rock and roll-uney. That was a horribly contrived ryhme but my point is,  rock and roll is what Operocka all about.  It’s website will tell you that Operocka:

is a live improvised Rock Opera in the vein of The Who’s Tommy, Rent and Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Based on one suggestion, the group will improvise a full rock opera in which everything is sung. And it’s not just boring songs… we’re talking rock and roll.

Bow tie was the suggestion for the show I recently attended. I won’t get into every detail that followed, but the first song outta the gate set up a big up-and-coming prom in angst-ridden, steamy musicality. A prom in which one of the characters would surely DIE… Awesome. A death at prom? If only they had been this exciting when I was in high school…

I’ve seen a billion improv shows, and I certainly have my favorite groups. But eventually, even despite their brilliance,  I’ll experience burn out with those favorites. For some reason though, that doesn’t happen with Operocka. Maybe it’s the excitement in the music. Maybe it’s the lovable personalities of it’s immensly talented performers. But I think it’s because this show has soul. Soul in how it sounds, and soul in what it delivers…

Go see Operocka, y’all. They’ve been around for over a year and I have a feeling they’ll be around for a lot longer, but go see them soon anyway. They’ve just been nominated for a Del Close Award for Best Improvised Non-Harold Show. They’re at the iO West in Hollywood every other Friday at 10 pm.  More details on their site, here.