Most improv shows travel a predictable course: 1) A performer says something like "Give me a garden implement, a sex act, and a dairy product." 2) Some funny stuff happens, or maybe it doesn't. 3) Everybody goes home mildly amused. BATS Improv certainly does that (and typically well enough for that "some funny stuff" to swell into "damned hilarity!" before the night is through), but it also tackles trickier fare. For instance, at the monthlong Summer Improv Festival, which is now settling into its second week, there's a full-length song-and-dance show called American Musical: Hopes and Dreams of the Working Class. You might be wondering where's the improv in that, but don't think too hard: The cast merely imagines a long-form, Brechtian musical on the spot. It's supposed to be like an instantly conceived Urinetown, unless it's not it's hard to predict such things.
The festival also features such tradition-tweaking bits as The Life Game (Aug. 18), which acts out the life of an audience member, along with the troupe True Fiction Magazine (Aug. 24), which uses the pulp novels of the ´30s and ´40s as fodder. The festival closes with a must for students of improv, with the main ensemble performing "the Harold," a format that was created by famed Second City teacher Del Close in the ´60s. Close trained all the great ones many of his students went onto SNL fame and also Andy Dick.
Aug. 10-26, 8 p.m.