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August 23, 2014

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COMEDY:

Improv theater in new setting, not that it matters

Image

Sam Morris

Improvisational comedy performers, from left, Eric Jeffers, Matt Donnelly, Hillary Boyd and Paul Mattingly put on show April 12 at Bonkerz Comedy Club at Palace Station. Many in the troupe are veterans of the closed Second City show at the Flamingo.

IF YOU GO

What: Improv Vegas

When: 7 p.m. Sundays

Where: Bonkerz Comedy Club inside Palace Station

Tickets: $9.95; palacestation.com/entertainment/bonkerz/

What: “SET”

When: 8 p.m. Mondays

Where: Onyx Theatre, 953 E. Sahara Ave.

Tickets: $7; 732-7725

What: Improv Vegas classes

Price: $200 to $275

More info: 427-0542, improv-vegas.com or [email protected]

Sun Blogs

Fans of improvisational theater were left with a void when Second City closed up shop last summer after more than eight years at the Flamingo.

But remnants of the troupe are still around. Under a different banner, they are keeping alive one of the most difficult art forms.

Improv Vegas recently debuted with Sunday night shows at the Bonkerz Comedy Club inside Palace Station. The rotating cast includes former members of Second City who decided to remain in Vegas.

Improv Vegas also produces a show at the Onyx Theatre on Mondays. “SET” features improv plus standup comedy, juggling and other disciplines and is a showcase for students at the company’s training center, also at the Onyx.

The school, which teaches improv, comedy writing and short-film making, used to be operated by Second City.

“When Second City made the decision to end its run, there was such an outcry from our little improv community,” says Amy Pittle, president of Improv Vegas. “I was the one they turned to to keep it going.”

So when the Chicago-based company closed its show and school, Pittle started a school of her own and now also has the improv show at Bonkerz.

Pittle is a businesswoman, not a performer.

“I’m an administrator,” she says. “I set everything up and take care of the business end of it.”

The native of Scranton, Pa., moved to Vegas 24 years ago and for 18 years worked in casino marketing. Then she started her own consulting company.

“In wanting to improve my own public-speaking skills I discovered the Second City classes,” she says.

Eventually she joined the staff, becoming the producer’s assistant for the 18 months before the end of Second City’s run.

The only connection between Second City and Improv Vegas is historical.

Pittle’s instructors/performers include former Second City cast members Paul Mattingly, Michael Hartnett, Darren Pitrua, Matt Donnelly and Eric Jeffers. Sue Kane, also formerly with Second City, is a performer and manages “SET.” Phil Faiss, a native of Las Vegas, is the company’s creative director and a featured performer. He was a Second City student.

Improv Vegas classes are limited to 10 people. The classes last six weeks, and there are six or seven classes going at any given time.

“We try to accommodate the schedule of the students,” Pittle says.

Students attend for a variety of reasons. Some want to be professional performers, others just want to improve their social skills.

“We get everything from doctors and lawyers to teachers and housewives,” Pittle says.

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