Love and Laughs on Thursdays in Ferndale

Donald V. Calamia

Ferndale's newest hotspot is on a roll. Recently named Best Comedy Club by both Metro Times and Real Detroit Weekly, Go Comedy! Improv Theater has quickly become the region's home for quality improvisational comedy.

With unbridled enthusiasm and bucketloads of talent, Go Comedy's locally based improvisers prove time and again that every imaginable topic is subject to scrutiny, and that major laughs can be mined from the mundane to the uncomfortable - and everything in-between.

It's a philosophy that serves the theater well, especially on Thursday nights. Once filled with back-to-back, make-it-up-as-you-go improv shows, Go Comedy! is now devoting much of the evening to original scripted comedies created by some of the area's best and brightest talent. That certainly describes the cast and creators of its very funny second effort, "Love and Other Urban Legends," that had its official premiere May 14.

A revue-style comedy, "Love and Other Urban Legends" explores the trials and tribulations of love and dating as seen through the eyes and lives of three long-time, 30-something friends who meet weekly for breakfast to catch up on each others' lives. Each is scarred from a lifetime of experience: Beautiful Liz (Anne Faba) chases all the wrong men (and could be pregnant by one of them); "big-boned" Shannon (Suzie Jacokes) settled for her geeky, unpopular high school boyfriend; and still-single Craig (Marke Sobolewski) relates to romance and relationships through his favorite movies.

As the three catch up on their most recent escapades, flashbacks reveal the defining moments of their lives - from an eighth grade dance where a clueless Shannon tries to profess her love to a totally uninterested Craig (who's still safely ensconced in the closet), to the heart-to-heart talk Craig has with his mother that reveals far more family history than he wants - or needs - to hear. And what they discover is this: that their actions in the past have serious consequences in the present, yet it's never too late to change the future.

"Love and Other Urban Legends" is yet another fine example of what Detroit's improv community does best: It tells compelling human interest stories, but from a unique and funny perspective. And while their topics and dialogue might be a bit raw or shocking to those weaned on the more polished or cerebral works of established mainstream playwrights, comedies such as this offer a much-needed platform to a street-level generation of young and energetic artists. They, too, have equally important things to say - particularly about their lives in the turbulent 21st century - and as a result, some of the most creative, innovative and refreshing (although rarely the slickest) works in the area are happening these days on the stages of theaters such as Go Comedy!

The script, written by Faba and Jacokes with Sobolewski, calls upon all three actors to play multiple roles. While each is fine with their primary role, Jacokes, a graduate of Wayne State's theater program, is especially skilled at creating believable secondary characters, most notably as Jack, Liz's undesirable boyfriend. And a powerful scene in which Shannon and her soon-to-be ex-husband finally have an honest discussion proves her range and versatility as an actress.


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