improvisational comedy is all about flying by the seat
of one’s pants, then Durango DOT comedy has wisely
chosen its onstage uniform: overalls.
And although some of
the female cast members disdain the baggy attire, all
agree it serves its purpose— allowing cast member
to seamlessly slip in and out of roles without distracting
and unifying,” said member Tim Zink, a mild-mannered
employee of the Southern Ute Tribe’s Growth Fund
course, all mild manners, reservations and inhibitions
are checked at the door on show night. And the backstage
scene at Scoot n’ Blues, where the troupe holds
bimonthly shows, is a little like walking into a room
full of, well, comics – with jokes and general ribbing
taking precedence. Conspicuously absent, however, are
the whoopee cushions, rainbow wigs and fake barf one might
expect from a group of small-time jokesters. In fact,
other than one skit that involves role playing with funny
hats, props are nonexistent in the DOT comedy repertoire.
Rather, chemistry is
the glue they rely on to hold the show together. For that
reason, each prospective member must go through an audition
before he or she is allowed to don the hallowed denim
“They go through
some serious hazing,” said founding father Jonathon
Hunt, who refused to divulge details other than to say
it involves cocktail condiments and body parts. Hunt,
a former member of Spitting Nonsense, another local comedy
group, branched off with fellow nonsense members Darrin
Stevens and Michael Jordan (both real names) to form Durango
DOT comedy last winter.
one who started it, so it’s my fault,” said
after forming, the loosely based group of seven took to
honing its skills, rehearsing and performing for fund-raisers,
including the Silver Peak Awards in March – a gig
that is still haunting the DCAT airwaves, Hunt says. The
group’s first official show under the Durango DOT
comedy banner took place – appropriately enough
– on April Fool’s Day.
“We had been rehearsing
for two months and figured what better time for a comedy
group to strut their stuff than April Fool’s Day,”
said Sarah St. John, the group’s first female member.
Looking to expand, in
May the players put out a casting call, which garnered
two more players.
Auditionee Mark Brown,
of Pagosa Springs, said he stumbled upon the troupe’s
classified ad in the personals section by chance and instantly
knew it was for him. “I never read the personals,”
he said. “But for some reason I read them that day,
and these guys had an ad, and I said, ‘I gotta do
Brown, who formerly
worked with the Pretenders, a family-improv group in Pagosa,
said the new group was an instant fit for his skills.
And while being able to hang with the group and dish out
as much as you’re willing to take is all important,
Zink says the key is to make the camaraderie work on stage
as well as off.
“We get together
once a week to get comfortable with each other and learn
each other’s style,” he said. “It takes
practice to be spontaneous.”
And being comfortable
with one another can definitely come in handy when, say,
acting out a co-ed bathroom scene from “Mission:
Impossible” or hijacking three men on a unicycle
with a pretend rubber chicken.
only goes so far in a profession that’s largely
at the mercy of the audience, which usually has the creative
benefit of a few cocktails. The players, who perform about
a dozen skits or games per show, rely on audience input
to set the scene, often with bizarre (a man with a pet
sea cucumber that he keeps in his pocket) and humorous
(poking fun of our less worldly neighbors to the east
in Pueblo) results.
And that is exactly
what improv is all about, said Tara Ivy Sheehan, a Fort
Lewis College theater major and recent inductee.
“You just say
whatever comes out of your head,” she said.
Although this includes
a fair share of bathroom jokes and references to the human
anatomy, this is not to say the subject matter is entirely
frivolous. In fact, the players are not afraid to tackle
some of the weightier issues of the day (safe sex and
same-sex couples) and lampoon figures in the news (George
W. and catholic priests are favorite targets.)
In fact, it could be
said the DOT comedians take the business of being funny
The troupe is currently
entertaining ideas of entering an upcoming improv competition
in Chicago or taking in a few workshops.
to see what other improv groups do,” Zink said.
But in the meantime,
they have kept their day jobs (all but one of them, that
is) while managing to also keep perspective.
original work in progress,” said St. John. “We
just want to make enough money to be able to rent out
a space for us to perform in; we’ll do weddings,
But this doesn’t
mean they don’t dream large.
“We want to go
big,” said Brown. “We wanna do Cortez, Telluride