We attended the Chicago Improv All-Stars show at Henry’s last night … and we enjoyed ourselves. It kind of had the feel of a theme party at a friend’s house (assuming that friend was very popular, brewed their own beer, had a very large living room with poorly placed pillars, was bad at training their staff and charged guests RMB 280 at the door). If you have ever seen an episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, then you have a pretty good idea of how the Chicago Improv All-Stars is organized — a series of improv skits or games, with lots of audience interaction (the embedded video is an example from last night).
Updating our previous post about the show, here’s a little more info about the four-person troupe performing in Shanghai again tonight (and then three times in Beijing). The improv actors are:
The first two are married and the second two appear in a relatively new NBC show called Sports Action Team (official site). Perhaps the writers strike has given them some time off for an Asian excursion. Local pianist Steve Sweeting, who is not as blurry in person as he is in the above video, provided the music for the show.
As we said, it was a fun night. Our only real gripes about the evening are related to the venue. Honestly, after our initial enthusiasm, we’re surprised Henry’s is still open. The brewery’s brewmaster (the one still pictured in the menu) left the place quite a while ago, we believe. And the staff just didn’t seem up to the task last night — understandable, we suppose, since they aren’t used to having a crowd in the place. It was hard to get the attention of the waitstaff, they got orders wrong, prices were all over the map, etc., etc. And the space itself isn’t very conducive to watching something on a stage — there are four huge pillars that always seem to get in the way. We were kind of confused about the meal situation, as well. We had read that food wasn’t included, but it seemed people had vouchers for free meals. It was a moot point for us anyway, because around 20 minutes to showtime (when we arrived) there were no seats left at tables (that weren’t behind a pillar). So we didn’t eat and sat near the front, which ended up being a good move. (If you plan on going tonight and eating — get there early, or make a reservation).
And yes, RMB 280 may be a little steep (if a meal is not included), but it’s the only game in town. And we all need a little laughter in our lives. Let’s hope the Chopschticks guys find a better venue for future shows — anyone got any suggestions?
Chicago Improv All-Stars, presented by Baby Wants Candy, Friday, December 7 at Henry’s Brewery and Grill, 33 Sichuan Zhong Lu 1/F, near Yan’an Dong Lu (上海市外滩四川中路33号1楼北厅 创业大厦内). Show at 8 pm. Tickets RMB 280 at the door.