For the longest time, the only improv comedy troupe in San Antonio, The Denials, has been operating out of The Overtime Theater on Saturday nights.
Sure, there are a few open mic nights around town, and the LOL Comedy Club and the Rivercenter Comedy Club are good for a few laughs, but it's just not the same. Improv is a special brand of comedy, and once you get a taste for it, you're hooked!
Thankfully, there's even more of it in San Antonio now, with the introduction of Alamo City Improv.
Alamo City Improv — Photo courtesy of Scott McDowell / Alamo City Improv
If you're not familiar with improv, it's often associated with the style of comedy you may have seen on the popular TV show Who's Line is it, Anyway? It usually focuses on short, fast-paced games that require audience interaction.
For example, they might ask the audience for a favorite cartoon or kid's cereal, and then the troupe takes this seed of inspiration to create original comedy.
One of the most unique things about improv is that no two shows are ever alike. Unlike sketch comedy, plays and the like – which require the actors to learn lines – improv is truly improvisational comedy, and it relies on the quick wits of the actors or improvians, as they're called.
Improv actors do, however, require practice. And that's where Cary Farrow IV comes in.
Farrow – who comes from The Denials' team and still works with them – is now spearheading a new improv troupe called Alamo City Improv, which performs for the public every Friday night at 9 p.m. Admission costs $5, which is not much to support a burgeoning comedy scene!
The shows are held at a comedy club called Blind Tiger, inside the Magic Time Machine restaurant, located in the center of the city.
Farrow has made it his personal mission to expand the improv comedy scene in San Antonio, which has had trouble gaining a foothold here. Improv is much more popular in Houston, Dallas and even Austin, where they have several improv theaters that perform nightly.
"San Antonio is still relatively naive to improv, but little by little, they're learning about it," says Farrow, who left San Antonio for a bit to train with the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Los Angeles, the most esteemed improv school in the country. "I would love for other successful improv theaters to come to San Antonio and make the culture thrive."
What's on Farrow's wish list for comedy in San Antonio?
"One thing they do in L.A. that we can’t do right now is cage matches," he explains.
Cage matches are essentially battles where improv troupes compete with each other for laughs.
Although there's not enough talent and audience to support that in San Antonio yet, Farrow's working hard to train up-and-coming comedians so that eventually improv will finally get the respect it deserves in the city.