By Ian Perrotta
There’s something funny going on at the Planet Ant Theatre in Hamtramck.
It’s not the name or the funky purple paint job, either. Except for holidays, every Monday at 8 p.m. the venue on Caniff has hosted its very own improv comedy night. It’s a tradition that is still going strong, and for five dollars you can treat yourself to a night of laughs that are on par — or better — than anything you’ll find on TV.
The dynamic show features a revolving door of cast members from week to week. Broken into three acts, the first performance is by a guest improv team. During this act, the performers take suggestions from the audience to form the basis of their story. They then improvise a humorous scene that often involves hilarious situations and on-the-spot wordplay. Because each performance is dictated by the audience, no two are alike and they are almost impossible to recreate.
The second performance is set up like the first, only it is done by the home team, which includes performers affiliated with Planet Ant Theatre. Over 20 members comprise the home team, and usually between five and seven members rotate in-and-out of the scenes. The audience gets a chance to name the team, and the winner gets a special treat from co-artistic director Jamie Moyer.
After the separate teams perform, the third act is what is known as the “AntJam.” At this time the audience is encouraged to participate in various improv comedy games. The event proves to be so popular that sometimes there are as many people on-stage participating as there are watching in the audience. With the skillful guidance of the veteran performers, even the most inexperienced can feel comfortable joining in the fun.
Moyer sums it up best: “It costs less than a movie ticket and it’s live entertainment in your backyard. What more could you want?”
If anyone out there that does crave more, Planet Ant Theatre also offers scripted performances. The next show is titled “One Flea Spare” and explores what happens when class structure breaks down during a quarantine for the Plague in London during the year 1665. It was written by Naomi Wallace and will be directed by Shannon Ferrante. “One Flea Spare” premieres Friday Oct. 2 at 8 p.m.
For more information and for a schedule of performances visit www.planetant.com.