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Real news, biased coverage, big laughs

Improv comedy show satirizes politics

Photo courtesy of Kayla Velasquez

Comedy is one of the most subjective forms of entertainment, and is made even more challenging when unscripted. Denver’s  Metropolis Bovine Theater is clearly up to the task with their new show, Fake Network News.

Styled after cable news programs like Meet the Press and Anderson Cooper 360, Fake Network News is an hour-long show that satirizes the current insanity of America’s political climate.

Since the show is improvised, every performance is different, with some being funnier than others depending on the mood and reaction of the audience.

The small theater only has 70 seats and eight rows, so it lends itself to an intimate experience regardless of the size of the crowd. A stage with the false facade of a door and windows serve as the playground for a group of several comedians who perform for a half-hour, completely unpolitical show to start the night off. Following their part and a short intermission, the “news” begins.

As epic music blares over the speakers and blue and red lights swirl around the stage, an announcer’s voice welcomes the audience to the Fake Network News show and introduces the host for the evening. Dan Wcislo, a Brian Williams-esque man, takes the stage and welcomes all to the FNNews. As the panel of four comedians come out and situate themselves on stools to commentate on what is going on in the world, the host explains the set up.

Before the show, audience members are invited to write down any current political topic they wish, which are then given to the host who cannot look at them prior to taking the stage. As he pulls each card out, the panelists—two representing the right and two the left—must debate the topic without research. On the night of this show, the topics ranged from the Winter Olympics to Murder Bots, universal health care and Zombie Reagan.

At several points throughout the show, the panel clears the stage for a stout field reporter by the name of Rick Rothenberg to come out. Rothenberg entertains with bits such as prank calling a senator, deciphering a made-up graph, and dramatically reading Donald Trump’s tweets aloud.

The level of comedic intensity varies from show to show, as do the jokes themselves, but part of the charm of the event is seeing the improv process. With a cast comprised of entirely amateur actors, the show is much more raw than something seen in a more seasoned improv cast, like a crew from Second City, based in Chicago.

Improv is an entertaining form to watch regardless of how successful it ends up being comedically because it is purely spontaneous creation. The non-professional comics must discover their audience’s taste, what works and what doesn’t, realize when a joke is going nowhere, and find ways to carry on the show no matter what. Seeing that creative process alone is worth the price of admission ($10 at the door, $5 for college students with a valid ID); but luckily the group at the Metropolis Bovine Theater delivers the laughs just as well as they do the “Real Issue. Biased Coverage.”

Fake Network News is performed every Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. now through March 15.

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