Richmond Famous: A Retrospective On Their Retrospective
Historic Jackson Ward plays host to a talented group of individuals twice a month – The Richmond Comedy Coalition (RCC). The group plays their part in the revitalization of one of Richmond’s most historic neighborhoods by breathing new life into the community through laughter. On the stage of Gallery 5 comes their latest show entitled Richmond Famous.
In the beginning
I was fortunate enough to attend the Richmond Famous show guest starring Jeff Kelley, Editor of Tobacco Ave. I arrived on time to find Gallery 5 standing room only. The crowds centered around the bar while drinks loosened their funny bones. I found a spot on the wall to lean against as I waited for the show to begin.
David Pijor opened and immediately engaged the group with synchronized clapping to welcome Jeff Kelley on stage. Kelley proceeded to share 3 stories from his past. Unexpectedly, none of them had to do with how he became, as they call it, Richmond Famous. The first story told of his rummaging through a collection of items, CDs, etc. The second told of his likeness in appearance to a sex offender in his neighborhood. Lastly, he described a near death experience on a plane. The stories, or monologues, alone were well worth the ticket cost. They produced plenty of laughs and quickly captured the attention of the audience. They were well rehearsed and executed.
Kelley’s role as the guest star in the Richmond Famous series was obvious. What the RCC would do next was the mystery. Would they reenact the exact story, take audience suggestions or use an overall theme? In a way, they did all of the above.
Let there be light (cameras and action)
After each story that Kelley shared, The RCC jumped right into action. They went on in groups or pairs using a theme from Kelley’s story to create a short scene. Characters were quickly set-up in the scenes, reused when possible and incorporated into other scenes to make more comprehensive short stories.
Story 1: Katie Holcomb takes charge in a futuristic adaptation of Kelley’s story. In their best robot voices, the group discovers a time capsule. The contents of the time capsule act as the catalyst for scenes to develop or change. Mandy Butler and Zach Arnold emerge as a couple; a role they maintain throughout most of the night. Matt Newman and David Pijor support the futuristic robot theme while Aaron Grant burst into a song by Matchbox Twenty.
Story 2: Kelley’s story of a sex offender translates into a sodomy themed scene. Pijor and Butler struggle in their marriage because of Pijor’s tootsie roll sized goods. The story later evolves to include Butler attempting to convince her neighbors, Newman and Holcomb, that she has a tootsie roll of her own. Meanwhile Grant and Newman push the limits of a sex offender site, transforming it into a dating site of sorts.
Story 3: Arnold and Butler board a plane in a scene that threatens their life, not by plane malfunction, but by a bootylicious bottom – da bomb. Halcomb, Newman and Pijor take laughter to its highest of the night with a “Can you smell that?” routine, having almost nothing to do with Kelley’s last story. It was my favorite scene, by far.
And it was good
In the end, it was indeed good. The RCC made improv look easy. They proved to have a great read on the audience: tapping each other out of scenes that were overstaying their welcome and milking scenes that were well received. Superb talent produced an extraordinary show while, at the same time, enticing audience members to sign-up for improv classes themselves. Overall, two thumbs up.
Catch their next Richmond Famous show at Gallery 5 on Jan 14th, 2011 at 8:00 p.m. The next famous Richmonder to be featured is our own Kevin Clay, Editor and Publisher of GayRVA.com.
Born and raised in Richmond, VA, Stanley works as an IT professional and a Group X fitness instructor. He enjoys helping others achieve their fitness goals through his spin and other high energy classes. Read his personal blog here and follow him on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Comedy, drag queen boxing, and arts & culture. Just another weekend in GayRVA.June 23, 2011
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