Today in therapy, I mentioned SAK Comedy Lab in passing and I got a rush of sad because there hasn’t been a Brawl in forever.
The Brawl at Sak Comedy Lab was my literal favorite thing about living in Orlando for a very long time.
It meant summertime had arrived (even though it was ALWAYS summer in Florida).
Every Friday night our crew (which was sometimes just Mickey and me, but others we had a crew of multiple rows) would head downtown to nosh and cocktail before being the first people to arrive to the Brawl.
Me being me, I had a very specific seat I felt comfortable in at SAK. In the front row, left, second from the aisle.
I know what you might be thinking, “Front row at a comedy show? No thank you, sir.”
And normally I’d agree with you. Stand up comics can be bitey and mean. And that can be fun sometimes… especially at roasts.
But improv comics are there to fucking ENTERTAIN.
And the Brawlers were the best of it.
Every time while waiting for the Brawl to begin, I’d poke my companion in the side and, point at the screen that’s displaying a slideshow, and whisper, “Is this a Prezi?” even if they don’t have a clue why I’m asking.
Now, I believe the incredible Mike Carr came up with the idea, but I am not 100% sure.
He 100% was the host with the most, though.
It was a double-elimination-style comedy competition where teams of 2 or 3 (and in one very incredible performance, a single human) improved at each other.
And, at the end of the night? A winner was declared and moved on to the next round.
Seems simple and straightforward, right?
I haven’t yet mentioned my favorite part:
THE TEAMS WERE THEMED.
You know your girl LOVES a good theme.
Here is a short bulleted list of some of my favorites:
- Dope: The Musical!
- The Three Judys
- The Vamprovisors
- Distraction…by Calvin Klein
- The Orphans
- Fairies and Sh&t
- Your Mom!
- The Olympians for Dionysys alone, who would drink from a bag of wine held aloft above his head during the performances.
Oh yeah, I didn’t mention my favorite part… not only were the teams themed, but they also had to perform within that theme throughout the Brawl.
I definitely haven’t laughed as hard since the Brawl. Just thinking about the wildness of this one team, “Designated Improviser”, brings back happy, out of control laughter feelings. Not memories, because I didn’t tell enough stories about what happened on stage, but I remember laughing harder than I ever had in my life.
See? The Designated Improvisor only performed one night of the Brawl, in a tour de force, out of control performance.
On that team, two of the members were drinking, irresponsible (but hysterical) messes, and the other? Well, they were the Designated Improvisor. They were tasked with holding the whole thing together. And the other two took their job SERIOUSLY.
Now, this wouldn’t have worked with a more unskilled team, but these were three of the best improv performers SAK had to offer. I remember cry-laughing and I really wish I could remember what was so funny.
They didn’t win that night and I suspect it was because I don’t think they could keep it up. I think the plan was to rotate the improviser vs drinkers each show, and I’m sad I never got to see it. (but happy for their livers and states of mind, tbh.)
But I can’t talk about the Brawl without mentioning my absolute favorite team of all time, Dan Francisco. They walked out to the Full House theme, wore dad sweaters and did the best straight/crooked man comedy I have ever seen in my LIFE.
Fransico is an incredibly gifted physical comedian who could get the audience going with a raise of his eyebrow. And Dan? Well, Dan is the perfect straightman.
Ugh the Brawl was my favorite. My Brawl crew was pretty stellar too. It could be any variety of people, coworkers, friends, family members, people we met at the bar before the show who had to see what I would not shut up about, so many neat people.
And then afters we’d go hang at the same bar the cast did, because I am a dork and I love surrounding myself with creative people.
So, in therapy today as I was talking about the things I’ll miss about living somewhere other than Orlando (oh yeah we are moving – more to come on that soon!), this was top of my mind, so I wrote about it so that I can remember it better!
Thanks for reading! <3