Last month, I went to The Town Hall theatre to check out TJ & Dave for the first time. You comedy fans out there may have heard of these guys. I hadn’t until my improv class instructor told us about them. TJ Jagodowski and Dave Pasquesi are a comedy duo, performing together since the early 2000s. Master improvisers, their shows entail the two of them making up a one-hour play on the spot. Yup, a whole play. Just TJ, Dave, and three chairs. Their tagline is, “trust us, this is all made up.”
After doing a little research, I realized I knew these two individually but not as a team. TJ you might recognize from the Sonic commercials. And Dave was Stew on the forever-fabulous “Strangers with Candy” which aired on Comedy Central back in 1999. If you know me personally, you’ve likely heard me quote this gem of a show starring Amy Sedaris, Paul Dinello, and Stephen Colbert (maybe you’ve heard of him?). Dave played the butcher who Jerri Blank’s mother is having an affair with. The show is crazy, weird, and offensive. I highly recommend it.
But I digress. Back to TJ & Dave’s show! They were great. It feels silly to tell you about the story since it will never exist again. What surprised me was that it wasn’t just funny but also ended up being quite an insightful portrayal of human behavior. You can immediately identify with these characters (or you’ve at least met someone like them). It’s realistic, relatable, and sometimes has moments so perfect that it’s hard to believe it was made up that second. Their pacing, introduction of new characters (there were eight in this show), and the right usage of callbacks (references/shout-outs to earlier jokes) were super cool to witness. Plus I appreciated that they weren’t afraid to sit in silence at times. It got me all the more excited to take Level 2 at Magnet Theater, in which we start to study long form improv.
TJ & Dave are in the city occasionally, but their home base is Chicago, so if you find yourselves out there, look ‘em up! I think Colbert says it best, “”One of these guys is the best improviser in the world. And the other one is better.”
Just a quick note.
This was my first time seeing a mainstage production at Second City. When I went the first time in 2007 while on tour, I think I saw a random improv class and I can’t say I enjoyed myself. This visit was a little better planned, and I went with a couple friends while in town a few weeks ago. And my lord, I don’t remember the last time I laughed so hard, so consistently.
The show is a mix of sketch comedy and improvisation, seamlessly intertwined and acted by six fantastic performers. It’s topical, political, and stupidly funny. Every sketch is more delightful than the last.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get nervous watching improv. I get very uncomfortable if a scene or performer is bombing. But during this performance, I was never once worried for the actors. They knew what they were doing at all times. Even if a moment wasn’t funny, it would work its way around to paying off. Everything eventually landed. And I was able to just sit back and let the professionals do their thing.
Long story long, my face hurt from laughing for over two and a half hours. And I could have stayed for another two.
Let Them Eat Chaos
Written by Edgar Blackmon, Ross Bryant, Holly Laurent, Tawny Newsome, Katie Rich, and Steve
Waltien, Directed by Matt Hovde
The Second City
Photo Credit: Clayton Hauck
Pictured: Steve Waltien, Holly Laurent, Edgar Blackmon, Ross Bryant, Tawny Newsome, Katie Rich