Currently there are several different improv theaters vying for attention. With so many located in such a small area things can get quite competitive. Sure, talented folks exist at them all (whether you want to admit it or not). And, all have excellent shows at least one night of the week. However, that isn’t enough to draw in an audience anymore.
Most theaters use the promotion tactic of “Look at the famous people our theater has taught and represented!” Now, of course that is a great marketing tool, but we’re at the point where ALL of the theaters have a significant number of successful comedians, so it really isn’t enough to make an improv theater stand out anymore.
Personally for me, what really draws me into the idea of seeing a show is the simple answer of ‘yes’ to the question, “Will this show have enough consistent laugh breaks that I will never have to worry about my farts being heard?”
Of all the theaters in LA, UCB is the one for me. Never have I ever had to hold in a fart for a long period of time, because one of the improvisers always delivers what I refer to as a “fart muffling” laugh line. For this reason I also fancy UCB as a great date place. I’ve never felt my farting freedom infringed upon on during any of their shows. Also, since I can let all my gases out during the show I don’t leave the theater feeling bloated for whatever post date activities might be in store for me.
Furthermore, it is no secret that it is pretty hot, sweaty, and quite compact in the UCB theater. Most would view this as a negative. I though, must respectfully disagree. With ample amounts of sweating, and people crammed next to each other it’s easy to blame your fart smell on anything but your actual fart. I’ve been asked before, “What’s that smell? It just started smelling really bad.” I calmly replied, “The guy next to me is sweating a lot. He also doesn’t look like he wears deodorant…hipsters these days.” My friend bought it immediately, so my fart and I were in the clear.
I did have a close call with a friend once. We were watching Bangarang! which is the ultimate fart freedom zone in my opinion. Betsy Sodaro had a great line, causing the theater to erupt with laughter, allowing me to erupt with gas fearlessly…or so I thought. I know my friend hadn’t heard my fart, because I timed it perfectly with the laugh and applause break. It was the smell that he just couldn’t let go. He kept saying, “There’s no way it’s sweat. A body wouldn’t release an odor like that without someone giving it permission to.” I could see his point. It was quite rancid. Naturally, it was a packed house, so it was easy to pin the blame on anyone but myself since we were all sitting so close to each other. I picked the girl next to him in overalls. I got him to agree she was sporting a “post fart look of relief face,” so I was in the clear once again.
My point is, marketing a theater well is just as important as having talented performers who deliver hilarious shows week after week. If a tree falls in the woods, but no one’s around to hear it, did it make a sound? If I fart at a UCB show, but no one hears it due to audience laughter, did I actually fart? I just think the theater could truly maximize its traffic by branding itself as, UCB: So much laughter, you’re free to fart fearlessly.