Backstage Pass: Kids Komedy Club steals hearts in Valentine's show

 

Backstage Pass: Kids Komedy Club steals hearts in Valentine's show

 

Date: February 5, 2014
by: Mallory Gnaegy | A&E Editor

 
 

It’s 10 a.m. on a Saturday morning at Florida Studio Theatre’s Goldstein Cabaret. Three girls with scripts in hand are on the stage doing a comedy sketch about building the perfect boyfriend, a sketch they helped write. One girl wants to change her nerdy, momma’s boy, putz-of-a-boyfriend into someone a little more masculine, so they pump him up with an air pump and turn him from a nincompoop to Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Director Adam Ratner (just one of his three titles at FST) founded Kids Komedy Club (the second generation) in 2009. It’s a group of 10 performers ages 10 to 15 that meets every Saturday morning to write, rehearse and perform sketch comedy and improv routines. Some of the children, such as Clarence Dodge, have been involved since the first year the group started. Another, Andrew Stevens, donated $250 of his bar mitzvah money to the theater’s capital campaign. Today, they are preparing for their Valentine’s Day-themed show — they typically perform shows for the public near all the big holidays.

Siena Siegel, 15, asks Ratner if she can play around with her character and make her a valley girl.

“Try it out and we’ll see if it works,” he tells her.

These three girls have not yet experienced the put-the-toilet-seat-down nature of the male species, yet their hilarious display of this aspect is spot on during one of the sketches. It’s one example of the quick wit of this particular group of kids. Plus, their knowledge of pop culture nearly two decades before they were born is impressive. They make “Kindergarten Cop” references and talk about watching Talking Heads music videos.

Back in the ’80s, when he was experiencing these firsthand, Ratner was a member of the first generation of Kids Komedy Club. It’s where the then-7-year-old got his start doing improv. Now he’s made a career of acting and he also performs in the professional adult improv troupe, FST Improv.

The whole troupe takes the stage for the next sketch — it’s all improvised around the audience’s suggestion. For worst mortician ever, one child makes another child pretending to be a dead body dance.
For worst juggler ever, one child pretends to not have any arms. It’s so funny, the pianist providing the improvised music for the show, Erik Sumner, can’t help cracking up.

In a news sketch, two boys don masks of George Washington and Abe Lincoln with the mouths cut out. Parker McCormick keeps making Lincoln stick his tongue in and out in a Kiss-like fashion — the move is unrehearsed. The whole room is in stitches. Ratner, a real professional, says he learns from them every day.

“They are so funny! They are so quick,” he says. “That’s one of the things — as I get older it’s like some of the things they do, I remember being that funny, I remember being that fast!”

IF YOU GO 
When: 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 8
Where: Florida Studio Theatre, 1241 N. Palm Ave.
Cost: Tickets are $6.
Info: Call 366-9000 or visit floridastudiotheatre.org.

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