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By Donald V. Calamia
Time flies when you're having fun, which helps explain why it doesn't seem possible that Go Comedy! Improv Theater recently celebrated its first anniversary in Downtown Ferndale. Launched in the midst of a statewide economic depression by Pj Jacokes, Chris DiAngelo, Tommy LeRoy and Gerald Knight, the popular, award-winning venue is starting its second year with yet another 'miracle' – its first original holiday show.
Written by and starring a handful of Go Comedy's most popular improvisers, Miracle on 9 Mile Street features a fast-paced series of slickly performed sketches, some of which will tickle your funny bone, while others will tug at your heart strings.
The opening scene perfectly sets the tone for the entire evening: a slow-motion reenactment of pretty much every family Christmas dinner you've ever attended.
Another gem is the Ghost Gatherers, in which two reality show wannabes (Pj Jacokes and Anne Faba) discover Ebenezer Scrooge's old house and hope to find it still haunted by the legendary spooks. (It is.)
Later, Suzie Jacokes and Faba are Jewish mothers whose daughters attend the best school in town – a Catholic school, and they're stuck selling poinsettia plants at a holiday fundraiser, a tradition they don't understand. (Who does?)
In another, a young man (Garrett Fuller) goes shopping for a Christmas gift for his girlfriend of one year, but his buddy (Chris DiAngelo) finds something wrong with every idea he comes up with.
Two other comedic standouts include a gingerbread safe house where cookies escape to if they're not eaten, and a meeting of Santa's little helpers from Detroit-area malls who have been called together because of various infractions.
Heartwarming sketches include a gym teacher who poses as Santa (DiAngelo) and tries to help a tough, young boy (Fuller) whose life is far worse than he first expected. In another, Bryan Lark and Faba play a 66-year-old married couple who reflect on New Year's Eves past – both the good and the not-so-good.
Thanks to plenty of laughs and top-notch performances – plus fine direction by Michelle and Tommy LeRoy and spot-on technical support by stage manager Pete Jacokes – Miracle zooms by just as quickly as Go Comedy's first year did. (It runs 90 minutes.) And the troupe's close attention to detail helps make this Miracle on 9 Mile Street a gift anyone would love to receive this holiday season. (Did anyone else notice the cool sound effects that underscore the skit that takes place inside an airliner?)
Go Comedy! Improv Theater, 261 E. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale. Thursday-Saturday through Dec. 19. Tickets: $10-$15. For information: 248-327-0575 or www.gocomedy.net.
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