If today’s current news headlines give a good reason to medicate, one should position him (or herself) on Hollywood Blvd. on a late Sunday night, and he or she would be unknowingly closest to one of the best comedic finds in Los Angeles.
Settled securely behind a suave gentleman named Francisco, below a subtle blue neon emblem testifying of the letters I and O, and right next to the spell-check worthy Cahuenga Blvd., is Los Angeles’s famous Improv Olympic West.
This theater teaches and hosts performances of improvisational, sketch, and standup comedy in LA almost hourly on any given day, but on Sunday nights at 9:00 PM the comedic universe aligns and the I/O West’s main stage fortuitous find of Top Story! Weekly begins.
A valid ID to the dapper Francisco is your fast pass to hashtag hilarity and trending taboo. Entrance then propels one into an animated, convenient bar which both serves as an optimal waiting area for those early for the show and deliberate den to those just leaving one. Once seated inside the comfortable theater, he or she has immediately been catapulted into the unanticipated humorous side of the week’s headlines.
The sketches, which present themselves with beyond professional quality, capture your senses with detailed costumes, skilled acting and smart writing. The technical team treks through each sketch with ease anticipating every moment and punchline with admirable precision and ending each scene with psychic-like timing.
A cool, comfortable co-executive producer, Michael Hughes, beautifully explains the intricate process: “Starting on Monday, our writers and actors keep an eye out for new stories that may good subjects for Sunday’s Show. They also start posting one and two liner jokes on our message board, for possible inclusion in the Top Story! Weekly Report mock newscast. On a Wednesday night, the week’s head writer, director and writing staff members, along with any members of our cast who would like to attend come to the writers’ meeting where they (brainstorm). Together they develop concepts for sketches, with the head writer and director… On Thursday, all of the sketches are submitted, and that night, (everyone) meets to read through all of the submissions. We determine the running order and re-writes are assigned to individual members of the staff. Those re-writes are due Friday afternoon. After which the director finalizes casting the show and sends out the final script to the cast. On Saturday afternoon, the cast rehearses and techs the show for four and a half hours and puts it up that night. Then, we start all over the next day!” Sure, that seems easy enough.
The preceding process for putting up a show in this short a time frame prepares both Top Story! Weekly writers and performers for inclusion in any type of sketch show. It is impressive. In fact, if the process of putting up a weekly topical show does not awe this reader, an assumption of a lack of soul may be fair to assess and some type of apocalypse has likely begun.
Respectfully rivaling other sketch shows which may take weeks (excluding previews) to put up, the writers of Top Story! Weekly prove that this show is truly a unique force. Delivering an amusing brew of fact and entertainment, this week’s head writer Stacy Rumaker, seriously serves up the funny.
The nature of the show, is a writers dream, providing staff writers like the super force trio of Eileen Mary O’Connell, Lauren Scharf, and Sean Tierney with continuous topical assignments. With credits from shows all over the Los Angeles area, their personal yet unified styles and proficient pens will have one in just as many stitches in person as they provide for audiences on stage.
The Top Story! Weekly actors execute the script incomparably. With only a few hours to rehearse, actors Amy Paffrath (Hot in Cleveland) and Kipleigh Brown (Star Trek: Enterprise) poetically slap the faces of any critic that says that women ain’t funny. These bold beauties weave seamlessly from one sketch to another gliding from character to character with ease. Along with players Mitchel Baldwin, Sean Cowhig, Jared Nigro, Derek Reid and Phillip Wilburn (Conan, Weeds, Jimmy Kimmel Live) this comedic combo could not have gone wrong.
The show also breaks up the sketches with amazing stand-up comedians. This week showcased Robert Buscemi and past comedians have included Maria Bamford, Emo Philips, Bobcat Goldthwait and Bill Burr to name a very impressive few.
Executive producers, Michael Hughes and Phillip Wilburn keep the show on it’s feet every week. Even on the wake of breaking news on Sunday, they are on the ball. Michael, who also serves as a writer, actor and director of the show, proudly produces an example of when Bin Laden was killed. When the news of Bin Laden’s death broke directly before a Sunday show; Phillip, on the ride over, skillfully delivered, a solid blackout sketch to his cast with effortlessness and hilarious ease.
Rather than the stress of a topical show causing dissention and anxiety, love abounds with this group. No, not just “Great show, see ya next week.” kinda love. LOVE, love. Many ummm….initiations occur within the show, including one beautiful show proposal (see video below) watchable many, many times (allegedly).
The positive and familial atmosphere provided by the cast and the team is infectious. This writer fell in love exactly 6 times during the interview.
The expert entertainers of Top Story Weekly, serve exceptional, smart comedy weekly both online and on Improv Olympic’s live stage. Fortunately, the only side-effects this hilarious Xanax replacement will provide it’s audience with are side-splitting flashbacks, and perhaps a date.
Tell ’em Mirage sent ya.
Top Story! Weekly plays every Sunday at 9PM through June and moves to 8PM beginning in July.
Last Sunday’s Show:
Drew Seeley’s magical proposal to TS!W Actor Amy Paffrath during show:
Top Story Weekly is currently accepting writers’ packets (Deadline June28th)
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