ADD-ing it Up

Improv troupe caters to audiences with short attention spans.

Austin Charanghat Robert Lockwood Jr.
Columbus' Pale Imitations Improv Troupe of comedians makes it a point to cut most of its sketches short at the one-minute mark. Take its signature "Attention Deficit Playhouse," which the five-member cast will introduce in its first-ever Cleveland show tonight, as part of the weekly Pub Laughs Comedy Night by Cleveland's Torque . . . Full Throttle Improv ensemble. In the skit, audience members yell book, movie, and song titles for the Imitations, who pick one of the suggestions and act it out in no more than three lines of off-the-cuff dialogue. "When you're up there, and someone gives you a sketch idea, you're creatively flying by the seat of your pants. It's more immediate and unpredictable," says comic Scott Summitt, who's been with the troupe for 18 months. "I thrive on the spontaneity. Give me an idea, and let's move on with it."Since its first gig in 2005, the quintet has likened its absurdist take on comedy to the groundbreaking early-'70s British TV show Monty Python's Flying Circus, whose cast discarded conventional joke-telling for a stream-of-consciousness approach to improvisational humor. The Imitations have become well regarded in Central Ohio's comedy clubs for gags like their game-show spoofs, which feature Coco the Sign-Language Gorilla as the host. "It's completely silly," says Summitt, who did both stand-up and improvised comedy in L.A. for 15 years before moving back to his native Ohio. "It's a kooky skit on kids' shows gone bad."Then there's the "Catfish in a Bikini" sketch, in which troupe members dance with a stuffed catfish doll. "It's another ridiculous piece of nonsense," says Summitt. "People will either think it's the dumbest thing they've ever seen or they're falling off their chairs." The curtain goes up at 8 p.m. today and Thursday, March 20, at the Powerhouse Pub, 2000 Sycamore Street on the West Bank of the Flats. Admission is free. Call 216-861-4982 or visit
Thu., March 13, 8 p.m.; Thu., March 20, 8 p.m., 2008
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