A wonderful gif from Comrades set in The Manifesto Show’s One Year Anniversary show by Danny Cohen
Comrades (Jen Krueger, Dave Christenson and I) is perhaps the first team to really make me feel at home in the indie improv scene in Los Angeles. I had some success before with another 3-man dream team called D’Artagnan (Dickie Copeland, Scott Neiman and I), but I did improv in college with those beautiful souls so we were already comfortable with each other.
I met Dave in line for Harold night in maybe 2009, when I was interning and he was patiently waiting for me to let him in, week after week. I had just starting doing movie reviews for LAist.com, and I recognized him from an indie film that I had seen and written about the week before called White On Rice. I told him jokingly that we should start a two-man team called David & Goliath, where one of us killed the other by the end. We still do that show sometimes, and it’s some of the silliest, most fun stuff I do on stage.
I came in contact with Jen through Dave, because they had been doing two person shows as Penguins on the Playground in the iO loft for a few months. Jen seemed to know a few of the people who ran those shows and went up often, so when a few people bailed on her for a show she asked Dave to sit in and Dave asked me. Standing outside of the back entrance to iO, the three of us talked about what our name should be and what sort of show we should try to have. If I remember correctly, I was wearing my old Russian CCCP shirt, and the idea came about that we would simply call ourselves Comrades. We went upstairs, did a monoscene, and immediately fell in love with each other.
Of the ten or so proudest improv moments I’ve had since moving to Los Angeles, at least four of them come directly from Comrades. We did a show one night at Flappers in Burbank (I have no idea why), and the stage was maybe as big as one-and-a-half phone booths. Jen and Dave and I climbed all over each other as scientists stuck in a tiny laboratory, each of whom harbored some sort of feelings for the other. That’s a common theme for us: secret love piled on with physicality and a little bit of grossness. Basically, real life.
After that, Comrades won the 3-man tournament at Crashbar, through a series of monoscenes that featured Dave as everything from an android to some sort of historical ghost. No matter what Dave and I throw at Jen, she keeps it all together. She’s the smart one of the bunch, and she still takes care of us to this day.
At some point in the middle, Comrades played a night at Room 101 that featured Jen and I digging up a time capsule as Dave the bully looked on from the nearby slide, alternately making fun of us and begging us to keep going. Eventually, just before the blackout, it was revealed that the time capsule itself was Dave’s doing, and the entire show had been a perfect setup for him to make fun of us one last time. I laughed so hard I cried on stage at the end, and it’s maybe the most perfect single show I’ve ever been a part of. Dave will always take you to a place you don’t expect, and you’ll be so happy you’re there that you might just start crying.
Then, we started The Manifesto Show, a little indie outfit that celebrated it’s first year in the game last Friday. We learned from the best (Room 101, Crashbar, TNT, Mach) and managed to put together a show that has survived and grown, despite being on one of the biggest party nights in town. We’ve had unforgettable moments from our first lotto team Toughie, through an incomparable run of Danny Cohen Presents-prov, and into our new time at The Clubhouse. Since day one, the environment surrounding The Manifesto Show has been one of absolute love and support, both from the community at large, the performers on stage, and the two people I’m proud to run the show with.
Even saying ‘run’ is a bit of a misnomer. Like always, Dave and Jen have carried me practically the entire way. I pitch ideas and stand on stage and talk a lot, but those two book the performers, handle the cash, run the lights, interface with management, and make sure I don’t screw things up. Jen Krueger and Dave Christenson are two of my best friends in Los Angeles, and I have Comrades to thank for all of it.