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Mid-performance switch from a straight stand-up comedy set to improv skits enlivens Thursday's comedy show at Boca Raton's Biergarten.

by Chuck king
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BOCA RATON, Fla. – Richie Minervini decided to shake up what had already been a successful show.

Nearing the end of Thursday’s set at the Biergarten, the veteran comic elected to jolt what had been at times a distracted audience comprised of comedy fans and regular bar patrons by bringing all three previous comics back to the stage for some improvisational comedy skits.

“Maybe if we did something they’ve never seen before and related it to something they’ve seen on TV?” Minervini figured.

Mimicking the hit television show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” Zach McGovern, Kristi McHugh and David Sadman spent the show’s final 15 minutes performing improv sketch comedy.

The group began with Freeze Frame, a bit popularized by the show where two comics begin a skit with one theme, then when someone from the audience yells “freeze” a new comic replaces one of the on-stage comics and takes the performance in a different direction.

The change of pace captivated the audience.

“The quietest the crowd was the whole night was when we did that,” Minervini said.

A newcomer to the South Florida comedy scene but a veteran of improv sketch comedy in Chicago and New York, McGovern impressed Minervini with his quick thinking.

“When they said some up I was like f**k yeah! Let’s do this,” McGovern said. “We got some laughs and had a good time. I liked it.”

For Sadman, the appearance marked his first in live improv sketch comedy.

“It was different,” Sadman said. “I had an opportunity to try something that I had never tried before. I could see it being a lot of fun.”

The audience rewarded the troupe with a rousing ovation.

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“All of the sudden there was a bond on stage,” Minervini said. “Zach knew. I knew. Christie knew. And Dave, for a rookie, he had some good lines.”

APPLAUSE BREAK-DOWN

VENUE: Biergarten, Boca Raton (Dec. 10, 2020)

LINEUP:
David Sadman (Host)
Kristi McHugh (Co-feature)
Zach McGovern (Co-feature)
Richie Minervini (Feature)

SHOW HIGHLIGHT: At one point during the improv portion of the show Minervini tapped himself into the act and stepped behind a bent-over McHugh to create a pre-snap quarterback-center football formation. When Minervini yelled for the snap, McHugh took a couple steps forward, then pantomimed throwing a football. While it was inaccurate to have the center throw a football, McHugh’s anger at the pass not being caught combined with her enthusiasm throughout sold the bit and had the audience – as well as the other comics – laughing.

BE OUR GUEST: McGovern brought a nice following to see his second-career Biergarten performance. His banter with a table of college girls sitting near the front entertained. …Normally an LA comic, McHugh has frequently landed feature spots in South Florida over the past few weeks. The crowd seems to enjoy her harmonica play. …Sadman broke out a new bit, taking the Biergarten to Gilligan’s Island.

WORKING THE ROOM: Transitioning a bar into a comedy club isn’t always easy. While a good-sized crowd showed for the comedy, an equal amount arrived seemingly unaware there was an event. Everyone was well behaved, though at times the volume of the table talk elevated. “Certainly it worked,” Minervini said. “I don’t know who came for the comedy show and who came and got a comedy show thrown on them, but I think they enjoyed it.”

THE COMICS’ TABLE: LA comics Jimmy Shubert and Chad Ridgely attended the show. Minervini opened for Shubert in recent weeks. …McGovern is based in New York, but the threat of yet another lock down has him considering spending more time in South Florida. He had planned to head back to the Big Apple. “If New York gets shut down I’m going to stay a little longer,” he said.

ONE LINER: “We were like a band up there.” – Minervini, referring to the comics working together during improv.

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