MOLINE — If you're hungry for fresh comedy served in easy-to-digest bites, you'll be happy to hear that “All You Care To Eat: A Comedy Thingy Podcast” is back on the menu at Black Box Theatre, 1623 5th Ave.
It will be performed in front of a live audience at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 9. Tickets are $7.50 and are available online at TheBlackBoxTheatre.com or by phone at 563-284-2350.
Three new episodes, each about 25 minutes long, will be offered by the sketch and improv troupe Comedy Thingy, which is launching its third season. The performance is in the style of a radio play, featuring sound effects, music, and readings by actors with scripts in hand.
The content is uncensored, and the performance is recommended for audiences 18 and older.
The group, formed in 2013, features the original comedy of Clay Sander, Dave Bonde, Rick Davis and Jeff De Leon. All four members originally hail from the Quad-Cities area and have over 20 years of experience performing together in a variety of comedy venues.
Sander, who writes most of the sketches, has spent more than 20 years writing for stage, radio and television.
“What I really like is it allows us to pack in a lot of comedy in a short period of time,” he said recently said of the podcast at the 50-seat Black Box, which opened in January 2017. “There's not a lot of fat. It makes for a tight 20 to 25 minutes.
“At the Black Box, you're close to the audience; it's very intimate, interactive in a way,” Sander said. “It's a good space. You get a lot of comedy in a short period of time, and record it. The Black Box has been a real good home for us.”
Archived episodes are available at comedythingy.com/podcast.
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In these new episodes, the four-man troupe will once again be joined by Patrick Brennan, a Chicago comedian/actor and host of the podcast; Mark Allen, special guest announcer; Kathryn Sander, special guest and Chicago musician; and keyboardist Mike Brose. The whole thingy is audio-engineered by Gunnar Malstrom.
Having a live audience is key, said De Leon, of Moline, who manages the troupe.
“Especially if we're going to parody 'All Things Considered,' 'A Prairie Home Companion,' having the live audience reaction is great,” he said. “As performers, that's your feedback.”
While the comedians are reading from scripts, they usually get together only two hours before the show starts for a sound check and their first read-through, De Leon noted. “Knowing we're going to do it live in an hour, that gives it a little spontaneity," he said.
Each episode covers about nine or 10 “ideas,” with some fake commercials, and the podcasts are typically available about two months after the live performance is staged, Sander said. The latest episodes were done here last fall, and the first were performed at Black Box in May 2017.
“Podcasting has blown up in the last five years. We're all fans of our own comedy podcasts, so why not do our own?” De Leon asked. “When you put material into the world, anyone can have access to it. It's been a great experience; it's fun.”
The Comedy Thingy's sketch show, “Leopold!,” has been featured in slightly varying iterations at the Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival, and its web short series, “Coach Cliche,” was an official selection to the All Sports Los Angeles Film Festival.
“It's a good team, all these four,” Sander said of Comedy Thingy. “We all contribute, have a nice four-person troupe that has different strengths. We all have improv background and have been performing.”