Weed-induced improv-comedy event in Burlington puts the doobie in ‘Dubious Advice’

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Source – https://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/entertainment/2019/02/07/weed-induced-improv-comedy-puts-doobie-dubious-advice/2779502002/

The improv-comedy event “Dubious Advice” began Saturday night with four people sitting on a stage and the host, Anthony Apodaca, telling the crowd what to expect from them.

“These people are totally high,” Apodaca told the crowd that filled most of the 32 seats at Revelry Theater. “It’s going to be fun.”

The Facebook invitation for the night best explains what “Dubious Advice” is all about: “A panel of totally baked guests answers any and every question you have about life, love, death, student loan debt, etc.,” according to the post. “Then a group of clear-minded improvisers explore the depths of that advice by creating a collection of scenes based on whatever just transpired.”

Being high in public – never really an issue in Burlington, as you know if you’ve ever sniffed the air or witnessed curls of smoke at an outdoor concert at Waterfront Park – became more acceptable July 1 when adults over age 21 were legally allowed to carry up to an ounce of marijuana. Even if people who were smoking pot before July 1 are still smoking and those who weren’t still aren’t, one thing that has changed in the past few months is that people can be more open about their weed usage.

For instance, Apodaca has a terse response to the question of whether he would have done “Dubious Advice” in Burlington pre-July 1.

“Absolutely not,” he said.

Drawing humor from getting high

Apodaca moved to Burlington a year and a half ago from Seattle, where he performed with CSz Seattle, a theater company specializing in improv comedy. Washington state legalized pot possession in 2012, and after that CSz presented comedy nights similar in theme to “Dubious Advice.”

“I knew the format worked,” said Apodaca, who opened Revelry Theater in September.

He told the crowd at the start of the night that it was a BYOB event, as the small theater in an old industrial building on Howard Street in Burlington’s South End does not have a bar. “Dubious Advice” was not, however, a BYOP (bring your own pot) event.

“Don’t light up in here,” Apodaca warned the crowd.

Audience members posed various questions to the “high court,” as it were. “Is there such a thing as a multiverse?” Matt Langan of Manchester asked of the concept of multiple universes.

One panelist – who in declining to divulge her full name to the Burlington Free Press demonstrated that there is still some stigma surrounding marijuana use – giggled uncontrollably as she gave her mostly unintelligible answer. Another panelist, Omega Jade of Burlington, gave a more direct response.

“There has to be a more rich version of me to switch places with,” she said, “and that bitch could be poor.”

Jeremy Rayburn of Burlington went deep. “OK, I think I have a (long pause) thing,” he said before embarking on a theory of science and religion canceling each other out. “All that’s left is right here, right now.”

Another audience question asked if it’s ethical to eat meat. Jade, perhaps experiencing a case of the munchies, said she’s not sure if it’s ethical, but it is necessary. “I like a good cheeseburger,” she said.

Improv skits about meat

Then the “clear-minded improvisers” took over, basing skits on the audience questions. The multiverse query didn’t generate much material, but the meat question turned out to be (ahem) a meaty one for the four Burlington comics.

The improv team created a skit featuring Bryan Parmelee as the father and Jenna Emerson, Jenna Pacitto and Daniel Trigg as his children who were tired of eating nothing but meat, meat, meat. “I am providing for my family,” the father bellowed.

“You could buy it already dead,” Emerson’s character noted. That was before the children discovered the reason their father kept livestock: He was romantically involved with a steer named Reggie.

Trigg and Pacitto then portrayed nihilists at a restaurant who irritated the waiter (Parmelee) by insisting that the chicken they served him was donkey ears and the bottle of wine was a can of tennis balls. The waiter called in a woman (Emerson) to harangue the customers; being mopey nihilists, they were happy to be yelled at.

The stigma around marijuana

Langan, who asked the question about the multiverse, loved what he saw at “Dubious Advice.”

“The caliber of talent that came out of here was astounding,” he said after the hour-long show. He talked of how there was a stigma around marijuana when he was growing up in the 1970s and ‘80s, but the new Vermont law is starting to change that.

“It’s kind of a liberation in this new world we’re living in,” Langan said. “It’s the way it should be.”

Saturday’s show was the debut of “Dubious Advice,” and Apodaca said he would like to see it evolve closer to what CSz Seattle did. Those shows, he said, began with serious, deep questions from audience members about personal relationships, and then the laughs came out of that.

Questions about the multiverse and meat might not have been deeply personal, but they still worked in generating laughs. “With this show,” he said, “it was really just fun.”

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