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Trophy Wife : Improv Comedy from Los Angeles

Trophy Wife

Improv Comedy from Los Angeles

Trophy Wife is a long-form improv comedy group that performs "The Harold," the signature improvised piece of the iOWest. Based on a single audience suggestion, Trophy Wife weaves a series of completely improvised scenes, stories, and games into a single hilarious piece. Each show is broadcast worldwide via the group's popular podcast.
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Backstage Photos from Trophy Wife's 9th Anniversary Show

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Our 9th Anniversary show last week was a blast. I brought my camera and snapped these candid pics of the gang backstage. Enjoy!

Rachael Drummond and Jill Alexander backstage at Trophy Wife's 9th Anniversary Show

Mike Betette backstage at Trophy Wife's 9th Anniversary Show

Rachael Drummond and Jill Alexander backstage at Trophy Wife's 9th Anniversary Show

Mike Coen backstage at Trophy Wife's 9th Anniversary Show

Mike Betette and Mike Coen backstage at Trophy Wife's 9th Anniversary Show

Dave Park and Rachael Drummond backstage at Trophy Wife's 9th Anniversary Show

Mike Betette and Rachael Drummond backstage at Trophy Wife's 9th Anniversary Show

Jill Alexander, Dave Park, Mike Coen, Mike Betette, and Rachael Drummond backstage at Trophy Wife's 9th Anniversary Show

Rachael Drummond backstage at Trophy Wife's 9th Anniversary Show

Kevin McShane, Rachael Drummond, Jill Alexander, Mike Coen, Dave Park, and Mike Betette backstage at Trophy Wife's 9th Anniversary Show

The iOWest marquee the night of Trophy Wife's 9th Anniversary Show

Farewell to Zabeth

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Check out our moving tribute to founding member Zabeth Russell on the night of her final show – June 13th, 2012 – featuring an original song by Gregtronic.

Happy Thanksgiving from The Wife

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Thanksgiving 2010 {giant explosion noise here!} just passed us by and some Wifely thanks are due.

1. Thanks for baby Andrew Drummond. Rachael and Alex brought the newest child Wife into the world and we promise to make it a place full of laughter.

2. Thanks to all of you who check in here and follow the Wife. I was in Austin for the Out of Bounds Improv Festival in September and had so many fellow improvisers mention that they watch our shows in order to learn Harold. The fact that this website has turned out to be an educational resource for groups without access to major improv training centers is a huge kudos to Kevin McShane, who also deserves thanks for all the effort he puts into making the Wife look awesome on the web and in every photo he’s ever taken.

3. Thanks to our significant others for making our Wife family bigger and better. All the Wives are in love with non-Wives, and thanks to those tolerant people we lead richer lives and have more to bring to the improv table.

4. Thanks to Los Angeles for making 2010 a year full of opportunity and work for the Wives. We’ve all taken great steps forward in our non-improv endeavors this year.

5. Thanks IOWest. Having the time and energy to focus on improv is a treat. Having a place to do it in is a luxury. Thanks to the entire community there for keeping the Wife going.

Tim Kicks It Old School

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And now, from our trip to San Francisco this summer, something we like to call “Tim Kicks It Old School”:

Trophy Eating in San Francisco

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Outside Tommy's Joynt

Trophy Wife spent the weekend performing at The Purple Onion as part of the SFIF. It was wonderful. We made new friends (e.g., that guy whose cell phone could tell you what song was playing, Revolving Madness, and pianist Mark Takvoryan). We did three wonderful shows. And we ate at Tommy’s Joynt.

My first visit to Tommy’s Joynt was in 2005 when the Nite Terrors played the SFIF at the Next Stage. To borrow a line from John Denver, it was like coming home to a place I’d never been before. Picture a bar with character and community. Add to that bar an extensive steam-tray servery. In short, Cheers and Lawry’s had a baby and their baby is 60 years old.

Last summer, I took a four-day workshop with Bay Area Theater Sports. After class, I’d go to Tommy’s Joynt for dinner. Improv all day, and then some stew and a beer for dinner. Heaven.

This past Saturday, Trophy Wife dined at Tommy’s Joynt. The Wife loved the Joynt. I had a turkey drumstick, Natasha went with the sausage sandwich, Shaun Landry had the Corned Beef, Tim and Mike went with the brisket, and Opus and Kevin got nasty with the short ribs. Root beer, Sierra Nevada, Stella, and help-yourself water and pickles were also enjoyed.

Thank you, Tommy’s Joynt.

Accompanied by Andrew: Langer's

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Since 2004, Harold Nights at the IO West have been made better by the keyboard accompaniment of Andrew Melton. And the same goes for a good lunch—it gets even better when you’re accompanied by Andrew Melton.

Andrew and I have gone on a few field trips over the years to some of LA’s most beloved restaurants and bars. To kick off this column, Andrew joined me, Natasha, and Michael for another lunch at Langer’s.

Langer’s just celebrated 60 years in business in the Westlake/McArthur Park district. They’re a classic deli and some say they make the best pastrami… in the country.

Andrew and I both had the pastrami on rye with a side of potato salad. Natasha had the blintzes. The food was, indeed, excellent. I would particularly point out the bread. So well done—heated and crisped just right. And the service is great—that almost motherly service you often find in a good deli or diner.

Langer’s is at the corner of Alvarado Street and 7th (a piece of geography recently named Langer’s Square)—a short walk from the MacArthur Park Metro stop. If you’re driving, there’s a convenient parking lot just east of the restaurant at the northeast corner of 7th and Westlake Ave.

So please go to Langer’s (they’re open Monday through Saturday, 8 am to 4 pm) and eat of their goodness. And if you have the appetite for the Fresser’s Special Sandwich, please let me know how awesome it was.

In Which Opus and Kevin Visit The Future

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Opus and Kevin play an imaginary game
Opus and Kevin play an imaginary game from the future.
photo: Linda Abbott

This past Sunday, Opus and I got our collective geek on at the annual Wired NEXTFest downtown at the LA Convention Center. Opus went as part of his All New Year project. I went to do recon for the upcoming Robot Apocalypse. And our companion – photographer Linda Abbott – was there to document it all. It was an afternoon full of exploration, shenanigans, and SCIENCE (said while twirling one’s finger upward)!

Kevin pwns Opus in Brainball
Kevin pwns Opus in BrainBall
photo: Linda Abbott

One of the highlights included BrainBall – a game in which opponents sit at opposite sides of a table from each other, a magnetic ball between them, and a headband that measures brainwaves strapped to their heads. The idea is that the more relaxed your mind is, the further you push the ball toward your opponent. It was like the Russian Roulette scene from Deer Hunter. Only with our minds.

I totally pwnd Opus in all three of the three games we played, using a deadly combination of my awesome brain-fu plus shouting word problems at him (“A train leaves Chicago at 4:30 PM at 70 miles per hour…”).

Opus and Kevin sign autographs
Opus signs autographs for his non-existant fanbase
photo: Linda Abbott

Other shenanigans included sitting at the empty NASA booth and signing the photos left over from the astronaut autograph session (no need to thank us), and trying to crawl into the spacepod they had set up.

But our main occupation that afternoon was fucking with the robotics people. In keeping with my recon mission, I asked each robot vendor what the easiest way to disable their robots would be once they start going crazy and killing people. Most of the scientists we encountered didn’t have much of a sense of humor about my line of questioning. Or much else for that matter. No one got the Cylon joke Opus cracked at the artificial robot flesh booth.

It’s slightly comforting to know that the first round of killer robots will all look like old Chinese scientists. It’s when they start looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger that we need to worry.
photo: me

One woman who did have a sense of humor was the daughter of a Chinese robotics developer/professor who had made a robot replica of himself. Camcorder in hand, she filmed the audience’s reactions to her father’s attempted leap of Uncanny Valley. Turning her camera to Opus and I, she asked what we thought of the entire thing. That was a mistake.

After recording a few minutes of our anti-robot japes, she put down the camera and asked, “Are you two actors?” We, of course, denied the accusation, which prompted her to follow up with “. . . Or sitcom comedians?“ As if being a sitcom comedian is somehow different from being an actor and (judging by the tone of her voice) a far inferior occupation.

But perhaps the best moment of the day (and one of my crowning achievements in life, really) occurred while Opus and I were investigating the “Future of Entertainment” section of the hall. After playing a game of 3D Pong (which you would think would just be regular ping pong, but it wasn’t), we came across a simple white cube, about waist-high, with a light shining down on it. Clearly meant for an exhbit that either hadn’t been or was already set up and taken down, the cube was now bare. So I came up with a new use for it.

I told Opus to stand opposite me and, with the cube between us, we crouched down. With determined looks on our faces, we started moving our hands in a way that suggested some type of back-and-forth game was being played – complete with celebration after points “scored.”

Two kids try to play Kevin and Opus' imaginary game
Kids are gullible
photo: Linda Abbott

Sure enough, after a few moments, we started to draw a small crowd around us. People curious as to what we were playing and why they couldn’t see it.

But the crowning moment occurred when two boys asked us if they could step in and play our game. After Opus and I positioned them exactly where we were standing (since it was the only place they could “see” the game), we tried to hold in our chuckles as they actually tried to “play” our imaginary game. It was amazing.

Sure, we’re jerks for duping childen. And being smartasses to the world’s top scientists. But whatever. Next year, we’re bringing a videocamera. The NextFest is too fertile ground for comedy to remain unplowed.

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