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Comedic troupe to leave audience in stitches

Some say laughter is the best medicine, and this weekend the longest running comedy show in New York will arrive to cure Ohio University’s cabin fever.

Ohio University will host the comedy and improv group, Chicago City Limits, Saturday at Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium.

Comedians participating in the 1977 Second City Workshop in Chicago formed the group, according to the Center Stage Artists website.

The group has two casts: a main stage cast that performs only at the Broadway Theater in New York City, and a touring cast that travels the country and will be in Athens Saturday.

The touring company features nine performers and two piano players, who perform several different shows during their run. The group will perform a show called “Isn’t it Iconic?” Saturday night.

“(The show is) 80 percent improvised short-form games based on audiences suggestions, and 20 percent written musical medleys skewering the topics of the day... plus maybe 5 percent hecklers... which is 105 percent true,” tour member Rory Scholl said.

The show usually starts with a musical number followed by improvisation sketches and games, as well as some preconceived sketches.

Each night boasts a new show because most of the material is improvised.

“(The group) is the most rehearsed improv company that I know of,” said Sharon Fogarty, a tour member. “We practice putting ourselves on the spot and performing as if from a finished script or even a finished song.”

OU’s show features pop culture and media references for most of its material, which Fogarty said raises a unique challenge.

“Chicago City Limits demands a polished performance and that their actors be up on current events, knowledgeable of history, capable of portraying limitless characters, plus we have to move and sing well,” Fogarty said.

“Isn’t it Iconic?” works almost completely from audience suggestion and is a mix of different types of comedy. This makes the show appealing to different kinds of audiences, tour member David Chernicoff said.

“I think it's different from a lot of other shows out there, and I think there's something for everyone no matter who they are, where they're from, or what level of familiarity with improv they might have coming in,” Chernicoff said.

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