Don't Spit the Water!
Fri. @ 8 p.m., Sat. @ 7 p.m., Theatre 99
A comedy recipe: Gather five comics (give or take), one audience member, and one glass of water, preferably half-full. Place all ingredients on stage, mix well, and watch the laughter – and the water – fly.
While sitting in the front row at as many Charleston Comedy Fest shows as possible might sound like a good idea, you may want to rethink that proximity at a Don't Spit the Water! show. Why? Every Saturday at the Playground Theater in downtown Chicago, emcees and "International Comedy Sensations" Steve "Sasha" Gadlin and his literally silent partner The Noob lead a cadre of comics as they attempt to crack a random audience member, getting him or her to laugh so hard that they – you guessed it – spit out a mouthful of water.
In Oct. 2004, creator Gadlin put together this fast-paced, riotous "game show" that combines elements of the ancient TV show Make Me Laugh, The Gong Show, and the zanier bits of old-school Saturday Night Live.
"We just started it on a whim," Gadlin says. "We had a group of us who were on an improv team together who had signed up for a sketch slot at the Playground, but no one had written anything. I couldn't cancel the slot, so in three weeks I wrote an outline, got in touch with everyone, we bought some sparkly curtains, and we put together the show ... we didn't even think we'd make it to the end of our four-week run."
Now in their third year of Saturday-night residency at the Playground, DSTW! has evolved into the place to spot some of Chicago's improv glitterati as the ever-changing cast, charged with coaxing chuckles from the lucky audience members chosen to try to hold a mouthful of water through a round-robin onslaught of three costumed comics.
If you have a friend/coworker/relative you'd like to see in the hot seat during the Comedy Fest, visit the DSTW! website and drop an e-mail to Gadlin – and make sure to bring a poncho to the show. –Sara Miller