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“The Naughty List” at Arnold’s is Weeknight Fun with Friends and Family

Review by Liz Eichler of “The Naughty List”: OTR Improv

 It’s the Holidays! So you’re looking to do “something fun with the family”—something indoors, not too expensive, not too Christmas-y, comedic, and entertaining for late teen to twenty-year-olds as well. Be the nice one and bring them to “The Naughty List.” It is Improv comedy by OTR Improv, a co-production of Know Theatre, presented at Arnold’s Bar and Grill, one of Cincinnati’s iconic bars since 1861. Shows are only December 10, 11, 17, 18, 19; perfect timing for a weeknight out with the kids home from college, grabbing a night with the office, or when you and the significant other just need a laugh. “The Naughty List” is improv comedy. While there is a structure for the evening, you as the audience get to fill in key parts, especially the second act, where someone in the audience gets to pic a non-Christmas movie and they Christmas-fy it. On this year’s sneak preview, it was “Forrest Gump.” The clever team took this audience suggestion and crafted a hysterical mashup about Forrest, Lieutenant Dan, Jennie, some reindeer, and Christmas ghosts. Lots of laughs–and running! The first half of the show is short form, full of familiar improv games with a holiday twist and great audience suggestions. The troupe is directed by Chris Wesselman, manager of Cincinnati Fringe. There is a rotating cast of gifted performers. On the preview we enjoyed none other than the Dave Powell (co-director of OTRi), Ellyn Broderick, Julie Locker, and Harris Hensley, accompanied by Mike Flohr on the piano. Other nights you may see Kevin Bauer, Kat Smith, or Nathan Tubbs. Powell is a fixture in local Improv (he teaches it!) and did not disappoint in his short and long sketches. Broderick and Locker are very strong, very funny women, with great voices and expressive faces, and it was Julie who won the “Deck the Halls” sketch, where she was able to deliver more rhymes from audience suggestions. Harris appears to be the newbie, but gives a lot of fun twists and quick wit as the Krampus. A lively audience is key to any improv, shouting out words and ideas for the troupe, cheering good work and booing flubs. A few brave members of the audience even perform with them. (Hint, don’t volunteer anyone else or YOU will be called up!) The only thing that would make this better would be offering warm chocolate chip cookies during intermission (hint-hint, Arnold’s!) Dress in layers for the covered patio courtyard—we were very comfortable, but there are heaters which could get rather warm. The show begins at 7:30 pm but seating begins at 6 if you want to include dinner and drinks at Arnold’s (no service during the show). Their chicken and waffles smell delicious but we devoured the burgers and fries. Many other staples are on the menu including Arnold’s signature Greek spaghetti, pork belly sandwich and the Yo Mamma burger with goetta, hash browns and an egg, featured this past year on Travel Channel’s “Man vs Food.” (That would get my college students to put on shoes!) Plenty of on-street or lot parking, too. For tickets go to www.otrimprov.com and bring family and friends to “celebrate, skewer, lament, embellish, and rhapsodize everything we love – and love to hate – about the holidays.”