Whose Anniversary Is It, Anyway?

San Diego comedy theater group will celebrate 10 years of improv yuks

 In 1999, Gary Kramer took over a dilapidated theater in Mission Hills and opened the San Diego chapter of the National Comedy Theatre.

“I’m shocked we’re turning 10 years old,” Kramer said. “This should have failed a long time ago.”

Technically, Kramer is the artistic director of the San Diego and New York theater groups. But he prefers the title of Big Cheese (he’s signed documents that way). The resident director of NCT is Jamie Fox-Rice, chief of staff to San Diego city councilmemeber Todd Gloria.

NCT shows are a lot like “Whose Line Is It Anyway?,” an improvisational comedy program that was hosted in the United States by comedian Drew Carey. During an NCT offering, two teams of three comedy players compete to get points from the audience for being funny.

“For the record, we were doing improv before Drew Carey’s show,” says Kramer. “But before that show came on TV, it was hard to explain what we did. It was like, ‘Um, we go onstage with no script.’ People would look at us like we had three heads. But after Drew Carey, people got it.”

NCT shows are refereed by a comedian. And since the show is supposed to be family friendly, if a player cusses, he has to wear a paper bag on his head for the rest of a particular skit/game.

“Even audience members have to wear the bag if they curse,” says Kramer. “It happens nearly every show. And for some reason, the audience members really do wear the bag.”

To celebrate its 10th anniversary, NCT is bringing back a lot of former players this weekend. On the following weekend (October 16-17), New York and Arizona teams will fly in to compete with San Diego’s big bananas.

NCT performs every Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. Tickets are $12 for students and seniors; $15 for adults. The last Saturday show of each month is at 11:45 p.m.

“There are no paper bags for that one,” says Kramer. “It’s absolutely filthy.”

Ron Donoho is a regular contributor to NBCSandiego.com and a contributing editor to sandiego.com. His Web site (sandiegoDTOWN.com) is dedicated to news, sports, culture, happy hours and all things downtown.

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