Improv Troupe Aims to Milk Political Dysfunction for Laughs

Posted September 18, 2015 at 3:56pm

The Theater of Public Policy is bringing its civic-minded brand of comedy to the District for an extended stay during which the performers look forward to having their way with all three branches of government.  

“This is not just a show for policy wonks. It’s a gateway for policy newbies,” co-creator and director Tane Danger declares in a promotional video about the group.  

The Theater of Public Policy from Kevin McKeever on Vimeo .  

Originally founded in 2011, Danger said his outfit has since gained a cult following.  

“Now that we’ve been doing it for several years, folks know who we are to some degree,” he estimated of the cachet they’ve earned around their home state.  

“We pride ourselves on being civic nerds,” Danger said of his fellow Minnesotans.  

That name recognition paid off earlier this year; the group was able to scrounge up over $15,000 via an online fundraising campaign — funds earmarked to help realize the dream of bringing the show to the nation’s capital.  

While here, the troupe is planning to poke its nose into everything, setting up interviews with everyone from administration officials to Reps. Tim Walz, D-Minn., and Tom Emmer, R-Minn.  

Luring politicians on stage for anything, much less a comedy show, is no small feat. But Danger, it turns out, had several things going for him.  

He told HOH he interned for Walz while back in college, so getting back in touch wasn’t all that difficult. And he said Emmer’s chief of staff, David FitzSimmons, had seen the show and urged the freshman lawmaker to participate.  

It probably also helped that Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., emerged unscathed from his encounter with Danger et al., earlier this year.  

Per Danger, pols have absolutely nothing to fear. As long as they know what they’re talking about.  

“We really try to build each show for those steeped in policy issues … and folks walking in off the street in search of a comedy show,” he said.  

While he relishes getting down into the weeds with all types of public figures, Danger heaped praise on his fellow performers — who act out the very subject matter drawn out by Danger’s one-on-one interviews with the guests, and also from the topics tossed out by audience members during Q&A sessions — for bringing these all important issues to life.  

“In some cases, the wonkier or drier it seems it’s going to be, the more fun it actually turns out to be,” Danger related. “It’s like a magic trick.”  

Their week’s worth of upcoming shows include:

  • Tackling the dichotomy of church and state Sunday from 8 to 9:30 p.m. at Dance Place (3225 Eighth St. NE);
  • Prodding CQ Roll Call alumnus Norm Ornstein to come clean about which is worse: D.C. politics or Minnesota winters, on Sept. 21 at 8 p.m. at Washington Improv Theater (1835 14th St. NW);
  • Huddling with Department of Transportation adviser Vinn White for a nuts and bolts talk about infrastructure Sept. 22 beginning at 8 p.m. at Logan Fringe Arts Space (1358 Florida Ave. NE);
  • Checking in with econ junkies about all things fiscal policy Sep. 23 at 8 p.m. at Washington Improv Theater;
  • Uniting Emmer and Walz for an in-depth discussion about the Gopher State Sept. 24 at 8 p.m. at Washington Improv Theater;
  • Picking journalist David Plotz’s brain about anything and everything Sept. 25 at 10 p.m. at Washington Improv Theater; and,
  • Getting legal watchdogs to dish about the Supreme Court Sept. 26 at 8 p.m. at Washington Improv Theater.

Tickets to the Dance Place appearance are free (attendees can claim a spot via Eventbrite); admission to the Capital Fringe- and Washington Improv Theater-supported shows are $15 ahead of time or $20 at the door.  

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