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'Out Of <del>Africa</del> My Mind' Reviewed by The Apiary

Mar 13, 2015

Nick Zimmerman
Out Of Africa My Mind @ The UCBT

Few things are quite so painful as unrequited love, and Nick Zimmerman knows it all too well in his one-man memoir show, Out of Africa My Mind .

It's the weekend at the University of Chicago, and Zimmerman is pacing about his freshman dorm room, hoping that someone--anyone--will come to his theme party based on the 1985 blockbuster movie starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, Out of Africa. The audience quickly learns that Zimmerman, like all party hosts, threw the soiree largely to be near his One True Crush, Will Green, a guy whom Zimmerman had shared a touching moment with weeks earlier.

From there, we find that Zimmerman's love interest in Will escalates from crush to nearly life-altering obsession. Zimmerman assures me, 'The show's about me and making fun of me--not making fun of Will.' He adds, 'We're actually friends now.'

That anyone would throw a dorm party where guests are expected to recite lines karaoke-style from Out of Africa is pretty lame; that anyone would throw a dorm party and not serve alcohol is unthinkable. But it's this cluelessness that makes Zimmerman's show fun to watch.

Zimmerman is a generous performer who avoids the cheap laugh. As a result, the laughs find their way to him, mostly because his premises are so simple. Here is a man who creates his own trainwreck of an evening, and here he is years later guiding us through the debris.

Like most black-box shows, the transitions involve colored light. During which, Zimmerman creates a humorous tableau, shaded in crimson, reciting Streep's breathy voice with lines from the movie like: 'I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills.' Maybe it's just his pronunciation of 'Ngong Hills' that's funny. Or maybe it's his subsequent explanation of how he mimics Streep's Danish accent: 'You really have to go for the umlaut.'

Seated beneath an Out of Africa poster, Zimmerman avoids breaking the fourth wall by addressing the only guest at the party, a disposable engineering student named 'Ralph' who comprises several University of Chicago classmates, including 'a guy who lived in a single room with nothing but buckets of metal parts.' The scenes are all garnished appropriately--he bundles himself in a red, puffy jacket to brave the notorious South Side wind, he hoists a Ziploc bag filled with whole-wheat Fig Newtons and he is palpably excited as he preps himself at the computer before opening an email from Will.

As a barometer of any good show, the writing includes a few turns that render real sympathy from the audience: 'At the end of spring quarter I dropped out of school, moved home with my parents, and waited for Will to come... or for me to die.'

We first spotted Zimmerman as an improv neophyte in the Project Improviser web series, in which he finished in the final three. Since then, he has peformed at the UCB and also The Magnet, where he improvises with 'Commando.' Directed by John Flynn, Out of Africa My Mind can be seen Thursday, March 27, at the UCB with The Lance & Ray Show.
NY Shows

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Jon Glaser's Adult Swim Pilot Gets Picked Up

Mar 13, 2015

Jon Glaser's pilot Delocated has been picked up by Adult Swim. A live action docu-reali-mentary (a term he just made up) about a family in the witness protection program who are moved to New York city from the anonymous small town the government placed them in, the show will also star Kevin Dorff as the federal agent assigned to protect the family, and Eugene Mirman as the member of the Russian mob that has been assigned to kill Jon.
NY General

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WrestleslamMania III, & Gravid Water in NY Press

Mar 13, 2015


Plenty of themed alt-comedy for the risk averse 

So They're Into... Sports Entertainment!

The WWE is pretty hilarious on its own, but the UCB Theatre's wrestling federation, the UCBW, pays such good attention to the details of the genre, it feels less like a satirical mockery and more of a hyper-hilarious homage to the dramatic sport. Just like real wrestling, there are shocking heel turns, referees who are distracted by shiny objects and promos that get you pumped. The announcers, Ben Rodgers (The Captain) and Eric Scott (TT Billingsworth) are so easily excited by all the action, it's impossible not to get caught up in their hysteria too. Leave the Papa Roach Special Edition iPod at home, the UCBW is the only distraction you need.

So They're Into... The theater!

Theater people may have already happened upon blurbs for Gravid Water, a show featuring professional stage actors spouting memorized lines from real plays while a superstar improviser makes up the other half of the dialogue. It sounds like a train wreck on paper, but the results don't seem to stray too far from the script. The secret? To put it in context, if someone in real life says, "How are you?" you probably wouldn't respond with, "Chicken Pot Pies are delicious!" There are only a couple ways for an improviser to logically take his or her side of the conversation, so the scenes unfold naturally with a touch of quirky charm.

NY Shows

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