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Satirical Race Theory makes comedy look easy

The phrase “white spaces” evokes quite a few strong images. Kohl’s. The LDS Church. Late-night talk show desks. Bar Harbor, Maine. And, for too many comics, improv clubs. It’s no secret that the sketch, stand-up, and improv worlds have long been incubators for exclusion and toxicity as much as laughter, and clubs have—to varying levels of sincerity—been working to answer calls for accountability. So it would be reasonable to feel some anxiety on behalf of the cast of Satirical Race Theory, a new all-Black troupe whose primetime Saturday night run at iO must come with some degree of rep sweats or undue pressure.   

Satirical Race Theory 
Through 7/1: Sat 8 PM; iO Theater, 1501 N. Kingsbury, ioimprov.com, $30 ($15 student)

If the confident performance by the opening night cast of Andrew Baldwin, TJ King, Kim Whitfield, Cyntisha Coats, Coco Fernandez, and Elim Almedom is to be any indication, though, audiences should feel those concerns assuaged. It’s an all-around strong showing from an ensemble that very much has the goods and functions as a creative unit more seasoned and matured than its recent formation would suggest. They even function well in the most harrowing and uncanny of comedic assignments: the local news affiliate daytime lifestyle show promo hit. 

Of course, the mettle of a troupe isn’t tested when the bits are flyin’ free and easy but rather when they aren’t, and even when they’re navigating the premise-woods, Satirical Race Theory’s ensemble keeps its momentum apace. Charming and affable, Baldwin excels when he steps in as host, and at opening, Whitfield and King had particularly memorable sets. Even the opening hype act by dance ensemble The Puzzle League feels like a fresh take.

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