Improvised Shakespeare Photo by David Lenk.

What’s in a name? For The Improvised Shakespeare Company, lots of laughs

Where is a look at some of the funniest show titles (so far)

Every performance of The Improvised Shakespeare Company‘s extended engagement at the Denver Center’s Garner Galleria Theatre is inspired by a title suggested by an audience member. This ensemble of five highly trained improv comedians then invent a full, one-time-only play based entirely on that title. How does that add up over time? Consider that, as of January 17, The Improvised Shakespeare Company has now created approximately 127 completely unique, unrehearsed plays during its three Denver visits – and it is scheduled to create 75 more before the current run ends on March 22.

From the prologue to the epilogue, this group of deft Shakespearean improvisers maintain a sense of play as they invent characters and plots that (most of the time) come off as remarkably faithful to Shakespeare himself. Granted, the Bard might not have chosen to end his little-known tragedy All Is True in a bloodbath involving a pack of feral … orphans. Then again: You try writing a completely new play every night, Shakespeare!

It all starts with the title, and from the thousands of fun suggestions this Chicago-born comedy company has taken and tackled over the years, founder Blaine Swen does have his personal favorites, among them The Rocky Hamlet Picture Show. He also recalls performing a show for students who chose the title Justin Bieber — as if that were a sober history play with the gravitas of Julius Caesar or Henry V. “We had to give Justin Bieber a lot of import,” added company member Joey Bland. “So in our story, he was this wandering knight who gets killed by the Brothers Jonas.”

Check out the complete list of The Improvised Shakespeare Company’s Denver titles

We thought we would mark the midway point of this popular phenomenon’s current Denver run with our completely subjective list of, if not the 10 best audience-suggested titles, then certainly 10 of the funniest that Denver audiences have come up with so far:

  1. A Midsummer’s Bowling League
  2. The Sonnets of the Lambs
  3. The Phantom of the Globe
  4. All’s Well That Ends in Hell
  5. Three Pussycats of Verona
  6. Much Ado About the Pancreas
  7. 12th Night Stand
  8. The Taming of the Beard
  9. The Goose, the Gladiator & the Grave
  10. The Mysterious Wet Willie

The Improvised Shakespeare Company is ‘the smartest dumb show you’ll ever see’

Photo gallery: The Improvised Shakespeare Company® in Denver

Improvised Shakespeare Photo by David Lenk.

The Improvised Shakespeare Company in Denver. Photo by David Lenk.

The Improvised Shakespeare Company®: Ticket information

The Improvised Shakespeare CompanyBased on an audience suggestion for a title for a play that has yet to be written, The Improvised Shakespeare Company® creates a fully improvised Shakespearean masterpiece right before your very eyes. Each of the players has brushed up on his “thee’s” and “thou’s” to bring you an evening of off-the-cuff comedy using the language and themes of William Shakespeare. All of the dialogue is said for the first time, the characters are created as you watch and if ever you’re wondering where the story is going … so are they. The night could reveal a tragedy, comedy or history. Each play is completely improvised, so each play is entirely new.

  • When: Performances through March 22, 2020
  • Where: Garner Galleria Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
  • Cast: The performers will rotate throughout the run. The ensemble through October 27 is Ross Bryant, Brendan Dowling, Randall Harr, Josh Logan and Blaine Swen
  • Tickets: Available by calling 303-893-4100, in person in the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex at 14th and Curtis streets or, online by clicking here:
  • Groups: Call 800-641-1222

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