January 22, 2004 - Patriot Ledge: Honduras RPCV Howard Bean is improv comic in Boston

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Honduras: Peace Corps Honduras: The Peace Corps in Honduras: January 22, 2004 - Patriot Ledge: Honduras RPCV Howard Bean is improv comic in Boston

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Honduras RPCV Howard Bean is improv comic in Boston

Honduras RPCV Howard Bean is improv comic in Boston

Improv is hot, and these South Shore comics are leading the pack

Howard Bean's classmates from Weymouth High most likely remember him as "that JFK guy." Few would imagine him on stage, licking someone's boot in an improv sketch.

"I was really into the Kennedy assassination," said Bean, who now teaches Spanish at South Shore Charter School in Hull. "I had a friend - after school all we would do is research it like little nerds. We didn't really find out anything."

Bean, 29, has come a long way from the teenage conspiracy theorist. Now he belongs to the Boston area's newest and fastest- growing improv troop, The Tribe, which performs at 8 p.m. every Thursday at the Cantab Lounge in Cambridge. The Tribe is the brainchild of Neraj Tuli, a former computer consultant with a passion for improv comedy. Last June, he started auditions and formed The Tribe. It's grown to 48 members.

So far, Tuli has been successful in his mission to unite many members of Boston's improv scene. "There are talented little pockets everywhere," said the 30-year-old Allston resident. "They're reinventing the wheel each week." He envisioned The Tribe as an artists' collaborative - a group that would encompass improv performers, filmmakers, dancers, musicians, visual artists and other creative types.

Within the Tribe, there are several smaller improv groups: Bean is a member of "Big in Japan." Others include "Milt," "Improvmosis" and "Starship Imagination."

At the Cantab Lounge, Tuli's Tribe found a venue and an audience. When you go to a show, called "The Tribe Presents," there's only the loosest of formats defining the evening's entertainment.

On a recent Thursday, the host warmed up the audience with a short stand-up routine, followed by two more stand-up acts. Then three sets of improv capped off the 2 1/2-hour show.

The downstairs of the Cantab, if not full to capacity, was very crowded that night. The walls are black, with the downstairs bar's name - "The Third Rail" - scrawled in red across the wall behind the stage. Waitresses move deftly among the tables, bringing bar food and drinks. The stage itself is small and runs right into the audience space. But the tight quarters make for an interactive and energetic show.

After he pried his nose out of JFK books, Bean went to UMass- Dartmouth to study political science.

But his real awakening came when he volunteered with AmeriCorps in San Diego.

"If there was any getting rolling with comedy, it was there," Bean said. "We were goofing around all the time."

Later, while in Honduras with the Peace Corps, Bean grew more confident in his ability to make an audience laugh. The skit he and his friends put put on, spoofing Honduran radio, gave Bean his first taste of actor's adrenaline.

"It seems like when I got further away from where I grew up, I got stronger," Bean said. His stage presence is as endearing and quirky as he is. His characters often simultaneously appear bewildered and innocent. "I'm a big, important carpenter," he declared while his group spoofed a self-help group during the show. Minutes later he was a nerdy high school chess club Mafia Don, looking for a Michelle Pfeiffer-like girlfriend.

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Story Source: Patriot Ledge

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Honduras; Comedy; Humor; Improvisation; Acting



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