Dark Comedy: 30,000 Kilohertz of Sound

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People laughed in the dark last night at [Magnet Theater.] And no one was hurt (I think).

The dark improv show, [30,000 Kilohertz of Sound], is the brainchild of comedian Shawn Wickens. While suffering from insomnia, he listened to "Coast to Coast," the late-night, whacked-out AM radio show, where discussions about aliens and ghosts are regular fare, and an idea came to him. He would create a show where the random voices of radio hosts would inspire some improv comedy.

“I had insomnia, so somebody suggested self-hypnosis,” said Wickens. “So I was experimenting with that. I would leave the radio on as something to focus on to. I was in the euphoric state, listening to this weird show.

Last night, about 10 people waited for the show to begin. Mostly other folks from the improv community. Incense burned. Reggae music played. At 9:30 pm, right on time, a man appeared on the stage to warn us the lights were going off and we’d be listening several skits based on random talk radio. Someone cracked open a PBR can.

Strange radio crackling and beeping filled our ears. Wickens was in the back in a sound booth fiddling with a short wave radio the size of toolbox. Some voices came on. They were talking about insurance, or doctors, I think. It didn’t matter. What did matter was what the comedians back stage would do with the sound clip of material they were just given.

The skits that followed went from peace talks to bone pens in Pakistan and talking elephants in India. One skit about road rage quickly moved to blaming Martians for the incessant traffic.

The show stays true to the wacky roots it came from. And if you can spare 45 minutes and $5 to listen to about nine people’s stream of consciousness, I totally recommend it.

The next show is set to take place on Jan. 30. And I'm sure it won't be the last.

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