ART BEAT: OTC Comedy Troupe invokes laughter at Lionheart Theatre

OTC Comedy Troupe will bring the improvisational skills of talented comedic actors to the Lionheart Theatre stage on Saturday at 8 p.m. The evening promises to be an interactive and creative 90-minute experience which will be rated "PG-13."

Tickets are $10 per person. Lionheart Theatre is located at 10 College St. in Norcross.

OTC Comedy Troupe originated in Marietta in 2005 as "Comedy Cobb."

"We started to get offers to perform other places and then decided it was better to be called 'Off the Cobb' since we were doing performances outside of Cobb County," said Kelley Cody-Grimm, the group's spokesperson. "Eventually we dropped 'Off the Cobb' and became 'OTC Comedy Troupe."

The group's motto is "Laughter is the best medicine and it's also the cheapest!" The performers utilize improv and sketch comedy and use audience suggestions to create scenes on the spot.

"We try to keep it PG-13 because we sometimes get preteens and teens in the audience, and frankly, it's way more challenging to be funny and clean," Cody-Grimm said.

The troupe received the "Community Impact Award for Arts Ensemble or Collective" at the January ArtWorks! Gwinnett first awards ceremony. The group has also performed at Atlanta's Punchline and for diverse corporate audiences such as Georgia Governor's Summit on Customer Service, Street Smarts, Solvay International and AutoTrader.com among others.

The show will showcase the talents of Adrian Petty, who has been with the group from the beginning, Will Smith, Drea Lewis, Becca and Michael Parker, Mike Yow and Kelley Cody-Grimm.

The show will be a fast-paced evening of improvisational theatre that the audience helps create. Each 90-minute show is different because the audience interaction keeps the show new and exciting. Games such as "Clips and Phrases," "Tag Freeze" and "Instant Sitcom" are all created with the help of the audience members.

As a company, OTC Comedy Troupe offers a number of different types of performances. From "Fem-Prov" nights to Family Shows, where children's imaginations are called upon, to a Lunch and Laugh series, the group seems to have a show for every type of situation.

Specializing in Corporate Training sessions, with team building and learning presentation skills using theater techniques, OTC also offers teen and adult workshops. These workshops are fast-paced and teach the basics of improvisational skills in a supportive and relaxed atmosphere.

The group has also been available online.

"The web show evolved because we were having a hard time finding venues, and we decided to take the show to the Internet," Cody-Grimm said.

This proved to be highly successful.

"Our first show, we had 400 people watching, which was more than we could have gotten in some of the smaller venues we were working," she said. "By the time the show ended after being on for a year and a half, we had 225,000 views."

To find out more about OTC Comedy Troupe, visit www.otccomedytroupe.com or contact Cody-Grimm at 678-464-0115.

Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. Email her at hcalmes@mindspring.com.