The Alamaniacs are locals doing improv that often involves audience members.
It’s improv using local talent and audience participation.
“Funameda” is a word that Patti Cary, a second-generation Alamedan, made up many years ago to describe quality events and local talent in Alameda. Today, Funameda is the official name of her production company on the Island, which Cary runs as artistic director with her husband, Mark Taxy, as partner and business manager. The mission of Funameda is to provide quality entertainment and events on the Island, to promote up-and-coming local talent, and to contribute to the community in creative and positive ways. One manifestation of that mission is their improv comedy group, The Alamaniacs.
The Alamaniacs started in 2015 with five players and four successful sold-out shows at High Street Station. The group has grown to 12 players for the second season, which launched on Oct. 8 at Rhythmix Cultural Works. The next show will be Nov. 18, with new shows anticipated every six weeks.
Eight of the 12 players are Alamedans, in keeping with Cary’s desire to focus on fostering local talent. In addition, many of the improv sketches begin by asking audience members for local references, such as names of Alameda restaurants. And from there they go, improvising around all kinds of games that audience members might recognize from shows like Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Laugh-In, or vaudeville. Audience members are invited to participate and are often asked on stage as well. One crowd favorite is the sound-effects game, in which audience members assign a sound effect to each player. Hilarity usually ensues.
Cary came to love improv comedy after visiting London and spending time with her cousin, who is a stand-up comedian there. Cary knew that she wanted to bring this kind of entertainment to her own community in Alameda. She also knew that she wanted the entertainment to benefit the community, not just in terms of bringing quality productions to local venues, but also by finding and nurturing local talent, and offering benefit productions to help local causes. Funameda became that venture.
Cary’s Funameda started Alameda Haunts, a Halloween house-decorating contest and canned food drive in support of the Alameda Food Bank. The popular event has raised more than 6,000 pounds of canned good donations over the last eight years. In addition, last year, the Alamaniacs had a benefit production to help raise funds for Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter.
To help nurture local talent, Funameda also grants an annual Alamaniacs Appreciation Award for a resident improv member who has shown outstanding teamwork and dedication to craft. Last year, the Season 1 award went to Chris Posadas who was granted a scholarship for continuing acting courses.
Taxy is not only the business manager and musical director of Funameda and The Alamaniacs; he is also the impresario and piano player. Cary sometimes also emcees their productions.
Catch the Alamaniacs next show at Rhythmix Cultural Works at 2515 Blanding Avenue in Alameda on Nov. 18 at 7:30 p.m. For more information: www.Facebook.com/alamaniacs.
Published online on Nov. 14, 2016 at 8:00 a.m.