SENIOR STAFF WRITER
Standup at the Backline is a thoroughly enjoyable experience. People will get up and perform, regulars surely. Some will do well, and others will flounder. Yet still, the crowd claps, and they laugh along. This isn’t about becoming a great professional, or about mastery. It’s about fun, it emphasizes community and it offers relief for the stressors of daily life.
There are two rooms, one presumably for the various events and then the other, behind velvet cloth reminiscent of that creepy hotel in “Twin Peaks” was the stage. It’s all unpretentious, but charming nonetheless.
Performing there is beyond nerve-racking. There’s no assurance the material is any good. There could be an infinite amount of thought and care put into the material, the comic could think they’re the most hilarious individual on earth, and yet still, they can land with a thud. Despite all of this, the crowd will humor any comic who gets up and tries. It’s all about maintaining a good vibe.
The Backline is primarily known for improv. A wide variety of events are booked from across the state and even in Iowa. There’s Experimental 3somes, which follows an hour of 3-person improv teams. They are all relatively obscure and the goal is to get their names out. The next one is one April 27 and tickets are three dollars, as they are for most of the shows here.
There’s another event known as My Giant. Nick Rowley and Jon Herman take you on an adventure through the magical realm of My Giant “where you can meet anyone from a caustic mountain man struggling to understand his effeminate son to two pilots who struggle with memories of absentee fathers while making the inflight announcements.”
They are on every fourth Thursday at 9pm featuring a special new opening act every month.
Interrogated is a fast-paced and adult-friendly improv where we’ll ask you, the audience, to confess stories from a time where you got away with something. Maybe you stole a brownie from a roommate or spun cookies in a football field-either way we’ll take them as long as they are true. Then Backline’s finest improvisers create scenes based off those stories.
Interrogated plays every Friday night.
The Holograms is Des Moines’ first, and only, all female improv team. Their lady long-form is not only high energy, but sharp and full of satire, guaranteed to make you forget the state of the union, even if just for one evening. Sometimes family-friendly, sometimes dirtier than the cops in Training Day, the Holograms gals will keep you engaged from their first line to their last.
They go on stage every fourth Friday at 8pm.
The Backline is a rare oddity that many cities can afford. A corner of Omaha that offers vivacity, community, and unpredictability. The people are easy to talk to, they have to be one of the easiest group of people to network with. It’s hard not to want to go back again.