Funny Business

Let's play a game.

Let's play a game.

Quickly now: What's 10 years old and a venue for improvisational comedy in the Warehouse District?

Hurry, the clock is ticking!

OK, more clues: Its shows take place late on Friday and Saturday nights, and it's named after an art movement that prized spontaneity.

Ding, ding, ding! Time's up.

The answer is Cabaret Dada. Never heard of it? Not surprising. The company has always kept a low profile. But this month, as Dada turns 10, it's time to share the laughter.

After midnight, the bars are winding down but the 12 cast members, half with beers in hand, are still buzzing from their just-completed show.

Under these circumstances, a formal interview is impossible. The Dadas are trained experts at interrupting each other's sentences. They've spent the previous two hours doing exactly that, and their energy is still peaking.

Ten years must seem like an eternity to the Dadas, who deal with minutes or seconds. Located literally underground, the theater is the place to go for impromptu comedy skits similar to those on the television show "Whose Line Is It Anyway?"

Director Russel Stich (referred to respectfully as "The Russ"), Jeff Blanchard, Stan Morse and a group of other actors founded the nonprofit Something Dada Improvisational Comedy Company in October 1994. Stich, the only original member still doing the show, left Dada for two years to star in "Tony n' Tina's Wedding" at Playhouse Square, but came back once that show's long run finally ended. "When you're a Dada, you're a Dada for life," he explains.

All former Dadas have been invited to join in the shows at their regular times May 20 and 21. Stich predicts "one big, self-indulgent, self-congratulatory" weekend.

Nobody gets paid at Cabaret Dada. Among their ranks are a computer programmer, an art director and a pizza delivery man. Yet, they all get hands-on comedy experience, weekly training with a professional coach and the sort of fun they won't find anywhere else. This is a labor of love for them, Stich says.

And the audience gets the last laugh.

Regular showtimes for Cabaret Dada, 1210 W. Sixth St., are 10:30 p.m. Fridays and 8 and 10:30 p.m. Saturdays. (216) 696-4242 or visit www.cabaretdada.com

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