An Improvable Key West Experience

Key West Palm Tree. Definitely not on Duval Street.

Tourists by the hundreds sauntered down Duval Street in Key West, the same street as last night, looking in shop windows, eating overpriced seafood and stopping by famous bars to see Jimmy Buffet, a hippie pirate, or the ghost of Hemingway.  Instead they only found other chubby tourists half-blitzed since 2 p.m. sitting on the stools where those now-famous folks once sat.

Looking for local culture was as easy as picking up the local paper.  The tourists picked up the brochures for PARASAILING!  DEEP-SEA FISHING!  SUNSET CRUISES! We reached for the weekly Key West paper, whose audience was not drunken tourists, but drunken locals.  We learned which bars had industry nights and happy hours for locals.  We discovered where the locals ate (which cost 40% less than the tourist restaurants).  If a local restaurant disappoints, the locals will not return, and they will either improve or go out of business.  If a tourist restaurant disappoints, there will always be another cruise ship full of suckers docking tomorrow.

I was drawn to an ad for a $5 show to see the Improvables, a local improv troupe.  Either they needed improvement, or it was improbable that they were funny.  What the heck.  We’re on vacation!

We arrived by taxi at 6:00 to buy tickets for the 8 o’clock show.  While the troupe practiced onstage, the ticket taker materialized from the back of the darkened room, shocked that people would buy a ticket in advance.  After dinner at “the best Chinese restaurant in Key West,” it was back to the sixty-seat strip mall showroom.

This was their only show of the week, certainly not staged for out-of-towners.  The man next to me was married to one of the performers, a woman of a certain age, who shared the stage with a diverse cast of all colors (with a Brit thrown in for good measure) from their twenties to their sixties.  Like all improv, it was hit-or-miss, but the laugh-out-loud bits overshadowed the awkward silences, leaving us with an improbable memory that no other tourist to Key West experienced that week.

For $5 we had a unique experience, a memory which could not be duplicated in Cancun or South Padre.  Plus there’s always tomorrow for parasailing.

Related Posts:

This entry was posted in Destinations, Essence of Travel and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to An Improvable Key West Experience

  1. This is funny, I am the Brit thrown in for good measure. I was googling my Imprv group and found this. Glad you found us and came out to see us. Next time you come you should check out our new show and new venue. We now have a Saturday Night Comedy Cruise with the Improvables. Comedy on a boat every Saturday night! Again geared for locals but many tourists come on out every week too. Key west is a great place to live, but it’s also a tough place to live and we aim to give the locals something local, something secret and something different to do.

    • matthew says:

      Hi Brit Thrown in for Good Measure,

      I’m there next time I make it out to Key West! Glad you like us tourists, too. Vacations need something that doesn’t include Drunk New Yorker Vomiting Daiquiri on Me (capitalized because that’s a proper name).


      • Ha!!! Been there done that. Glad you discovered that those of us that live here don’t run around 24/7 naked, smoking massive joints and drowing our happiness in Margaritas from sunrise to sunrise. Actually I may have been guilty of the last one, once or twice, but hey when in Rome right??

  2. Matt K says:

    Hey! I’m a member of the Improvables and found your post googling us. I am glad you enjoyed yourself! Come see us next time you are in town. We just launched our new website. Every Saturday night we do a Comedy Cruise now.

Leave a Reply