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UA comedy troupe brings clean laughs to the Cellar

By Ian Caruth
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
February 24, 2000
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At an Ambidextrous Armada show, you'll hear lots of things laughter, singing, improv and scripted comedy.

But one thing you won't hear is a lot of profanity.

"It's almost too easy to swear and get a laugh," said Armada co-founder Adam Felson, a business management sophomore.

The fledgling University of Arizona comedy troupe takes an unusual track for college comedy. They keep their material mostly clean and family-friendly.

Though the improvised material can stray into more prurient subjects, the majority of their scripted skits are free of swearing and both graphic sexual and scatological humor.

And, amazingly, they're still funny.

Their well-attended hour-long are at 10 p.m. every Tuesday in the Memorial Student Union Cellar. Along with the comedy routine, the show also features a special musical guest.

The Armada is the brainchild of Felson and undeclared sophomore Adam Berkowitz, who met in the Manzanita-Mohave Residence Hall.

"We were just sitting there one day, and out of the blue, we decided to form a comedy troupe," says Felson.

He admits that some influence from other comedy collectives affected the development of the group.

"We were inspired by the Charles Darwin Experience," Felson said, referring to another UA comic group. "We also adapted some stuff from Saturday Night Live. For instance, if they hadn't had a musical guest we probably wouldn't have either."

The group is made up of eight men and five women each of whom are pursuing diverse academic interests such as business, theater, and creative writing.

Not all the group members perform at all shows, however.

"That's one of the good things about having such a big group," Felson said. "It's a big time commitment with two rehearsals and one show a week, so sometimes people can't make it."

Not surprisingly, in a college atmosphere, the Armada does not have much trouble coming up with material for their sketches.

At one recent show, topics included dating, the RSVP registration system, the Warner Brothers network and soap operas.

"We have a rotating archive of sketches-in-progress," Felson said. "(Subject matter) depends on what sketches are chosen from the archive."

Felson said the origin of the name of the Ambidextrous Armada is two-fold.

"We wanted to have two words that didn't really mean anything together," he said. "Plus, the initials are also the initials of me and Adam, who founded it."

Felson hopes the Ambidextrous Armada will be a legacy at the UA.

"My dream is to come back in 10 years to an AA show and not know any of the players," Felson admitted. "I hope it will continue that long."

Though he admits much of their audience comes from the dorms, he encourages all students to attend their shows.

"It's a free show. And a great way to relieve stress. There's not nearly enough laughter in the world," Felson said.

Perhaps someday fame awaits the members of the Ambidextrous Armada, in the same manner that groups like the Groundlings and the State have come to prominence.

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