'Missy Moreno & Friends: A Musicomical Adventure' arrives at The Arcade Comedy Theater

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Missy Moreno is on a mission of growing the comedy scene in Pittsburgh.

And you can do more than just sit back and laugh tonight and Saturday at The Arcade Comedy Theater in the Cultural District, Downtown. You can participate.

It’s “Missy Moreno & Friends: A Musicomical Adventure,” two evenings of slightly different, slightly off-beat experimental and improvisational comedy.

“It will be myself being a warm host who will take you on a roller coaster ride of a variety of acts based out of the comedy scene,” Ms. Moreno said. “There will be musical improvisation, a musical created right on the spot based on audience suggestion. It’s a night of participatory time — and it’s BYOB, which is a fun way to enjoy yourself at a very modest price.

“It’s not as rigid as a stage show, so the fourth wall isn’t there as much. I’ll make it all clear during my intro and my banter. It’s kind of like we’re all going to laugh together.”

Ms. Moreno first laughed in Munhall, where she was born.

“Growing up in the Steel Valley, I found comedy as a tool of fun and survival,” she said. “I was immediately attracted to the drama scene that was flourishing. And I always sang in my church. I was an arts kid, which was kind of strange in that community.”

She attended Point Park University to study theater, but then a funny thing happened: comedy.

“I ended up realizing that comedy was its own path you could follow,” she said.

So she went to Chicago, home of the famous Second City troupe, where she studied at their Improv Conservatory. There was a lot of learning, a lot of performing, and a lot of desire to come back home.

“I trained under some of the greatest names in comedy, but my heart was always in Pittsburgh,” she said. “I just love it here.”

Her return to Pittsburgh last year coincided with the start of the Arcade Comedy Theater, where she performs and works as an instructor.

“It’s so exciting to be part of the comedy scene that has just blown up here over the past year,” she said. “All of my shows, including the ones tonight and tomorrow, I’m integrating my theatrical connections. I’ve been finding improvisers and sketch artists. And now I teach here. I was like, ‘Wow, I guess I did learn a lot.’”

A lot of planning has gone into these improvs.

Tonight’s show will feature Nathan Zoob, Anna C. Reilly, Matt Hartman, Brett Bavar, Benjamin Saalback-Walsh and Jesse Landis-Eigsti.

Saturday’s show, which will be presented as a kind of wacky version of “Live With Kelly and Michael,” includes Jared Pascoe, Mike Buzzelli, Jethro Nolen, Mr. Walsh, Mr. Hartman and Brian Edward.

“This is all new. We haven’t done any of this before,” Ms. Moreno said. “I like doing this because I feel inspired to have a voice that comes out through collaborations with other artists. The Pittsburgh comedy scene is really starting to grow and reach the level of Chicago, L.A., D.C. There’s finally emergence where you don’t have to leave Pittsburgh to succeed. We’re adding to the comedy conversation, establishing us as a contributor to the American comedy scene.”

It’s the perfect place for her.

“I get to have an audience filled with people from Homestead, who have known me since I was a kid, and absolute strangers who want to see a professional comedy show in the Downtown Cultural District,” she said. “And I can’t get that anywhere else in the world.

“I get my voice and I get to gather my experiences and get to deliver that to known and unknown people. The fun thing for me in my artistry is I love to make people feel at home. Which, to me, is the Pittsburgh spirit that I’ve taken with me anywhere I’ve ever traveled. People say, ‘Wow, I feel like I know you.’ And that’s an important quality for comedians to have, Like Ellen DeGeneres.

“I feel like comedy has become a new sport, and I want to be the Myron Cope telling people to come watch this.”

Yoi and Double Yoi!

“Missy Moreno & Friends” starts at 8 tonight and Saturday at Arcade Comedy Theater, 811 Liberty Ave., Downtown. Admission is $10.


If you have a suggestion for something to do some evening, let us know about it and we'll see if we can get some of our friends to join you! Contact Dan Majors at dmajors@post-gazette.com.

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