The Heist is a dramatic improvised show about a 1970’s bank robbery gone wrong and I wrote it because I wanted more drama in my life. Pretty literally.
I have been doing improvisational comedy for almost 20 years and I love it, it is really what I enjoy doing the most in the world. But I used to act professionally and I missed the drama, I missed the character arcs and the story, and the feeling when you hear an audience suck in air when something unexpected and tense happens. At the risk of being immodest, I know I can make people laugh, I wanted to make them feel other emotions as well. I make things up on the spot, I’m not writer and didn’t trust myself to write it, so I did the next best thing. I got some of the best improvisers I know and I had them make it up for me. Again and again and again. The result is The Heist.
I based the plot off a true story from Brooklyn (my hometown). In August 1972, a man named John Wojtowicz, robbed a bank. Well, he tried to rob a bank. It didn’t go as planned and he was trapped in the bank with his partner and some hostages. The cops and media showed up and it didn’t go well. They made a fantastic movie about it call “Dog Day Afternoon.” This is not that movie and it doesn’t try to be.
Instead, I took the core of that situation, the robbery and the hostage situation and stripped it down to its essence, the characters and the motivations. I asked what would cause someone to rob a bank and what are all the people in that orbit’s reactions to that? I took the things that will happen naturally in a bank robbery, like the cops showing up and the tensions with hostages, and added improv into the mix. Every show’s audience will pick the robber’s motivations and give the bank employees character traits and then we will make the rest of the show up. We change the cast and their roles every night, so every show is totally different from the last. It is not a comedy, though it will probably make you laugh, in the beginning at least.
We’re telling the story of a bank robbery, but really we are telling so much more. We are telling the story of a man struggling to pay his medical bills or of a woman trying to save her family’s home. We are telling the story of a bank teller who just wants to go home to her cats and of a security guard who’s one purpose in life was to protect people and he just failed. Every night we are telling different stories, but they all relate to living and dying and of just trying to survive, both inside the bank and in real life. We are telling true stories.
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When the show is over, I want people to see what we did and maybe think about what they would be willing to rob a bank for, what they would be willing to go to jail for, what they would be willing to kill for, what they would be willing to die for.
This show was an exciting challenge to create and execute. Part play with its props, rotating assigned roles, and lighting and sound effects and part improv show with all improvised dialogue, you never know where it is going to go. I’ve never seen any show like it and I hope you come enjoy it with us.
Joe Randazzo is the Creator/Director of The Heist premiering at the 2019 Capital Fringe Festival. Joe is a founding member of the comedy troupes Jive Turkey, the Four Heads, and Madeline. Joe performed dramatic improv on WIT’s Citizens’ Watch and Die! Die! Die! Joe is also a proud member of Sistine Robot and his team Double Date won last year’s annual F.I.S.T comedy Championship.
Joe has been doing comedy since 2000, studied at the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York, Annoyance Theater in Chicago, and at the DC Improv. Joe has performed in the Del Close Marathon, the Providence Improv Fest, the Richmond Comedy Fest, and the District Improv Festival.
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