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'Pimprov' is irreverent, but with a heart

Founder Marz Timms talks about his politically incorrect creation

July 16th, 2019 1:33 PM

Marz Timms | Photo submitted

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By Michael Romain

Staff Reporter

Last Saturday, the irreverent comedy show "Pimprov" — premised on four pimps who accidently take improv classes at Chicago's famed Second City comedy company and, as a result, try to put on a show of their own that's heavy on audience interaction — debuted at the Open Door Theater, 902 S. Ridgeland Ave. in Oak Park last week.

The show will play once more at Open Door on July 20. Part of the proceeds will go to a domestic abuse shelter in Chicago. Ticket info can be found at opendoortheater.net.

If the show's idea, on its surface, repulses you, please check your impulses, says the show's founder, Oak Park comedian and actor Marz Timms, 47. 

"People do tend to run away from the name," Timms said in a recent interview. "But honestly, if you think we're actual pimps doing comedy -- I mean, that flies in the face of what we're trying to do. We're actors with families, wives, daughters. We're not on-stage slapping people around or anything like that. The humor is seeing these macho characters who have to go out of form to play a mom or a tree or a dog." 

The irony of a comedy show about pimps that donates part of its proceeds to domestic abuse shelters (Sarah's Inn in Oak Park has been a recipient of the largesse in the past) isn't lost on Timms, who said that he was inspired to include a philanthropic element to his show because of his mother's community activism. 

Timms, a West Side native who moved to Oak Park at a young age, said that his show has been around for 15 years. He said he wanted to create a show around pimps, because they're great characters. 

"The show makes fun of how flashy they are -- the outfits, the behavior," Timms said. "The comedy comes from the fish out of water concept and these are characters trying to play other characters, as best they can."

The Oak Park and River Forest High School graduate said he knows that this explanation won't always be enough to assuage some people who bristle at the very notion of a comedy show about one of the most reviled archetypes in American society.

"If you don't like pimps, that's fine," Timms said. "I don't like pimps, either, but they're funny the way we portray them. A lot of people who don't like our show will be the first in line to see 'Miss Saigon' [which features a villainous pimp]. With us, it's like, 'All black pimps! No!' But 'Miss Saigon?' That's fine.'" 

Despite the show's politically incorrect premise, "Pimprov" has generated a solid national following and a string of enthusiastic reviews in publications like Ebony magazine ("If you want gratuitous humor laced with sharp social-political observations, this is the show"), the Charleston City Paper ("Pimprov has funny going on before they even open their mouths")  and the Chicago Tribune ("Politically correct, no. Funny, yes"). 

As for Timms, who works full-time in entertainment, from appearing in the Netflix show "Easy" to hosting Chicago Bulls games and appearing in a Lowe's commercial, the show has allowed him to help the careers of many well-known comedians, such as Hannibal Burress, who once opened for "Pimprov." 

Timms' said his ambition is to take "Pimprov," in all of its offbeat, politically incorrect splendor, to Las Vegas. 

"I've always wanted to take it to Vegas," he said. "We can't use our fog machine at Open Door." 

CONTACT: michael@oakpark.com