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iO's Armando Diaz Experience Gets Real

PhotobucketThis week’s Armando Diaz Experience was more muscular than ever thanks to the presence of human giant Joey Kovar, one of the cast members of MTV’s The Real World Hollywood. The reality show, now in its 20th spectacular year, features the iO West as the housemates’ workplace and theater owner Charna Halpern as their boss.

From a strictly aesthetic perspective, Kovar isn’t the type of person many would associate with the improv scene. Dressed in a sleeveless hoodie, his bulging biceps and chiseled chest make him look like He-Man. Meanwhile a star-studded cast, which included the slender Jet Eveleth, the portly Brian Jack, the waifish Pat O’Brien and the stocky Noah Gregoropoulos, waited in the wings to perform.

For those not familiar with the Armando, it is a format where a guest delivers a monologue, and the cast then uses the story to color their improvised scenes. After a few scenes, the monologist delivers another tale and the sequence repeats. For this show, Halpern and Kovar took the stage together, with Halpern interviewing Kovar about his experiences both on and off camera.

Kovar, who is a recovering alcoholic, described his battle with addiction candidly. He also discussed his experience on the show, giving the inside scoop on his housemates.

The Armando cast refused to hold back from touchy subjects, battling alcoholism head-on in a recurring scene about a play called The Smell of Honey. Even The Real World itself was lampooned when performer Alex Fendrich grabbed a video camera from the front row and followed performers in a scene.

The night ended on a sober note, with Kovar taking the stage to warn others about the dangers of alcohol and drug addiction.

The Armando Diaz Experience is every Monday at iO at 8:30 pm in the upstairs Del Close Theater. Each week the all-star cast welcomes a new monologist to share personal stories that inspire improvised scenes. Tickets are $12.

-- image from iO's website

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