Last Tango in Albuquerque—The rumors have proven true. Gorilla Tango, the comedy improv theater that opened Downtown in 2004, officially closed its doors on Jan. 1. The owners cited poor management and insufficient public support as reasons for the closure.
“Unfortunately in [Gorilla Tango's] time in Albuquerque,” wrote Dan Abbate, one of the founders, in his official announcement of the closing, “the owners have come to the conclusion that the general population of Albuquerque doesn't react positively in any meaningful numbers to Improvisation.”
Official complaining aside, more likely reasons for the closing include an overly ambitious weekly schedule and a lack of a liquor license. The truth is that it's easier to tolerate mediocre improv when you're a little bit liquored. When you're faced with a sober audience, you've got to set the bar much higher, and in my experience Gorilla Tango only occasionally met a high enough standard. The truth is that the funniest shows I saw there were produced by people from outside the organization.
For now, Abbate is focusing on the new Gorilla Tango Theater he opened in Chicago late last year. I talked to him by phone from Chicago after I heard the news and asked him how business was going with the new venture. He said it was going very well but admitted that Chicago's liberal BYOB policy makes the lack of a liquor license more tenable in his old hometown than in Albuquerque.
We wish Gorilla Tango the best of luck. Hopefully, the Burque theater they did such an excellent job of renovating can be used by another entertainment company—perhaps a homegrown one that better understands our city and the neighborhood.