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Smell the comedy 

The A.C.E. comedy troupe spices up Manitou

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Denver's improvisational sketch comedy troupe A.C.E. (that's American, Canadian and Englishman) knows a thing or two about catching the public's eye.

Entertainment journalists often get all manners of promotional items, but rarely is meat part of the package. And yet bacon came in the A.C.E. press folder, neatly encased in a little baggie, with a sticker declaring "With our compliments."

"We like to split people's focus. During our shows, we often fry bacon backstage," said Linda Klein, member of A.C.E. "There's this permeating scent, and people would be watching the comedy, but a part of them is thinking, 'Is that bacon?'"

The two-time Best of Denver award-winning troupe will be displaying their antics Jan. 20-22 at the Venue 515 theater at the Business of Art Center. The performances are presented by the Manitou Art Theater, and A.C.E.'s act is one that will appeal to all audiences and is appropriate for all age groups.

A.C.E. is made up of Klein (the American), Barbara Gehring (the Canadian), and Matthew Taylor (the Englishman), and the troupe's origin is just as improvisational as their act.

Heavily involved in the theater community in Denver, the three knew each other but were performing improv with other groups. In 1998, HBO came to town to audition performers for the annual Aspen Comedy Festival. The trio was grouped together at the audition, and it went well. "The folks at HBO wanted our promo kit. And we were like, 'Oh ... our promo kit is in the ... car,'" said Klein. They ran quickly to a Kinko's to dash off an impromptu press kit, and the rest, as they say, is history.

A.C.E. performs several different shows, with entire performances being done on stilts or with water or all in the color green. The show in Manitou Springs will be the Festival of the Senses. "It's for people to taste and/or smell all the different types of comedy we do," Klein said. "It's all about the unexpected."

-- Kara Luger

capsule A.C.E. comedy troupe

Venue 515, Business of Art Center, 515 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs

Thursday-Saturday, Jan. 20-22, 8 p.m.

Tickets: $14

Call 685-4729 or go to www.themat.org for reservations and information.

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