Each month, The Improvised Book Club, an ensemble of some of Phoenix’s best improvisers, chooses a different book to read. Then, on the fourth Sunday of the month, they get together at Space 55 to discuss the book in an open setting and providing their unique take on things. Oprah’s Book Club this is not…

I had the pleasure of attending this past month’s discussion on World War Z by Max Brooks. (Fun aside: Max Brooks is the son of famous director and funnyman Mel Brooks.) World War Z is a fictionalized collection of firsthand experiences and interviews from survivors 10 years after a war between the living and undead (read: zombies) that nearly wiped out humanity.

The discussion was lively, with all members of the group commenting on topics ranging from how fighting a war against zombies cannot be done in a traditional sense, and how that parallels current world events, to society’s obsession with famous people and reality television, which plays into a section of the book.

Periodically, the group would create fictitious scenes based upon the themes and ideas presented in the source material. These scenes included a healthy dose of pop culture references and had the audience laughing heartily. Where else would you find subject matter ranging from the Jonas Brothers, to anthropomorphic tumors, to the online difficulties zombies would have with CAPTCHAs, to the reinvigoration of the Weekend at Bernie’s franchise?

After the discussion, The Improvised Book Club followed with 10 minutes of straight-up improvisation. As with the scenes during the discussion, the subject matter varied widely, from conjoined police officers to how the District of Columbia came to be.

Next month’s book is Aldous Huxley’s classic and controversial science fiction novel Brave New World.

Space 55 is located at 636 E. Pierce St. For more information, call 602.663.4032.