Miss D.C. is a comedian.

No joke. Elva Anderson, who represented the District in the 1989 Miss Universe pageant, regularly gets up on stage and acts goofy.


She's part of a nine-member troupe called Odd Cargo (formerly Improvisation Inc.), a mixture of real people, such as law firm receptionists and recreation staffers, and show people, i.e., "full-time actors-slash-comedians-slash-models," says Lisa Wormser, comedian and administrator for the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

"We're one of the few groups in Washington that do 100 percent improv," she says. "There's a lot of intimacy in what we do, because we work with the audience. But it turns out funny because of the recognition of something familiar and because it can turn weird."

They do some intellectual routines, like the Beat Poets Society -- "four or five of the comedians doing beat poetry based on the audience's suggestions," Wormser explains.

And there's the slapstick, as in when they make up new operas. The performers ask the audience to come up with two opposite occupations. "One time," she says, "they said a murderer and a milkman!"

Then the troupe plays out a full-blown opera, with the two leads singing and acting and a chorus behind them echoing the lines.

"It gets really really crazy," Wormser says. "Really silly."

Odd Cargo is performing Friday night at 8 and 9:30 at D.C. Arts Center. Tickets are $5 and available at the door. The group also performs regularly on Saturday nights at the Biograph Theater. For information, call 462-7833.