Off Hollywood Blvd there sits the iO Theater that houses improv shows; several of which might intrigue the Comic Attack audience, or any fan of comics, sci-fi, gaming, and other fan-related works. When you walk in you see they have drinks like “Tom Bakers” and “Tony Starks” available for purchase; it’s welcoming to see alongside paintings of comedy greats like Amy Poehler.
This past weekend I went to iO theater to watch Comic Book Live and Doctor Who Live. The first show, Comic Book Live, is like getting a personal backstage pass from an individual involved in a show, movie, or other favorite product. The group is Patrick Ian Moore, Brandon Barrick, Tommy Bechtold, Zach Huddleston, Chelsea Coleman, Derek Reid, Markeia McCarty, and Jamie Hoggson. This week they had Brett Butler of Sealab 2012 fame come in and tell some stories about what it was like working on the show, which then led the comedy troupe to create comedic scenarios based off his stories.
Brett’s first story was about how he had to spend many, many takes trying to perfect the Bizarro Quinn role of one of Sealab‘s most popular episodes, only to learn later that none of his work was used for that character. This led the group to build a world set in a bio-dome, and present the hijinx involved in such a small, fragile place.
They began with the simple idea of being left out of a card for someone, and that just spun into the madness that is this bio-dome. The stories had flashbacks to horrible parents forcing their children into a life of biology they never wanted, and the hate-upon-hate of such a family. The group was able to shift gears with ease and build on each other’s ideas, and make what may have been a mistake into a critical plot point. The stories eventually led to a liaison who seemed to have a master plan, and would show up in both sets to cause even more mayhem.
Brett went on to tell a story of how the higher-ups wanted Quinn to sound more “urban,” and the awkwardness that occurred when his bosses tried to ask him to do this. This led to two guards trying to do their job, and the awkward outburst by the one guard. This turned into a puppet show with a puppet with a strong swearing problem, and a visit by a boy with brittle bones and his accidental death that followed. The guards returned with the rest of their guard family (don’t we all have the same job as the rest of our family?), and the reading of their mother’s will. The chaos kept the energy alive and had me laughing.
Following up Comic Book Live was Doctor Who Live, a group able to create an entire original episode of Doctor Who in one show! The group was made of Peter Fluet (who played The Doctor), Markeia McCarty (as Jenny Parks, Rosa Parks’s Civil War ancestor), Gian Molina (as the misguided Froamian, Theramin, and a Nearamid), Chelsea Coleman (as Viola, the murderous Froamian, various other Froamians, Nearamids, Pyramids, and water waves), Chris McGowan (as various Froamians, Nearamids, and pyramids), and two other members were there as well, but I couldn’t find their names to match with their faces; they too played various Froamians, Nearamids, and pyramids.
The plot was created with suggestions from the audience, and we were given The Castration of the Froamian Swimmers. The episode began with the Doctor taking Jenny Parks away from the Civil War to grant her wish of seeing a world in total freedom. The watery planet of Froamia is a land with no rules, and thus a rather silly place; when anyone gets mad at another for committing any sort of misconduct, they can just claim a free society and get off scot-free. This bothers the Froamian Theremin, who demands some sort of structure in their society. It’s soon seen that nothing is as it seems in Froamia, as one Froamian is castrated and killed, which then fades to black with the Doctor Who theme!
Improv and Doctor Who go very well together, with the Doctor always spouting off a bunch of techno-nonsense to explain the adventure of the week. The group was able to make something that seemed like an R-rated episode of the show that was absolutely as believable as the show itself. Able to throw in jokes for fans as well as anyone who didn’t know the show, you could come to this as just a great, weird, adventure-comedy.
The plot continued, turning into the Doctor and Jenny stumbling onto a weird conspiracy from Theremin and Viola to instill fear into the Froamians in order to create government, while the deep sea Nearamids were trying to take over Froamia and instill laws and government by using their pyramids. In the end, we all learned a valuable lesson about the pros and cons of freedom and government, and how they both have terrible garbage attached to them, and how you have to find a blend to keep everyone from being jerks, or something like that.
The whole event was a lot of fun, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is a big fan of anything comic book, Doctor Who, or comedy. Comic Book Live gave out a free graphic novel in between set pieces when someone answered trivia; they have different guests each time so you can learn all sorts of background stuff on shows and the like. Doctor Who Live is always ready to make new episodes on the spot, and they kept the plot moving; and with how silly and imaginative the show itself is, they meld together wonderfully. They perform regularly at the iO theater, and I’ll be returning this Friday for Drunkards and Dragons (which will also be getting a write-up), improvising an adventure right on stage! So if you are in the Hollywood area and want to have a good time, head on over to the iO Theater for some great improv with fans in mind.