I’ve written about Comic Book Live! before, but I was asked to return to cover a special event for the LA Improv Festival at iO West’s Del Close Theater, in which Chris Gore and Sasha Knox would be coming in to play the roles of Batman and Catwoman to interview one another onstage to inspire the Comic Book Live! crew’s improvisational comedy.
What we got was a self-contained world where Gotham City’s super-people cause just about anyone disgruntled enough to become a villain, and anyone useful enough to become a hero. Now I’m always going to worry Subway sandwich shops are secretly housing the next supervillain. The show asks the tough questions, such as: Where does Batman rank in Catwoman’s lovers, and who will be America’s Next Top Robin? All this and more in Comic Book Live! with Batman and Catwoman!
The show begins with Batman and Catwoman standing around the red phone, made famous in the 1960s television series of Batman. They banter back and forth; Batman’s suit is torn apart, clearly having just finished a night of rough crime fighting, and now ready to relax and talk with Catwoman. Catwoman is in no way battle-damaged, and ready to tease ol’ Bats for the night.
The improv became about such things as working at a sandwich shop, and a man who never wanted to wear the sandwich board sign since he found it repulsive. When his job fires him for not doing his job, he snaps and becomes The Boardster, the sandwich-board sign-wearing villain! It’s only really threatening when you realize he’s a bit nuts and carries a gun; that’s all it takes to be a threat when you get down to it really. Elsewhere we get the low-level hero, Repair Man, trying to fix a red phone. His assistant Assistant Boy is ready to go further with their careers and ends up shooting a cop.
There were a lot of eulogies in that night since a lot of people died. The death of a cop leads to his son taking up villainy, coupled with his girlfriend leaving him to date the Repair Man, becoming The Huffpainter (he realized too late that Painthuffer was a better name, but he already registered all his social media accounts as Huffpainter, you know how it is). Subway sandwich shops and funeral homes are where a lot of these big changes take place, as is the case in all of life.
This all leads up to the eventual team up of Huffpainter as The Boardster’s sidekick, and the eventual break up between Repair Man and his latest girlfriend, due to his questionable relationship with Assistant Boy. Leaving Repair Man finally able to fix the red phone, where we learn there are eight red phones and they are all actually a party-line; Batman and Commissioner Gordon’s use was just a secondary purpose, which I’m sure we all suspected as such.
During intermission, Batman Chris Gore and Catwoman Sasha Knox asked the audience questions to win free comics. Catwoman Sasha Knox’s question was difficult, and no one but her was able to answer it. What was the first line Catwoman said to her cat when in full outfit in the movie Batman Returns? “I don’t know about you, Miss Kitty, but I feel so much yummier.” So she won the comics for that one. When Batman Chris Gore asked who could name a Robin, besides Dick Grayson, I was the one to answer with Tim Drake and won myself a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic along with a Batman comic. That was a lot of fun, because you could see the audience and cast trying to figure out the answers.
Talk of Robins began the show’s next bit with American’s Next Top Robin, pitting Dick Clark Grayson against Bruce Wayne’s daughter (cleverly disguised as a man, read: finger mustache, so as to not get disqualified for family relations). Batman enters the bit to make sure they know this is serious business to find out who will fight crime with him. Meanwhile, the red phones begin to uncover secrets in regards to Batman’s identity, as Commissioner Gordon’s son takes over the role of commissioner when his father dies. Yes, commissioner is transferred much in the same way royalty is; Gotham does weird things, but what do you expect from a town of crazed masked villains and billionaire superheroes?
The show was filled with plenty of great bits, staying within its own weird little version of Gotham City. It felt like it could have been a comedic comic book about what “normal” citizens must be like in such a bizarre city. We live in a world with “real” superheroes and villains, so what must a world with people who have a living urban legend running around at night feel like? Most of the villains and heroes were all deranged and using the idea of super-status as an excuse to vent their psychosis, but nowhere near the level you see the big league characters doing. These are the Z-list heroes and villains. It was great comedy and I loved seeing the actors create a world onstage organically.
I was only able to make it out to see Comic Book Live! with Chris Gore and Sasha Knox, but the entire week had shows with other special guests. Doctor Who Live! had an actual Dalek to perform with, and Drunkards and Dragons had The Whitest Kids U’ Know perform with them! Seriously folks, if you ever have the chance to get out to iO West in Hollywood, go. It’s great, you can get drinks and laughs for good prices, and they have nerdy and non-nerdy shows alike. I want to thank iO West, Comic Book Live!, Chris Gore, Sasha Knox, Comic Attack, and everyone involved for such a wonderful night.
P.S. Chris Gore has a car decked out with Batman decorations, batarangs, bat symbols, bat swarms, Batman floor mats, Batman stick shift, and Batman steering wheel cover. Here’s a peek: