Geek Comedy: Comic Book Live! & Doctor Who Live!
On Hollywood Boulevard there is an improv theater called iO West, it houses some of the best comedy for a crowd that loves things like comic books, video games, Dungeons and Dragons, and other nerdy endeavors along with plenty of drinks. I go there from time to time to see shows where one week you have Batman and Catwoman interviewing one another to inspire improv and another where a Dalek plans to take over daytime television.
This past Saturday I went to see Comic Book Live! and Doctor Who Live! each showing bring its own special quirks to improv. Comic Book Live! has special guests from comics, anime, television, and more come on stage to tell some stories from their works and give the players of Comic Book Live! a chance to make up some warped comedy from them.
That night’s guest was Brett Butler, Dr. Quinn from Adult Swim’s Sealab 2021, come on stage and tell some stories about losing it to a rude question at a panel and a hellish co-worker. This lead to Comic Book Live! creating bits about a professional eulogist, bad chemists, and more.
The cast of Comic Book Live is Patrick Ian Moore, Brandon Barrick, Tommy Bechtold, Zach Huddleston, Dustin Sterling, and Markeia McCarty. This show they had Elizabeth Ebeling along to help out. The show is usually hosted by Chris Gore, but he wasn’t able to make it to the show that night, when he is he’ll interview the guest of the night. Another fun part of the night is that if you show up in costume or answer some trivia questions you are up for winning prizes.
At certain points in the show, some of the cast would join the audience as they’d heckle the onstage cast members as shouting how they looked like poor man’s versions of other people amongst other odd look-alikes, my favortie being “Like a poor man’s Zachary Quinto” and “Gary Gygax Jr.” Based off Butler’s story of being on a panel and getting called a “poor man’s Vin Diesel” and going off on the person. You also had how the entire family of Vin Diesel changed their last name to Diesel, going so far as to find the ancient family tomb and re-carving the hieroglyphs. Yes that is something that happens not once, but twice in these bits and it is wonderful. All this starting when they try to get Dungeons and Dragons lover, Vin to join them, they get his cousin.
There is the dark world that David Butler, Brett Butler’s brother, (as played by Brett Butler, or has David Butler been Brett this whole time? I’ve never seen them in the same room together) gets stuck in when he goes to play with the Dungeons and Dragons group and proceeds to get tortured by the sociopath gaming group.
This is such a fun show, I can’t do it justice by just talking about it. They create a small world for the night that some of their characters return and they all inhabit. Whether it be the drug-addled professional eulogist, showing up to talk about the death of other characters from skits. (Lots of characters die in bits so don’t get too attached, you will lose all the ones you love, and the characters too).
Doctor Who Live! is a show where an entire episode of Doctor Who, the time and space traveling alien, goes on an adventure picked by audience suggestions. This night’s episode was named by an audience member unfamiliar with Doctor Who picked by host Peter Fluet and we got the A.I. of Venus, a story of love robots and the chaos of self-awareness and love.
This episode of the Doctor had the Time Lord played by Andrew Wollman, who is also the producer of Hello Pop!, who took on the bowtie and look of the 11th Doctor. He was great too, often putting his foot in his mouth when trying to calm the traumatized and often jumping to conclusions, that while correct are terrifying to those he speaks to.
Joining the Doctor was companion Fernando, as played by Gian Molina. Fernando is relatively new to working with the Doctor but still craves his approval and wants to show off his sick fighting skills. Fernando is also frightfully aware of the Doctor and his companions penchant for inadvertently being responsible for the deaths of others. When Fernando does finally get to show off his fighting moves, it is hysterical.
The plot revolves around Lovebot 9000′s love of Michael (played by Daniel Weiss), a Venusian Dendrite (tree-person), who is to wed Meesha (played by Markeia McCarty) to allow the power of two families to merge. Lovebot ends up going mad with full A.I. (which is illegal, along with any dendrite loving a robot) and killing Meesha while becoming disfigured in the process. Cue the theme song! (Which they do, that and the TARDIS noise.)
The Doctor and Fernando team up with Meesha’s identical twin sister, Keesha, to try and stop a robot uprising due to Virtual Intelligence turning into Artificial Intelligence which causes them to lose their sanity. They must deal with shady lovebot salesmen (played by Frank Moran) and his cheap lovebots (play by Stephen Ji), robot courts, and power-hungry dendrite fathers (played by Chris Thompson).
In the end, Fernando and the Doctor get to discuss what they learn and while Fernando learns a lot, the Doctor is only really hoping that he learned to not sleep with robots.
All these words and pictures pale in comparison to actually seeing any of these shows in person. There’s other great shows as well, another favorite of mine is Drunkards & Dragons, where the audience builds the heroes and villains then roll an inflatable die to effect the improv adventure. iO West has plent of amazing shows that will probably get you laughing, especially if you have a bit of nerdy predilection. Give the whole place a try some time.