On "Freaks and Geeks", the geeks play Dungeons and Dragons with hot freak Daniel Desario, played by a young James Franco. I dismissed this as unlikely, for why would a hot person ever play DnD when they could just be having sex?
The DND Improv show was one of the first Fringe shows I ever heard about. My initial reaction to learning that neckbeards had left their family basement to take the stage was one of shock and dismay. “I only want hot people on the stage,” I loudly complained to the cashier at Safeway. “If I wanted to stare at Below 6’s for an hour I’d just go to church.”
Then one day, as fate would have it, I met an actual improviser, live and in the flesh. And I thought to myself, “Damn look at the c a k e.”
Yes, it’s true. Everyone in The DND Improv show is extremely good-looking. That alone is really enough of a reason to go. But against all odds, all these regulation hotties are also extremely funny.
It is a truth of the Universe - as explained by Einstein, as explained by Darwin, as explained by Stephen Hawking, and even Neil DeGrasse Tyson – that hot people are not funny, and funny people are not hot. Funny people become funny people to make up for not being hot. This is a law of nature and the curse of being human. But evolution is has a mind of its own, and has created a new unstoppable breed of human, and they all ended up in The DND Improv Show.
How does one review improv? The papers don’t seem know. I don’t either, but I did take a single improv class at PTE once which I think qualifies me to evaluate this entire artform on my personal blog for sure.
Dungeon Master Jesse Miki starts the show with great hair, high energy, and ageless vampire boy-next-door good looks, making the ladies swoon and the men wish they were ¼ Japanese so their skin would stay wrinkle-free well in to their 80’s too. This upstanding fellow is also responsible for the exciting new addition of an interactive world map projection that helps us keep track of which Hot Person is going where. 7 Wahlburgers for Jesse Miki and his generous, contagious enthusiasm that always leaves me satisfied and smiling, like all the best burgers do.
Leif Ingebrigsten, the musician who betrayed us all by pulling a Rod Beillfus and defected from Winnipeg to set up shop in a new city the same year I first met them and discovered how talented they were is B A C K like Britney and it’s very special. His musicality and comedic sensibilities are as or more on point than anyone else out there, and every year there’s a audible maturation, like when Matt Damon went from youthful ingénue to Jason Bourne in the early 2000’s. The music was my fav part of the show the first time I ever saw it and it remains my fav part of the show to this day. As a former musician who gave up the keys to write plays and yell at actors instead, Leif is living my dream life and has earned 18 Walhburgers for his temporary but triumphant return to the Winnipeg stage!
What I most enjoy about this show is the organic nature of its structure. It’s at its best when it’s allowed to live and breathe like a living thing, rather than treated as a live-action board game, which sometimes happens, likely in response to audience energy – a crowd which is probably more gamers than professional theatre critics like me, Frances, professional theatre critic.
There are so many characters in DND that I straight up don’t remember all their names, and excellent moments come and go so quickly that it can be hard to keep up, but highlights of the performance I saw included a touching moment between father and son and locket, a timely political shoutout to the original peoples of these Treaty 1 lands, the Cree nation, from whose language Winnipeg, meaning “Muddy Waters”, is derived, several magical moments within one of the city’s finest armpits, and a 100% farmer Farmer. And all of them are really hot. These memorable moments have been formally awarded 27 Wahlburgers, equally split between Paul, Mark, and Donnie.
The best comedy is built on the foundation of truth, and the best way to access truth is through comedy. What makes DND such a special show isn’t within the game of the game, or within the game of the game of the game, or in how darn cute everyone is. It’s that performers are sharp and smart, and able to recognize when they stumble upon one of these truths, and give those truths support and space to exist live on stage. 97 Wahlburgers for the truth! Justice for Young Tom Cruise! He CAN handle it!
After 10 years, it gone be interesting to see how this show moves forward. If overt commercialization is the direction it takes (there are dollar bills waiting to be snatched up here for sure), then a more focused PR scheme and a levelling up on design might be just the thing this show needs to go from being full of hot people and great improv to being full of hot people and great improv and having overall aesthetic cohesion.
At the end of the "Freaks and Geeks" episode, the geeks ask themselves the ultimate question: is Daniel is a geek now that he played DnD with them, or are they all cool now that they played DnD with Daniel Desario? I feel much the same about the cast of DnD Improv. They are the James Franco to my pre-pubescent John Francis Daley, and it is a honour to simply be in their beautiful presence. For are not we all secretly just neckbeards, living in our parents' basement, rolling dice and dreaming of something better?
97 + 27 + 18 + 7 = 149 Walhburgers for The Dnd Improv Show! Take your kids, take your mom, take your dog. Just don’t take your romantic partners, ‘cause they will definitely leave you and elope with one of this stone cold foxes!