Improv Boston's Geek Week: Overthinking It, Ethan Gilsdorf & more

Improv Boston just finished their annual Geek Week, which involves five nights of geek-themed comedy, some done by Improv Boston's own cast(s) and some done by touring geek comedians, writers, and musicians.

On Friday, I watched the Geek Comedy Tour. I enjoyed all of the performers, but the first of them, Jake Young, was my favorite in terms of material. His fellow comedians focused a little less on specifically geeky humor, plus the others had occasional "women, amirite?" eye-rollers ... particularly uncomfortbale given the large amount of (geeky) women in the audience.

After that, Overthinking It got on stage, and killed. Yes, I'm biased: I love their site, and their podcast (and their other podcast). But I wasn't sure how well overthinking would go in a live comedy venue. Overthinking It always entertains, but their podcasts and articles seem to be more focused on intelligent discourse than bringing the funny with every line.
The Overthinkers ended up giving a more stylized, performance-oriented show at Improv Boston. For one thing, they had a power point presentation, which automatically made it seem less on-the-fly than their topic-jumping podcasts. They did retain the analytical prowess showcased on their site (many of them attended "prestigious Yale," after all), despite including more frequent jokes and theatrics. I was delighted to see them in person and even more delighted at how adeptly they had adapted their humor to a live venue.
Their performance began with a screening of Overthinker Matt Belinkie's video, "40 Inspirational Speeches in 2 Minutes". Then, the present Overthinkers began a power point and mock-debate about the Mr. T Party, which was then interrupted by Mark Lee's live performance of his original Terminator power ballad, "I'll Be Back," with the video, also cut by Belinkie, playing in the background (but unfortunately, without this awesome microphone stand). The show finished with audience Q&A.
As an unrepentant Overthinking It fangirl, I probably can't be expected to reliably gauge how good this show was, but the audience was in stitches at both their Friday and Saturday night performances (yes, I went to both even though they were identical, don't judge me). So I think this proves that the Overthinkers can deliver it live.

On Saturday night, I checked out Ethan Gilsdorf's presentation about his book, Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks. The book describes his childhood obsession with Dungeons & Dragons (and his current re-appreciation of said game), and it includes scanned images of dungeon maps drawn by Gilsdorf in his youth. Audience members at the panel got the opportunity to look at these relics firsthand as Gilsdorf handed out well-worn copies of decades-old books, maps, drawings, and figurines, all of which could never be found in a modern-day gaming store -- except maybe preserved obsessively in a glass case and/or being sold for lots of money. He also gave out prizes to anyone who could answer trivia questions about D&D (my date won a Tiefling Warlock miniature for knowing Gary Gygax's name).

After seeing the Saturday Overthinking It show, I watched a performance by Improv Boston's "Mosaic" troupe. They do a show every Saturday night, and this time around, they used some special geeky tiles alongside their usual tiles. The actors begin the show by laying out several cardboard squares; each one has a picture on one side and a word on the other side, and each of these tiles stands for a short sketch to be performed that night (Mosaic is sketch comedy, by the way, not improv -- be not fooled by Improv Boston's name!). Some sketches were good, some were weird, and some were just random ... so, a good choice for an ADD audience.

Overall, the Geek Week was great fun and filled my weekend with laughter. I plan to go again next year, probably to even more of it. Lastly, gosh, I sure hope Overthinking It does another show in Boston someday ... hint, hint.

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