I’m still mildly obsessing over Bo Burnham. Here’s a quote from him, from an article that appeared in the Telegraph:
He is in rebellion against cosy, samey comedy: “Stay on the stage. Hold the microphone. Be funny. There are, at most, three rules for stand-up comedy,” he intones, “yet 95 per cent of the comics look the same – not so much over here [in Britain], but in America they do – because of all the rules they create for themselves. ‘Open with this joke, close with that.’ I’m a little disgusted by that. I think: ‘You’re turning this into another job!’ ”
Today I went to see Charles Ross’ show ‘One Man Lord of the Rings’ at Intrepid Theatre‘s Metro Studio. This week he’s been doing 3 performances each of his ‘One Man Star Wars’ and ‘One Man LotR’ shows, as fundraisers for Intrepid. I spoke to Charlie last week, and wrote about it in Camosun College’s Nexus Newspaper.
Although he has performed both shows in Victoria numerous times, today’s LotR experience was my first of Ross. The theatre was about 3/5 full (it was a matinee; his Star Wars show is selling out – apparently there are more sci-fi than fantasy nerds). The lights faded to black, then Ross appeared, in the middle of the stage, dressed in black, and began at the beginning. He went through all three movies at lightning speed (the show clocked in at 70 minutes), hitting all major events, and adding a bit of commentary as he went (there was no Tom Bombadil in the movies but there was rather a lot of Arwen… but wouldn’t you rather look at Liv Tyler?). His show is so impressive because of his uncanny impressions: his accents are impeccable, and he zips between characters using subtle but recognizable visual cues (like Legolas’ hair or Gandalf’s staff).
I expected the show to be quite funny, but it was more like a one-man SparkNotes version of the LotR movies. It was clear that the majority of the audience was very familiar with the movies (as well as the books; Ross took a poll), and you really do need to have seen the movies to understand his show (I don’t think this is a negative though!). Irritatingly, even though his audience was full of such die-hard fans (including me), Ross stopped at one point to explain that the impression he had just done of an Ent being set on fire then dousing the flames in water was an impression of an Ent being set on fire then dousing the flames in water. Yes, Mr Ross. I know.
Despite its billing, I wouldn’t quite classify this show as a comedy. Nevertheless, it was worth it for his Gollum impression alone.