July 21, 2009

REVIEW: Bargain Basement Game Show @ Capital Fringe.

Bargain Basement Game Show aims to be a game show of "high-brow trivia and low-brow humor" where everyone in the audience is a contestant. Upon arriving, every person is issued a score card, showing boxes numbered 0 through 40, a stack of cards reading "A", "B", "C", and "D", and a booklet overviewing the rules and directions. The plucky host then takes the stage with his lovely quasi-Vanna White assistant in a flowing red dress, and another comical female stage assistant. Questions are presented on three-sided poster boards (you know... from the 8th grade science fair?) and the audience members show their answers by raising the appropriately lettered card. The squirrely host then examines the answers, chides the few who are holding ones that are obviously wrong, and announces the correct one. Note: every person he called out gets free stuff so it might be a good idea to flunk on an easy answer to get a t-shirt.

His gang of helpers then jump out and cross off boxes on the correct cards according to the number of points the question was worth. Interspersed between the questions are witty dialogue, the host character's buffoonery (to the chagrin his straight-woman assistant), and theatrical productions designed to introduce clues to future answers. It becomes quite clear early on that the host's geekishness is not a production and is instead his authentic self -- evidenced by clumsiness and propensity to chortle at his own jokes -- but he is able to walk the fine line of comedy, preventing the show's inherent corniness from ever becoming awkward. There were a few goof-ups. Some lines were missed that weren't critical to the show's understanding, and a few subtle clues written into the sketches between the questions did not lead up to anything in the end. But the lovability of the cast smooths out any holes and makes it just another part of the show.

Even if quirky comedy isn't your thing, the show is full of wonderful prizes. First prize was a $50 gift card to best buy, second prize was $25 to Barnes and Noble, and third was $15 to Starbucks. The next five or so got 2GB flash drives. After handing all that out, they looked to hand out pieces of their set as prizes too and the first things that stuck out to them was the giant prop "NO" sign that stayed on stage the entire time. As the lucky man in 9th place, I won the sign and, taped to the back, there I found a $25 gift certificate to Amazon.com.

Quite a bargain indeed.

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