Last night I saw “Tournament of Nerds” at the UCB theater in Los Angeles and I can safely say that it was the funniest shows I have ever seen in my life.
The structure of the show was simple. Two nerds represented a character or person that they passionately enjoyed. Examples of this included Dr. Who, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, R. Kelly and Jughead. The nerds then argued why their character could beat their opponent’s character in a fight. After each battle, a guest panel of judges decided who advanced to the next round and at the end of the tournament a champion was crowned.
Last night the panel of judges included Rich Sommer from Mad Men, Trevor Moore from The Whitest Kids U’Know, Jensen Karp from Gallery 1988, and Marc Andreyko the writer of Captain America. The judges were hysterical when they tried to make sense of the nerd explosion that occurred onstage. Even though Rich and Trevor weren’t extremely nerdy, they provided a grounded perspective amidst the crazy shananigans of the show.
In addition, the show was hosted by my level 101 teacher Hal Rudnick and his friend Justin Donaldson. It was great to see Hal and Justin interact with the judges and comment on all of the characters that competed. They both kept the situation light and lively.
“Tournament of Nerds” was really funny because it expanded on a basic rule of improv that is taught in all level 1 classes; whole-heartedly believe in whatever you are doing onstage. The battle itself was so silly and frivolous that watching each performer take it very seriously was hysterical to watch. The more knowledge a performer possessed about an old cartoon or 90’s RnB star, the funnier their battle became. Also, it was really funny to watch each nerd become emotional during the fight. “Jughead could literally turn the Ninja Turtles into turtle soup and then eat them!”
Overall, I learned that being enthusiastic and knowledgeable about any topic can be funny, no matter how ridiculous it is.