Middleditch & Schwartz: Everything Is Their Brainchild
Updated: Sep 21, 2020
This improv comedy duo takes you on a tour of their imaginary worlds in this three-part Netflix Special
Thomas Middleditch (of Silicon Valley fame) and Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation, Jake and Amir) have a friendship and shared experience in improv that has distilled into a trio of 45-minute shows on Netflix- and we could not be more grateful for it.
The duo enters the stage with no pre-prepared material. They ask the audience for prompts, using questions like “is there an event coming up that you are anxious about?”. They pick people from the audience to discuss details about their lives for about five minutes, and the rest of the show is built from there. Unlike Whose Line Is It Anyway? where no scene is longer than five minutes, M&S allows the duo to develop all of their insane premises to sweet fruition. Seemingly mundane details about audience members re-emerge as cackle-worthy callbacks. Switching characters with lightning speed, the two create a world that exists only in the minds of them and the audience. Middleditch’s chaotic choices complement Schwartz’s strong anchor to sanity. By the end, all loose ends are either tied up or collectively forgotten amidst the eccentric storytelling.
Usually, an on-stage blunder leads to one of two possibilities for a performer- they may recover from it and tenaciously carry on, or get so rattled that they mess everything up. Either way, the mistakes tend to become the most memorable parts of the show. Middleditch and Schwartz seem to understand this quite well because, for them, every misstep is an opportunity; every mistake a gold nugget which can be melted and poured over the gaps along their plot lines. It is the kintsugi of comedy if you will.
All in all, this improv trilogy is a testament to the sheer brilliance of the two seasoned improv comics. They can keep you hooked for almost three hours with nothing save a chair as a prop. They can build worlds, make a mess, untangle the mess, and make sense out of the inexplicable. One can only hope that we get to see more of this genre in the mainstream.
This article is brought to your eyes by Shraddha Panday, a guest writer. She is a known illustrator and easily the coolest person in the room. She is also a cinephile and appreciator of any good content on the Internet and she knows what and where it is, too! You can check out her work @fryingpanday on Instagram.