REVIEW: Middleditch & Schwartz: Completely Improvised Comedy Specials (Netflix)
The idea of improvisation seems more and more unbelievable nowadays, with every press junket comes an actor claiming they ‘completely improvised’ that one line or one scene that just so happens to be the stand out from the feature. If we are to believe these claims it might appear that the skill and craft of improvisation is easier to master than ever before.
I’ve never in my life been as impressed with improvisers, as I was with Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley, Captain Underpants) & Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation, Sonic the Hedgehog). From the outset, Middleditch & Schwartz invite you into the creative process, removing all relative smoke and mirrors you may be wary of. Instantly, they’re picking apart the audience for the search of gold, just a glimmer of inspiration, then taking said gold and finding every inconsistency and odd quirk they can from it. Just ten minutes of conversation to inspire the following 50 minutes of content. And do they succeed, in each show?
The boys easily go three for three, each special just as strong as the other two. It felt that no matter the scenario, Middleditch & Schwartz’s outstanding chemistry would always prevail. Even in obvious moments of character break and creative friction between the two, they continuously managed to further the story and indulge into each other’s comedic tangents. It’s not often you come across such a beautifully well-oiled comedy duo nowadays, the two together definitely reach the comedic heights of Steve Martin & Martin Short or John Mulaney & Nick Kroll, and it could be argued that these specials surpass the aforementioned in quality of content.
I can genuinely say that I haven’t laughed that much out loud in at least six months. I don’t know what that says about my life, but that’s beside the point. I found myself envious of the talent on show, Middleditch & Schwartz seemed to be able to wrap each performance in a wonderfully colourful bow, finding ways to circle back to jokes from the beginning of the shows and including every funny detail from the stories that their audiences shared.
Without spoilers, the stand out moments come in the form of sacrificing a child for an alien’s information, a ghost priest and all the gazelle moments. Also, mad props to Middleditch for rolling with each curveball idea Schwartz offered him, you could feel it each time Middleditch had to process the elements Schwartz was offering, and the subsequent absurdism felt by Middleditch in response.
Middleditch & Schwartz: Completely Improvised Comedy Specials is a laugh out loud hit and I will be recommending all my friends and family to be getting in on this over on Netflix.
With all this spare time most of us have right now, why not fill it with gut-busting laughter?