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A thirty year old murder?

On September 2, I was invited to MaGooby’s Joke House to see Die Laughing Productions, a comedy troupe comprised of Baltimore comics and personalities such as Justin Schleigel of 98 Rock’s Justin, Scott and Spiegel as well as Rob Maher and Joe Robinson of The Rob and Joe Show. What I wasn’t told when I was invited was that, while there, I would be teleported back to the 1980’s as well as stand witness to a murder – actually I was told this as they were performing a murder mystery called “Back to the 80’s.”

The cast of the show brought a great amount of energy and, while it wasn’t exactly their goal to fully transform into ’80s icons such as Ferris Beuler and Marty McFly, their cheese-ball performances and over the top acting made the show plenty entertaining for all involved.

As is standard with most murder mysteries, audience participation played a key role in the show with the troupe’s motto being “each show is a third scripted, a third improv, a third audience participation and 100% funny.”  Before the show, clipboards were passed out to seemingly random audience members while they waited in line and during the show, those audience members that had been chosen were expected to play the part that they were given, no matter how ill-prepared.

Even though the cast performance did make for a good evening, I personally found an audience performance – or lack there of – to be the highlight of the evening.  Searching for one of the audience members with a part in the show, and after calling their name multiple times, quick improvisation on the part of the crew, namely finding the clipboard and giving it to someone else, is a moment that stood out and showcased the improvisation ability of the cast.

Even though Die Laughing Productions did a great job performing the show, and that by no means was it a bad show at all, as I left I realized that I may have expected more than I should have. I feel that this was mostly because of my familiarity with the cast. I am a regular listener to 98 Rock, have listened to the Rob and Joe Show on occasion and recently saw Justin Schleigel perform stand up at the Baltimore Comedy Factory.

These programs and shows have never disappointed, and I think that I may have had the bar set too high for a murder mystery going in. Of course costumes aren’t going to be elaborate, great, or even look like much more than someone pulled out of a box in their mother’s basement or found on the bargain rack of a thrift store. Jokes will almost always be at the mercy of an audience member and there is no reason to expect them to not be bumpy and awkward upon delivery.

Even with the hiccups, the night out seeing the show was a good one and is something that I will look forward to doing again in the near future. With their big-Baltimore names, the colorful shows that they put together and perform, as well as the great environments provided by the venue as well as DLP there really was little room to go wrong.

DLP’s “Halloween Whodunnit” can be seen on October 22 at Magooby’s Joke House as well as other venues in the area throughout the month of October.