Is laughter the best medicine? Scientific research suggests that it increases blood flow and may raise the level of infection-fighting antibodies. But what about nonscientific evidence?
The improv comics who make the FreakEngine run want everyone to know that this month’s midnight performance is the most important show they have ever done. And they want you to know that, as unbelievable as that sounds, it’s not a joke. For not quite 15 years, FreakEngine’s quick-witted and somewhat masochistic performers have brought audiences to TheatreWorks for midnight performances on the first Friday of every month. For most of those shows, comedy fan Bryan Sims — known as Kestrel to his friends in the Society for Creative Anachronism — has been in the audience. This show is his special show. He gets to pick the theater games. His key-word suggestions will carry more weight than other audience suggestions.
“We’re going to find a recliner for him to sit in and a crown for him to wear,” Freak-in-charge Michael Entman says. Sims was recently diagnosed with an aggressive, drug-resistant strain of cancer, and, according to Entman, he’s fighting it with every tool at his disposal, including laughter.
The games Sims has selected include FreakEngine classics like “Marshmallows,” where the performers try to play a serious scene and not make people laugh. If laughter happens, the person responsible gets a marshmallow Peep stuck in his or her mouth and the scene goes on until mouths are too full of peeps to continue. They will also perform “Mousetrap,” their most famous game, which involves bare feet, 80 live mousetraps, and a blindfold.
“This show is a tribute and benefit. It’s geared to make Bryan laugh,” Entman says.