Hey, Let’s Put on a Show

If you live in Nashville and are looking for a fun way to spend an hour on a Thursday night, here’s a suggestion: Attend the The Ben & Morey Show. I know, I know. This blog is not where you turn for live entertainment tips, but stick with me.

First, I must explain, the Ben & Morey Show is a television show, except without the TV. Or perhaps a radio show or podcast, without those either. Perhaps it is streamed, but I’m not sure of that, either. Or maybe it’s available via Periscope. I have no doubt they’ll make it to Periscope one day.

For now, however, it’s a live comedy act — live as in you go to a venue and pay $10 to be entertained. Fortunately you get your money’s worth — and more.

While Ben, Morey, the band (yes, a band like they have on talk shows that are actually on TV) and the format all seem perfect for a YouTube channel (the kind that make money) and could scale up if it catches on, it’s not one of those either, yet.

For now, it’s smart, live humor. And cleverly, pretending to be not-ready-for prime time.

Perhaps the getting-ready-for-prime-time thing is why I was invited to be a guest on the show last week. (Practice guest?) As I was neither asked to sing or do standup, I agreed to come on the show and talk about anything. Fortunately, they did some research and asked me about things I know about, like, how I got the Twitter username @R and how competitive outrage works.

The hosts are talented, attractive and have a great chemistry with one another and with the crowd. They’ve obviously worked in front of an audience enough before to fill in those tough spots that are supposed to be funny but end up with the sound of chirping crickets.

Staging it as a TV show (or is it a radio one?) gives the hosts the chance to do those things that hosts of TV shows do: an opening monologue (dialogue?). Bits. And did I mention they have a studio band? A four-piece side band that boosts the energy of the audience and provides rim-shots when a joke goes flat. The transitions between guests (segments?) give the band more chances to entertain the audience.

The show is performed in a small black box theater in an activities building at Centennial Park — one that someone from Nashville has passed hundreds of times but never noticed. (Key geographic marker: a block away from Hog Heaven and the dive bar Springwater.) With the set (furnished, no doubt, from some parent’s attic) at one end, the room holds an audience of about 50. The first two shows were sold-out with most of the audience comprised of recent college graduates and a few friends and family. I think the recent college graduates will continue to go.

The other guest, Denise Hicks, artistic director of the Nashville Shakespeare Festival, would have been a great guest, even if she hadn’t been able to regale us with stories about attending a Superbowl party at Eddie George’s house (she’s been his drama coach). Hearing about people sneaking selfies with Eddie George’s Heisman Trophy is perfect material for a talk show, even if it’s not being televised. Far funnier than how I got the Twitter username @R, in other words.

The Ben & Morey Show is clever and topical and despite appearances, very polished. And one day, you can tell people that you saw the Ben & Morey show before it was on Comedy Central, or at least Periscope.