Rabid fans of The Thrilling Adventure Hour have made it a super-hot ticket. Described as “a sophisticated comedy sprinkled with affectionate homage to 1940's era radio,” the show, created by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker, features a slew of regulars — including Paul F. Tompkins, Paget Brewster, Busy Philipps, John DiMaggio, James Urbaniak – in spiffy clothes and special guests doing a staged comedy a la old-timey radio show. Blacker — or was it Acker? — was kind enough to answer some questions via email.
LAWEEKLY: People are addicted to The Thrilling Adventure Hour — why do you think that is?
BEN BLACKER: There are a couple of reasons, I think. On initially attending the show or listening to the podcast, people really respond to actors they know from television or comedy doing things we're unused to them doing. Like seeing Paget Brewster, who plays a very grim, gun-wielding federal agent (or something) on Criminal Minds, have fun playing a tipsy socialite in our “Nick and Nora of the supernatural” piece. Or guest stars like Ed Helms or Patton Oswalt or Nathan Fillion play space-cowboys. Well, maybe we've seen Nathan do that in the past.
But I think then what happens is that, as in any good fiction, people get invested in the characters.
Certainly Acker and I have. We care about what happens to Sparks Nevada, Marshal on Mars. It's part of what makes writing it such fun. While the show is accessible to new audience, coming in with a knowledge of the characters certainly deepens and enhances the experience.
Any enticing hints about June 4 show?
We hope you like body switching! Also in “Sparks Nevada,” the ex-girlfriend of both Sparks and Croach — his faithful Martian companion — returns. Which means Busy Philipps is back in the show!
What's been the highlight of doing the show?
Certainly getting to work with such a ridiculously talented troupe of actors and musicians. We knew, six years ago, that Paul F. Tompkins and Paget Brewster would deliver the goods every time. But watching and working with the folks we pulled from Second City like Marc Evan Jackson and Mark Gagliardi has been such fun. These guys are stars. I can't say enough good things about everyone in our regular crew — Craig Cackowski is our secret weapon. All of them make us laugh so much.
And of course it's been a lot of fun getting the opportunity to work with guest stars. from comics we've always liked such as Dana Gould and Nick Kroll to actors we grew up watching on TV. We were particularly starstruck by Julia Duffy!
If you were to stop doing it suddenly, what do you think the fans' reactions would be?
We're can't stop. Paget won't allow it. In all seriousness, even if we were inundated with actual, paying work, we'd find a way to continue doing the Thrilling Adventure Hour in some capacity. The podcast, available on iTunes, has opened up all sorts of new possibilities.
Sat., June 4, 8:30 p.m., 2011