Entertainment Review: Game Grumps

On Wednesday October 7th Arin Hanson and Daniel Avidan, more commonly known as the Game Grumps, brought a live “Let’s Play” experience to the sold out Wilbur Theatre.  A “Let’s Play” is when one or more people record themselves playing through a video game and share their experiences on YouTube or other media sharing websites. Arin is an animator, voice actor, and creator involved with numerous cartoons, as well as the series “Sequelitis,” where he examines the intricacies of video games and their sequels in a comedic and logical fashion. Arin, Dan, and Brian Wecht make up the musical comedy group Starbomb. Outside of Game Grumps, Dan’s alter ego, “Danny Sexbang” forms one half of the musical comedy group Ninja Sex Party, while Brian Wecht with his alter ego, “Ninja Brian,” make the second half.

My friend Caroline and I were extremely lucky to get tickets to their live show. Having done a few live shows on the West Coast, many of their fans along the East Coast begged for Dan and Arin to come our way. The Grumps finally announced their East Coast tour in June, and within minutes of going live, the show at The Wilbur (which seats 1,200 people) sold out. (Their other tour locations included Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket, CT, the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, NY, the Paramount in Huntington, NY, and their last stop is the Trocadero Theatre in Philadelphia, PA.)

Since the Grumps were only hitting major cities on the East Coast, I ran half a block while in line in both directions to see where other fans emerged from. The answers ranged from the Greater Boston Area, Salem, MA, Candia, NH and Warwick, RI. The mixed crowd consisted of college students, middle-aged adults, and even parents who brought their children.

When Caroline and I arrived around 7:00, the line already went from the front door of The Wilbur all the way to Tufts Medical Center. The show’s 7:30 start time quickly passed, and fans (affectionately referred to as “lovelies”) stood outside, growing worried; while inside, Vernon Shaw (Creative Development for the Grumps and founder of “Hot Pepper Gaming” on YouTube) worked diligently with Emerson College students to remedy some technical issues. I’d have to say the wait was worth it; while in line the fans interacted and became friends, which created and carried energy and enthusiasm into the theater.

With any live show there is room for equipment errors, but Arin and Dan’s go-with-the-flow attitude coupled with the pent up excitement from the wait, what could have been a “big issue” was quickly forgotten.  I had the privilege of speaking with Vernon at different times throughout the show.  Our first conversation was caused by my surprise to see him standing behind me and his curiosity at the notepad on the table in front of me. His initial nervousness about my review was quickly replaced with a good sense of humor (not to mention his lionesque stature, unbeatable intellect, and all around humbleness).  The second time was to ask how I was enjoying the show and the last time was after the show ended. I wanted to know what the main difference was between an online episode and the live show, his answer was simple. “The live shows are like a party, if the audience has good energy, the Grumps will have good energy and vice versa.”

The Wilbur’s main floor is comprised of tables and bar seating, while the mezzanine and balcony had a more traditional theatre seating arrangement. After Lindsay and Alex Small-Butera (Creators of the “Baman Piderman” series) opened the show with ten minutes of playing Super Mario Bros blindfolded while the audience shouted instructions, Arin and Dan came on stage to Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me” as well as a roar of applause. Once the cheers died down the Grumps began to play Mario Party 10, a popular multiplayer game available on the Nintendo Wii U console.

After introductions, Arin and Dan picked their characters for the game, Princess Peach and Yoshi respectively. Having recently done a concert in both Chicago and Washington D.C, I was impressed with the energy both Grumps maintained throughout the show. The conversations flowed naturally between them as it normally does during an episode online, and they seamlessly bridged the gap from online to live by breaking the audience into two teams and having us choose which character we wanted to represent us. Waluigi represented the right side of the audience and Toad represented the left side. Dan and Arin also included audience members in the selection of mini-games and invited two people to play every time one popped up. With the different mini-games two audience members would introduce themselves and pump up their team. Each side of the theater threw their support behind the person playing by chanting the player’s name or their team name (Waluigi or Toad). In response to Dan’s loss after a mini-game, Arin instructed Dan to take off his jacket which quickly led to them both deciding to take off an article of clothing each time they lost.

The strangest aspect of the evening happened during the Q&A in the final fifteen minutes of the show. Dan and Arin took off their pants and sat in their boxers while Vernon browsed the audience. At one point a top hat was thrown on stage, Dan put it on and looked remarkably like Slash.  Ultimately the show reminded fans of why we enjoy the Game Grumps:  at the end of the day, they are two best friends sitting on a couch playing games, cracking jokes, and getting real. I would see them again gladly and recommend them to anyone looking for phenomenal humor and awesome high fives.

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