andrew kruse-ross | comedic neutral | march 2018
Part One of a Two-Part Series
Many know De Pere's Green Room Lounge as the home of improv troupe ComedyCity and the backdrop to popular events like Laugh Box Stand-up Comedy nights and Dan Rafferty's Piano Bar Sing-Along, but the venue also serves up the laughs for the late-night crowd with several post-ComedyCity offerings.
One of those offerings, Comedic Neutral, brings the world of Dungeons & Dragons role-playing to life before a live audience. Taking place once a month after a ComedyCity late show, each 90-minute installment of Comedic Neutral presents four heroes (as played by four comedians) on an adventure through a D&D universe to encounter, and hopefully overcome, the challenges presented by the Dungeon Master.
Each installment of Comedic Neutral picks up where the previous show's action ends. During the February 2 installment, Comedic Neutral creator and host, John Egan, begins the evening by addressing the nearly full house that has assembled in the minutes after the evening's second ComedyCity show comes to a close, providing a recap of the previous month's adventure and introducing our heroes.
This installment of Comedic Neutral promises to be a special one as the audience is about to be introduced to a new hero — a replacement for our party's first casualty.
During the January edition of Comedic Neutral, one of our heroes — what was his name? Rothar? Rogar? — has fallen. Having unwisely stuck his hand in some “red goo" before angering a toll-collecting troll, Rothar's (or Rogar's) journey has come to an end, having drowned in “incredibly shallow waters" after being kicked by the aforementioned troll.
Our remaining heroes, the sorcerer Cage Morthos, the wood elf monk Del Pewter and the half-orc fighter Vernal Equinox are left to grieve and dispose of their companion's remains while trying to recall his name.
It is then that our new player emerges: the halfling rogue calling herself Claudia Herblock. Standing at a mere 3 feet in height, clad in leather and wielding a bow, quiver and dual daggers, she approaches our mourning adventurers and spins an unlikely tale.
She is on a quest to rescue her five sisters, which are being held against their will by dark forces. There's talk of a hidden vault, a book, a secret entrance to their place of captivity via hot springs, but if any of those things are to be uncovered, they must first find the menacing Percival Torres.
At the dungeon master's request, the halfling is asked to prove the truthfulness of her words; she must roll the dice. Rolling a 16, her uncanny story proves true and our heroes “blindly follow a woman they've just met" to perils unseen and leave the troll's ravine and their fallen companion's grave behind.
Heading northward through a mountain range that was once home to a crazed necromancer, the search for the mysterious Percival Torres and our halfling's five sisters begins, as does the February installment of Comedic Neutral.
Comedic Neutral has a lot going for it and has an appeal that should extend well beyond the seasoned D&D crowd.
As our comedic heroes have varying degrees of D&D experience, those with limited or no role-playing knowledge won't be left in the dark if attending the show. In fact, watching the more-inexperienced heroes bumble their way through the adventure at the hands of seasoned Dungeon Master Ben Wallschlaeger provides much of the show's appeal.
As only the Dungeon Master has a clue as to how our story might unfold, the show is rife with unpredictability. An unfortunate roll of the dice or a poor decision made by one of our heroes (Seriously, who willingly sticks their hand in red goo?) and the show can take a sudden turn or reveal an unforeseen twist. Add to this the unscripted quips of our comedian heroes and the show becomes even more unpredictable and one gets the sense that Comedic Neutral is never the same show twice. This trait makes the show a natural complement to ComedyCity improv shows, which are unpredictable in their own right.
As the story unfolds before the eyes of our heroes, so too, does the story unfold before the eyes of the audience. In this way, to be in the audience is to be always 'in' on both the adventure and the jokes.
Cleverly selected music selections, which include those from the popular Elder Scrolls video game series, add to the show's adventurous spirit and, at times, bring increased levity to the show, as was the case when our heroes were preparing a grave for their fallen companion to “Dust in the Wind."
Comedic Neutral is sponsored by The Game Capital, which specializes in trading card games, board game nights and hosts its own D&D sessions every Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. The pairing of these two De Pere businesses has resulted in a winner. Comedic Neutral has been leading large audiences through the lands of high adventure since August of 2017.
At this time, Comedic Neutral is free to attend. Needless to say, at that price, it's a steal and only pushes the Green Room's already lofty entertainment value that much farther up the table.
With the Green Room relocating to a larger venue — plans are to open the new venue on March 1 at 365 Main Ave. — it will be interesting to see just how many adventure-starved spectators the heroes of Comedic Neutral can muster in the months ahead.
Comedic Neutral is usually held on one Friday of each month after the late ComedyCity show at the Green Room Lounge. Look for exact times by searching Comedic Neutral – Live Comedy Roleplaying on Facebook or by following The Green Room Lounge.
For more on The Game Capital, find them on Facebook and at thegamecapital.tcgplayerpro.com.