Set List: Stand-up Without a Net

Set List: Stand-up Without a Net

by Joanna Orland

The premise of Set List: Stand-up Without a Net is simple – world class comedians take to the stage with nothing prepared.  Topics appear on television monitors either side of the stage and the comic has to improvise their set before the audience’s very eyes.  This is the concept of Set List and it works without fault as proven through the live show’s success and its evolution into a series on Sky Atlantic and the Nerdist Channel.

The beauty of this show is that it is different every night.  With an endless combination of topics and comics, no two shows are the same, even when comics return or subject matter reappears.  But as the content does solely depend on the talent’s ability to improvise and keep their cool in entertaining the audience, it can sometimes go horribly awry if the comic is not up to the challenge.  Luckily most are, but there was one incident with German comedian Michael Mittermeier who lived up to the stereotype that Germans do not have a sense of humour as he literally just gave up while on stage.  Fair enough that the topics and general idea of the show may have gotten lost in translation, but Russian comedian Igor Meerson who seems to have slightly less of a grip on the English language used this to his advantage.  Moral of the story is, if you can’t handle the heat, get out of the kitchen.

In the two 90-minute shows I attended, Mittermeier was the only one who fell flat.  Top talent including Stephen K Amos, Josie Long, John Bishop, Greg Proops, Marcel Lucont, Axis of Awesome and many more were absolutely hilarious in their ingenius improvisational sets.  Notably Greg Proops who is in a class unto himelf.  He utilized his short form improv skills which are most famously displayed in classic episodes of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, and used quick fire topic changes to do short interpretations of each.  A true gem and crowd favourite was the topic of “bringing a know-it-all to a knife fight” where Proops’ remake of West Side Story became an instant classic.

This show is a winning concept that showcases the best of improvisational stand-up while becoming an apparent survival of the fittest competition for anyone who is not quite up to the challenge.


Leave a Reply