(as seen on Sunday August 17th, 2014)

by Ruth Thomson

Prompter is a new format from Troy Conrad, the creator of the late night fringe show Set List: Stand-up Without a Net which features 6 acts improvising on a sequence of words or phrases which appear on a screen by the stage. The two Setlists I caught included some great stuff – manic Aussie Wil Anderson on his family of farmers (and Sally Field); Josie Long on her shark/human negotiation skills; and best of all the master of the form Greg Proops as a smartass in the midst of a Jets and Sharks knife fight. Setlist works because the format couldn’t really get any simpler.

Not so with Prompter which Troy had to explain at (unnecessary) length – here’s the deal: four comics take turns at presenting a TED talk reading off a teleprompter which is broken, so every so often they have to improvise for a bit before returning to the script. Each comic is given a character name (i.e. Professor Taylor Twaddledeck) and the title of their talk. So if the comic involved is already a character (i.e. snooty Frenchman Marcel Lucont), it’s a character doing a character.

I love the idea of mocking the concept of TED (the increasingly corporate and well groomed looking ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’ conference) as much as the next person so I hope this format can be further developed for next year – the broken teleprompter could be ditched though. As it is, the best of the show was Philadelphia born Hassidic comic Yisrael Campbell on the benefits of chemical spills, the aforementioned Lucont on the scientific value of The Bee Gees, and Axis of Awesome frontman Jordan Raskopoulos on the hidden paradise that is North Korea.


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