Come on down! ‘Old School Game Show’ is the nuttiest show in town
Not everyone gets to live a dream, but at “Old School Game Show” it appears there’ll be dream-realization to spare. When host/creator Mike D’Angelo had a chance to fulfill his own dream of joining the studio audience on “The Price is Right” recently, he learned a valuable lesson about what makes a great show.
“It’s all about the euphoria of people going crazy,” says D’Angelo on the eve of “Old School Game Show’s” upcoming performance (with the SambaViva dancers) at Somerville’s Davis Square Theater this Sunday. He always knew it was important for the host to be exciting, but he didn’t realize how important is was that the audience to be excited too. That is, until he had his “Price is Right” pre-show interview.
“They asked me [who I was] and I said ‘Hey, my name is Mike, and I’m a graphic designer!’ Then they asked the woman next to me, and she said, ‘My name is Bernice!!! And I’m here to win lots of money!!!’ And then she started dancing. That’s when I realized, ‘OK, she’s going to be on the show.’”
Soon after, the Newton-native and veteran of Boston’s rock scene decided to slip into his own white patent leather shoes and put together the first production of the “R-Rated,” trivia-based live game show night this past May.
With buzzers, retro props, an announcer, hostesses and a band of local all-star musicians (including Kingsley Flood’s Chris Barrett and Parks’ Matt Girard) introducing the night with Herb Alpert’s “Dan the Banjo Man,” the first show was an instant success.
According to D’Angelo, seeing the joy in audience members’ faces makes it all worth it. You can tell them ahead of time if you want to be put in the contestant fish bowl — onstage, participants are divided into two teams and led through rounds, with new players added every round, to compete for prizes.
It might sound like a goof, but in the end, D’Angelo stands behind the science of selecting a winner. “You should see my board at home,” D’Angelo says of his kitchen diagram. “I have red string connecting everything, but it checks out!”
Some of D’Angelo’s games will be familiar to denizens of forward-thinking trivia nights and game shows (such as MTV’s “Remote Control”), but the best games are those invented by D’Angelo himself.
“Shut the Front Door,” for one, takes famous movie obscenities and re-states them as PG-rated golly-isms. “Chipmunk Speedmetal” takes songs and speeds them up until they’re almost unrecognizable. The best, however, might be “Robot Thespian,” wherein a recurring character (Bruce Connors, Robot Thespian) delivers famous movie monologues in a robot voice.
“I’ve always been a fan of making games to play in the car or at home,” says D’Angelo, “Robot Thespian,” for example, was a party game that he spontaneously created for his girlfriend’s birthday party. “We didn’t have a character yet, but we had the text-voice on the computer!”