Sunday, January 5, 2014

HOUSE OF LIES Invites Us Over for LIVE Event

Article first published as HOUSE OF LIES Invites Us Over for LIVE Event on TheTVKing.

On New Year's Eve, Showtime presented a special called House of Lies Live. Featuring the four main actors from the network's dramedy teamed up with some young improv comedians, the seven performers take the stage to act out scenes on the fly. Put together by Ben Schwartz and done in front of an audience as the Los Angeles Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre (where Schwartz is an alum and sometimes contributor), it is a funny and interesting presentation.

The bits on House of Lies Live are not connected to the show itself, other than sharing some of the cast. Don Cheadle, Kristen Bell, Schwartz, and Josh Lawson are on hand, but they never play Marty, Jeannie, Clyde, and Doug, their personas from the program. Which makes the title of the special a little confusing.

That being said, it's kind of cool to see these guys in another setting. They are all talented people, and as much as I enjoy House of Lies as a show, I also enjoy them individually playing other roles. From being cats to gay lovers to customer support representatives to overeager waiters, the half hour was full of many different parts, almost universally amusing.

The quartet from House of Lies has terrific chemistry, which is part of what makes their series so entertaining. It seems a little risky to toss three relative unknowns - Lauren Lapkus (Are You There, Chelsea?), Ryan Gaul (Identity Thief), and Eugene Cordero (The Kings of Summer) - in with them. But perhaps because the new trio is closer to those stage roots, they not only hold their own, but seem comfortable doing so.

In fact, it's easy to believe all seven working as a troupe. They play off of one another with ease, and even begin new bits without warning and, apparently, rehearsal or planning. Not one of the seven really stands out as being the lead, all joining together in an relatively even ensemble, helping their teammates more than trying to grab a spotlight for themselves. Though, I will say that Gaul's segment selling chairs had my rolling.

The premise itself seems a little weird. They ask for a lie told by someone in the audience, and take off from there. The early bits done pertain to that starting point, and then the proceedings get odder and odder, jumping from tangent to tangent, never bringing it back around. I believe that's the nature of improv comedy, but for those not knowing what to expect when tuning in, it may have seems a bit lacking in cohesiveness.

In the end, I'm left wanting more. It's unlikely this will be a regular thing, but I enjoyed it a lot. It not only got me excited for next week's House of Lies return, but made me want to see all of these people doing other things.

House of Lies Live is currently repeating on Showtime. Check your listings for air times.

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