There’s nothing inherently wrong with Disney’s blockbuster film franchise. The films are equally entertaining for kids and adults. They have gripping stories and impressive effects. They don’t let actors facing felony charges still star in their films while canceling one of the few that feature a famous heroine — as Warner Bros. and the DC Cinematic Universe did with Ezra Miller’s The Flash and Leslie Grace’s Batgirl.
They also eat up a lot of space at the box office, raking in a ton of money and inspiring a whole wave of imitators. So technically, Marvel is responsible for all those bad DC Comics movies.
However, Marvel has also indirectly spawned something innovative, different and entertaining and (gasp!) this one doesn’t involve Ryan Reynolds.
The Marvel-ous Night of Comedy features a group of local comedians possessed by the souls of some of Marvel Comics’ most iconic characters as they perform stand-up on a live stage. The show starts at 8 p.m. (doors open at 7 p.m.) on Sunday, Aug. 14, at Hyena’s Comedy Nightclub in Mockingbird Station.
“Watching the movies with friends and either cracking jokes in the movies or immediately afterwards was a pastime to me that I didn’t even realize I missed until COVID,” says comedian Josh Stramiello. “There’s something special about the Marvel movie specifically and I’ve been watching them for 14-plus years now. I really aged with the characters, and my life perspective in my humor is much more adult now.”
The show features nine comedians including Stramiello as the billionaire engineering genius Tony Stark/Iron Man, Geoffrey Egglestein as the mischievous Loki, Liem Smith as the spiritual martial arts master Shang Chi, Chris Hopkins as Avengers’ founder Nick Fury, Tyson Faifer as the super soldier Captain America, Monna as the Scarlet Witch, Jorge Cortez as Wolverine and Joey Johnson as the mighty Thor.
The Marvel movies may not usually crack above the PG-13 rating, but Sunday’s show lets its heroes say whatever is on their mind.
“You can literally feel yourself growing out of the target market even though the movie stays excellent,” Stramiello says. “What I wanted to do is take something I’m super passionate about in stand-up comedy and bring adult-sized humor to the stories and character that we have all grown up with.”
Stramiello and his cast tried to pair off each comedian to the core of the franchise’s most iconic characters. Faifer competed on NBC’s America Ninja Warrior, so he’s a natural pairing for the super-sized Steve Rogers and because “we’re both stuck in a time period. I’m still living in the ’90s,” Faifer says.
“I developed Captain American stand-up material by studying the character and applying what parts of my standard comedy act could be used as the captain’s point of view,” Faifer says, “what his take would be on certain modern-day topics with movie references mixed in for the real Marvel audience.”
Hopkins says his preparation for playing Nick Fury was “a muthafucka.”
“Me and [Samuel L. Jackson] both spent time in the hood in Chattanooga, birthplace of the blues,” Hopkins says. “Chattanooga is where I started stand-up comedy. I smoke a blunt or three, watched Pulp Fiction on a continuous loop for 48 hours and communicated using only the word ‘motherfucker’ for a week.”
If you haven’t figured it out by now, this Marvel show may not be appropriate for younger comic book fans. Stramiello says it gives them a chance to really dive into how these heroes and villains think and talk if they weren’t muffled by practices and standards and the ever-changing tastes of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).
“We can get really R-rated and raunchy and give an honest take on what these characters would be going through in a way that the movies can’t really address,” Stramiello says.