The quiz show categories are scrawled in black marker on torn, fading strips of cardboard — much like the homeless individual begging for money on the corner. The prizes are simply the word “PRIZE” scrawled on yet another piece of cardboard. Welcome, not only to the wildest night out you never knew you wanted in Las Vegas — but it’s also the cheapest production to be staged on the Strip. In fact, its budget was less than a $1.99!
Not only is the new “Miss Behave” show in the Back Room Theater at Bally’s outrageous and eccentric, it is a highly chaotic world. “Miss Behave,” played by Amy Saunders, is accompanied onstage with an i-Pad, a heavily tattooed, thin, male assistant, called Tiffany, and piles of those cardboard props!
Low budget doesn’t even begin to describe this insanity but audiences are lapping it up as a poor man’s “Rocky Horror” show and making it a cult-rave without one cent spent on advertising.
I went with a behavioral psychologist in an attempt to understand the no-rules show — and we both got hopelessly lost in its madness. Yet, somehow we joined in throwing sponge balls at the two stars on stage. It’s fast, feverish, frantic, frenetic, frenzied, yet fantastic fun that could spell the end of variety as we once knew it. Who else but “Miss Behave” would twist a thorny rose stem right through her tongue? Yes. We did groan at that performance art!
You must have a cellphone — either an Android or an iPhone. That’s the only rule in the game show as there are no others at all. It’s a one-stop-shop of an evening that will bring out the best and worst in humans with prizes and variety acts (occasionally of questionable quality) thrown in for good measure. This international comedy hit will entice audiences to step out of their comfort zone and immerse themselves into the sinful world presented to them.
Guests are pitted against each other in a series of challenges, some involving their phones. Tweet, text, call “The Miss Behave Game Show” is all about getting interactive on your terms. Except there are no terms in the most anarchic playtime you have ever witnessed. No violence but there is dancing on the seats, rushing the stage or tearing your shirt off.
An award-winning performer in “La Clique” and “La Soiree,” “Miss Behave” is the host of this spazzed-out, slap-happy soiree, with her glamorous (?) assistant Tiffany, played by Bret Pfister. Their audience is divided into two digital tribes to battle it out by phone to win something or nothing. The games include Dial My Number Quickest, The Laid Lottery, Sit on a Seat and See What Happens, Shazam That Riff, Porn I’ll Admit To and Smash a Phone.
Saunders, a showbiz renegade, has dragged this spectacle through Europe, San Francisco, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand. In trying to describe it, theater critics have described it as an episode of “Wheel of Fortune” written by Monty Python and directed by David Lynch. The Scotsman declared it “a full-on orchestrated riot.” The Londonist wondered: “How something this much fun hasn’t been criminalized yet is a minor miracle.”
“Miss Behave,” who lets you wonder if she is man or woman, was an original cast member of “Absinthe” on the East Coast. Despite certain delirious off-kilter similarities, the two shows are completely separate and independent. She does, however, admit to being the go-to-gal for subversive variety.
The veteran international variety star first won her dream gig on the Vegas Strip in 2013. But as soon as she canceled all of her other work, the Vegas producers pulled out and she was stranded. “It was all finally happening! Then — it wasn’t happening. I had no work. That deserved a four-letter exclamative!”
She decided to start all over again and flew to Australia where a little sideshow tent allowed her a season of 15-minute, $5 shows. “I got to figure out what the hell I was doing with my life,” she told me. “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. When life hands you cancellations, do it yourself. What else could a showgirl do? Play with all the things you’ve always wanted to. No restrictions. No rules. A pet rage of mine had been how slow we, as live performers, have been to embrace the change in how our audiences traverse life and entertainment.
“We are all on our cellphones all of the time, but no show ever acknowledged or had fun with that. That was my starting point. There was no money so it was just prizes of rubbish — actually stuff I found thrown out for garbage. I divided the audience into two teams, based on their cellphone of choice. iPhones vs. Everybody else. An anarchic game show.
“Turns out people are really competitive when it comes to their phones. As a punk, anarchist and control freak I took the whole thing one step further to ensure total freedom. Where others favor high-end production I would do the opposite.
“Anyway, there was no money for anything else. So I made the set out of cardboard, duct tape and sharpies. The prizes were, and remain (literally) rubbish — garbage. Turns out people really like playing with rubbish. Now, I had a lo-fi game show where people played with their cellphones and garbage. But how do I get them to be interactive? It’s a game show after all.
“Another frustration of mine is enforced audience participation. So, I refused to have any. Then it came to me. People should just do what they want. It’s amazing how engaged you become if it is an option not a requirement. Consequently, if you want to sit, cellphone-free, and enjoy the chaos, you absolutely should. If you want to text and tweet for the duration, go right ahead. If you want to jump up onstage and strip naked for an extra point for your team, then you’ve just earned yourself an extra point.
“And to my utter joy, all of these things happen routinely thanks to the infinite and varied responses of a live crowd free to play as they wish. Turns out people like anarchy as much as they like their phones.”
Here’s the YouTube vide
o of this insane social experiment:
She tried to explain: “I seemed to be addressing all the things that frustrated me in live entertainment. I decided to smash one more common showbiz factor into the dust. I’ve always found exclusivity and cliques divisive, cruel and unnecessary. As a result I have ended up with a high-brow, low-brow, satirical, crass and insanely good-time social experiment. On the one hand, clever and proper funny, on the other, the biggest guilty pleasures party, and you’re all invited.
“No two shows are the same because one cannot know what the audience will do on any given night. Perfect for someone with a low boredom threshold and ADHD, (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder,) which is pretty much all of us now, isn’t it? So, the thing I did when my Vegas dream died is the thing that has brought me to Vegas. And, on my own terms. I’ve learnt that when life gives you lemons — smile; say, ‘thank you;’ and get to making that lemonade. Look what can happen! The audiences descend into a full on riot of good times and total idiocy. Vegas is no different than what we’ve experienced elsewhere in the world. It’s a conundrum: How do you win if there are no rules? You just have to come to the show and find out for yourself.”