Left to right: Cody Melcher, Steven Lyons and Bryan Bowden of 'Just…
If a question you frequently ask yourself is, "How can I bring more humor into my life?" then local comedians Steven Lyons (ComedySportz), Cody Melcher (100 Proof Comedy) and Bryan Bowden (Chicago Underground Comedy) have a solution for you.
Their shared affection for such British panel quiz shows as "QI," "Would I Lie to You?" and "Have I Got News for You" has resulted in "Just The FAQs," a comedy contest which combines trivia factoids and frequent liars. Lyons hosts the show, in which two teams—which are headed by Melcher and Bowden and feature special guests—attempt to discern the truth—or lack thereof—in the other team's trivia pronouncements. The program has been in development since last summer and features audience interaction, short comedic "palate cleanser" interludes between rounds and onstage conversational antics.
"The difference between the British panel show and the American game show that we wanted to focus on was the idea of letting it breathe and letting comedians or entertaining personalities have fun with each other," said Melcher, "rather than games shows where they point at people and make them be funny for that moment." To get in on the game ourselves, we asked Lyons to present Melcher and Bowden with questions relating to the show. We'll leave it to you to decide which responses are fact and which are fiction.
"Just The FAQs"
Go: 8 p.m. Sunday at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave.
Tickets: $10. 773-327-5252; stage773.com
Just the facts on the "Just The FAQs" creators
Steven Lyons: A California-born, New Zealand-raised ensemble member of ComedySportz Chicago and New Zealand's Improv Bandits
Cody Melcher: Finalist in the National Queer Comedy Search, cast member of 100 Proof Comedy, senior writer for the "Talk Hard" live talk show and co-host of the Tomefoolery literary podcast
Bryan Bowden: Co-producer and cast member of Chicago Underground Comedy and instructor at The Second City Training Center
Steven: Bryan and Cody, a pleasure to have you on the page with me today. I've been asked to ask you some questions about our new panel comedy show "Just The FAQs." Firstly, what is the show?
Bryan: A show where comedians and entertainers get to play a game while being funny. The game consists of two teams of three panelists who present facts about an interest of theirs while the other team tries to figure out if they were presented with a truth or a lie.
Cody: The show is a cross between the sports of basketball and curling but we've added a component of quiz questions to throw the contestants off-balance.
Steven: Why do a British-style panel show in the Americas?
Bryan: Because recent demographic research has shown that the next big British trend in America will be panel shows. It goes Harry Potter, Dr. Who, panel shows.
Cody: Because comedy isn't as regional as people think, especially in modern times with the internet and technology bringing us all together. I was raised on [both] British and American comedy and I feel that happens even more today.
Steven: How did "Just The FAQs" come about?
Bryan: I mentioned to Steven Lyons that I loved British panel shows and would love to try one in Chicago. Cody had also mentioned his undying love of panel shows to Steven before, and so we all met and created "Just The FAQs."
Cody: An old wizard gave me a small monkey holding a large grapefruit and the rest is history.
Steven: How long has Just The FAQs been running?
Bryan: Our first show is on Nov. 17, [but] it has been in production since the summer. We've been working on the concept [and] structure and did a dry-run practice [performance] because we really want to make sure it works as a show.
Cody: We've been secretly doing the show since 2010, but last month we decided to finally allow audiences to see it. It's like we're opening our own Disney Vault.
Steven: What will audiences see when they come to "Just The FAQs"?
Bryan: A very fun and entertaining comedy show unlike any ever seen in Chicago.
Cody: It depends on what hallucinogenics they take before the show.
Steven: How does social media play into the format of the show?
Bryan: Google purchased us a month ago.
Cody: We're trying to use Facebook and Twitter to let people know about the show and what to expect—and to get the word out. Eventually, Twitter will be worked into the show to [ask followers to] help us choose elements of what happens.
Steven: Who are our panelists this month?
Bryan: A duck call specialist, a breakdancing nun, the last living medicine show performer and Cody's mom.+
Cody: We have comedians, entertainers and storytellers Peter-john Byrnes, Erica Reid, Dave Stinton and Alexandra Tsarpalas, whose credits among them include Just for Laughs Chicago, The Kates, Blewt Productions and Write Club.