Our presidential election should be decided by a human chess match. It would be so much more effective than the electoral college (damn you, Alexander Hamilton!). I was nine years old when I witnessed such an event (a human chess match, not Alexander Hamilton defending the electoral college). It was at the Renaissance Faire being held on the John Ringling property in Sarasota, Fla.
There they were: a real king and a real queen (not Freddie Mercury, unfortunately) sending their human “pieces” around the board. The players had actual weapons and they would fight to the “death.” They used squibs and everything. I took a look around and noticed everyone was in period dress, the men carried swords, and the women had breasts pushed up to their chins. I decided right then: I’m gonna live here.
This was before I realized that these costumed adults were all still living with their parents and incessantly quoting Monty Python movies. It was cool to me, once…and then I turned ten.
These emotions all came flooding back as I watched all’s faire, a new web series (previewed right here) from Thom Woodley of Dinosaur Diorama and Bob McClure based on their feature screenplay of the same name.
Ben (Joe Thompson), the stage manager, leads a merry band of misfits as they cling to their fantasy jobs at a failing Renaissance Faire.
Cindy (Kelli Giddish), the Princess and Kent (Trevor Jones), the White Knight wrestle with relationship issues as their slacker friends try to get through the day. Ian the Wizard (McClure) can’t come to grips with his failing acting career. Smokey the Armorer (Matt Yeager), Magnus the Celtic Warrior (Mike Still) and Ploppy the Mud Mistress (Maryll Botula) seem to be gleefully delusional about their futures. All of these travails are happily punctuated by the minstrels, Bobbin (Woodley) and Pippin (Jeff Skowron).
After the success of both The Burg and The All-For-Nots, Woodley certainly seems to be one of the leaders in Internet entertainment. Along with co-writers, McClure and Yeager (of Puddinhead Brothers), Woodley really captures the essence of what’s hilarious about the sub-culture of ren faires.
Sure it’s an easy target (i.e. David Wain will be going medieval in the upcoming Role Models and Christina Ricci is starring in a faire flick to debut in 2009). But without the deft hand of Woodley, this kind of satire could easily fall flat. Instead, we get a laugh out loud series where the characters (not unlike his other shows) actually feel three-dimensional. Not an easy feat given the nature of the format.
Everyone does a great job here, especially McClure as the wizard and Jones as the White Knight. But, its Woodley and Skowron as the Minstrels that are truly inspired. They should be in every episode. I’ll be waiting for their rock opera (Pinball Wizard. Literally…get it? Wizards!). And when everyone gets together to kick out the Romulan, we see a harmonic convergence of nerd-dom that would make Kevin Smith drool.
I did some checking. There are about 191 Renaissance Faires in the U.S. (a good amount, but hey, I’ll take ren faire fans over carny’s). A lot of these events specify whether or not you can bring weapons. Yes, swords, but also firearms. The sword usually must be “peace-tied”. Last time I peace-tied my sword, ah, forget it. But, guns? Look, I saw Reign of Fire. You cannot kill dragons with modern weaponry. Just people. On accident. While eating your funnel cake. Then we’ve got Medieval Times (red knight goin’ down !), though I prefer my jousts with ostriches.
Sorry, nostalgia kicked in. The bottom line is everyone needs to escape. So, it’s best just to sit back, relax, and give a great series a watch at AllsFaire.tv.