What do you get when you cross-pollinate a panel trivia show, storytelling, and improvisation? Something that looks a bit like You're Making That Up!, featuring local performers Mike Fotis, Joseph Scrimshaw, and Sharon Stiteler; novelist Neil Gaiman; and host John Moe (Wits).
The first You're Making that Up!
YMTU started as a post-show conversation between Gaiman, Moe, Sharon Stiteler, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy one evening after a Wits performance in St. Paul, says Stiteler, who devised the show along with Gaiman. "Neil started talking about how much he enjoyed panel shows, which are a staple of British TV and radio, and the quick-fire improv games they'd been playing on Wits," she says. "Now, I'm a huge fan of QI, which is a panel show hosted by Stephen Fry, so my ears immediately perked up, and we got the idea to try and put this together as a show."
Some time later, Gaiman and Stiteler sat down and sketched out ideas for a panel show "that wasn't about news or trivia, but about creativity and storytelling," Stiteler says. The show would be about making up "new facts for a new world."
The group did their first preview in January at the Bryant-Lake Bowl to test out the games and see what worked and what didn't. "Everybody seemed to have a great time, and the audience laughed a lot," says Stiteler. "We've been going over the recording, and I'm anxious to see how the crowd reacts to the new stuff, the stuff we've altered, and the stuff that killed last time."
Stiteler says YMTU is unique because it isn't about the day's news or about trivia, it's about having a creative response to a prompt, like inventing details of a visit to an imaginary town, then talking about its tourist attractions and unusual history. "Also, it's not a competitive," he points out, but rather collaborative. "My favorite parts so far are when the players add on to someone's story and it goes off in a completely new direction."
After the team gets the structure down, they're hoping to do a pilot for public radio. "Then, of course, a theme park and perhaps our own island nation," Stiteler adds jokingly.
You're Making That Up! preview performance
8 p.m. Thursday (tonight)
The Brave New Workshop Student Union
2605 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis
Panelists featured this evening are Neil Gaiman, Mike Fotis, Joseph Scrimshaw, and Sharon Stiteler, along with host John Moe.