How do you sit on a stage playing a video game for three hours, and end the night with a standing ovation? Well if you’re the Game Grumps, that’s what happens every other night.
Game Grumps Live, held in the Egyptian Room in Downtown Indianapolis on Aug. 16, was genuinely one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had at a live show. There was never a moment in which there was not a smile on my face; it was constant fun.
To give some background, the Game Grumps, hosted by Arin Hanson and Dan Avidan, have established themselves as personalities on their YouTube channel since Hanson founded it in 2012, and Avidan joined in, where they have commentated over themselves playing video games and have engaged in various shenanigans on their other show, the Ten Minute Power Hour, minus the video games. The main purpose of the channel is to provide comedy and entertainment to audiences with no specificity.
So, how does two grown men playing video games translate to a live stage? Well, during the Game Grumps’ “Final Party” Tour, Hanson and Avidan stood before all of us in our seats playing Mario Party 10, a game for Nintendo’s Wii-U console, made for four players, stylized like a board game and broken up by occasional mini games. Since Hanson and Avidan are only two people, and the game is made for four people, this is what made Game Grumps Live such a special experience: the whole audience was included.
Watching the Game Grumps on YouTube, a dream of many viewers is to one day play a game with the Grumps. With Game Grumps Live this dream becomes a reality: the audience was split in half, with one side representing the third player and the other half representing the fourth. At every possible moment throughout the game in which either the third or fourth player had to make a choice (which happens very frequently), the respective half of the audience would shout what decision they would like to make. It was very satisfying for our characters to be presented with a choice of left or right, and for it to seem like we were being heard by the Grumps as we shouted left and they chose to go left.
Supplementing this, with every mini game, a member from each half of the audience was selected to come and play as either player three or four depending on their half. This led to so many unexpecting fans to be included in a way that overwhelmed them with joy. Every guest welcomed to the stage was obviously excited to be up there with their personal icons, the second-hand happiness was so potent, I was shaking in my seat in zeal, living vicariously through them. Each individual pulled up got to have a brief conversation with Hanson and Avidan and got to make a statement to the audience to build up hype for the upcoming mini game. A bonus of this was the audience would switch from cheering for the characters or Hanson and Avidan, to cheering for the strangers that were playing for their team. This made the whole audience feel like a community, and made the whole environment more positive.
…the second-hand happiness was so potent, I was shaking in my seat in zeal, living vicariously through them.
The game may have ended with the my half of the audience losing, everyone still erupted with cheers and celebration just because we all had so much fun playing the game together. Once the game had ended, with the extra time left at the venue the Grumps decided to have a spontaneous question and answer session. A microphone was passed around the audience and several people were given the opportunity to talk to Hanson and Avidan. While some stood to tell jokes and question some genuine curiosities, many stood in tears, to tell the Game Grumps how much their content has meant to them, and how having the opportunity to actually share words with them is a fantasy-become-reality. The room flooded with emotion, and the wholesomeness of it all almost brought me to tears.
Hanson and Avidan teased leaving the stage, but just before they were behind the curtain, they burst into song, singing and rapping a song from their video game themed comedy album “Starbomb, The two of them produced with their friend and coworker Brian Wecht. This extra little treat was obviously an addition to the show solely to service the audience, and demonstrated that Hanson and Avidan truly care about their fans and wish to make them happy.
Essentially, seeing Game Grumps during their “Final Party” Tour was like playing a video game with two comedians, and a hive mind of hundreds of other people. There was nothing to not enjoy, with the surprisingly incredible amount of inclusivity and boundless amounts of entertainment. While the Grumps plan to change the format of their live shows after the “Final Party” Tour concludes its run, I would still recommend seeing the Game Grumps if they’re ever coming anywhere near your area. If you can’t make it to a live show, you can always find daily content of theirs on the Game Grumps YouTube channel.