Today, I had the chance to preview the newest attraction at the MK, Tomorrowland's Monsters Inc Laugh Floor Comedy Club. All I can say is... what were they thinking???
****SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT ON!! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!!!!****
Ok.. step by step here... The show plot revolves around the monsters finding out that laughter, NOT screams, energizes Monstropolis. Therefore they had the bright idea to open a comedy club. That's it.
The queue still looks very much like it did before... some columns and not much. This time, the imagineers have added painted banners as decor. Very cheap. They have also added a switchback rail, so now the guests go back and forth as opposed to having ample space to move while they wait in that first indoor room. At the end of this queue is a set of doors that lead to Monstropolis, but in reality, it means another queue and holding area. Here in the 2nd queue, we have TV monitors above that ask guests to text message their jokes for concideration and use in the show. Nice interactive feature. My joke of course was NOT used. May as well... After about 7 mins, we enter the main theater, aka the "comedy club".
The stage is simple with some set dressing. A huge screen and two small ones. In one of them we see the character of Ross keeping an eye on things. Lots of "eye" jokes on this show, so brace yourselves. The main screen is something similar to Talk with Crush's format. The other small screen looks like a door way where we see that single-eye monster most of the time. What's his name again??? The big Bluish one... Surly? is nowhere to be found here. Thumbs down on that.
The audience sits in row of seats that even have lamps, to make it feel as if we were in a real comedy theater with tables.. All that is missing here are the cocktail waitresses coming around every so often. One CM does act as a liason between the characters on the screen and guests, bringing the mike to guests' so they can interact with the characters.
The only funny joke comes early... Ross telling the audience "if you don't laugh, we may not have enough power to be able to open the exit doors at the end of the show.." Talk about incentive to laugh!!! From this point on, the show goes downhill.. There are some mildly funny moments, so not all is a waste of time. Those watching this preview with me seemed genuine about laughing here and there, but then again, I sat there... thinking to myself... "I really want this to be good enough to make me smile, but GOD! They are trying so hard and bombing so badly!!" Of course, the tourists around me will laugh at this... not big HAHA laughs but moderate ones... hehehehe! These out of towners will laugh at anything. Maybe they should catch "Monorail Inferno" while it's playing in Downtown Orlando's Parliament House... for a real good belly laugh!
As a matter of fact, the only moment that exceeded my expectations came when the little table lamps throughout the theater flickered as a reaction to one of the jokes. That technical aspect was cute. As for the show's format... frankly, Crush still does it better with it's minimal set over at the Living Seas. Here, the Monsters do point out (and use) several members of the audience as point of reference for their jokes. That is probably the most effective tool on this show, since some of these guests do look like people you may have seen them on "America's Most Wanted". So, you can say that the joke is really on us the guests!! (drum crash!) Now you get the idea of this show since I illustrated it so well for you.
Like Crush, the Monsters here do engage guests into audience participation and conversation... It's a risk... as it's up to the guests to make it or break it. However, the people in the sound booth providing the voices here do have to recover and they do so nicely, while being mildly funny at times. BTW... this being a test preview, there were a few Imagineers sitting in the very back of the theater keeping an eye of things... and curiously enough, I didn't see any of them laugh. Not once. Also, in the course of this 12 mins show, 4 guests got up and left the theater mid show. NOT one single Monster made a comment or joke directed and them as they left.
All in all... The show is not a total waste of time, as it does have a few moments where it can be funny, but not funny enough to make you want to stay or wish this was a longer experience. Also, there may be times when the show may be great or times when it may be mediocre... due to the "live" aspect of it. Much depends on how the actors on the mike are able to engage the crowd watching. Apart from that, I feel this "Comedy Club" format does not belong at the MK. While the idea may sound fun, the execution is simply so-so, and the fact that we are in Tomorrowland, may have something to do with it. Still... I am not sure how succesful this show will be with foreign guests who can not understand a word of English. The concept seem "too grown up" to fit with the MK's themes. Further complicating the show is one nagging objection of mine... the animated characters look bad. The animation looks flat and cheap. There is no 3D feeling to these characters, and frankly... I felt I was watching a huge TV in a passably decorated theater, rather than being in a "Comedy Club" per se. The whole thing fell flat for me (no pun intended). The TV screen here is not even widescreen for pete's sake!
So... my final rating? D+ But like I said... some people may have a better experience over others... so just go try it and make up your own mind.
BTW... I did make it to EPCOT and checked out the new theater location for "Talk with Crush". The new theater is somewhat bigger but not HUGE! I did like the overhead neon lights simulating waves. Other than that, not much improvement there, but at least this show is still better than the Comedy Club at the MK.
I took a few pics with my cellphone for your enjoyment.