Cruise Director - photo by Elizabeth McQuern
Cruise Director - photo by Elizabeth McQuern

Nina Metz at the Tribune reviewed Impress These Apes today:

This season has a cruise ship theme, and I realize writing about this show can sometimes look like an exercise in non sequiturs. Why apes? Why a cruise ship? Why the future?

I don’t know. But it works. All of it. Even in its shaggier moments. Every piece works, and I don’t know that I can say that about any other theatrical offering in town, comedy or not.

Why a cruise ship? Because Erica didn’t want me to cut my hair.

Over the first six seasons of the show we established a sort of informal rule for the host—it’s not a random character, but someone who could some other sort of show or event—like Game Show Host (Jared Logan), Beauty Pageant Host (Ken Barnard), and Air Hostess (Kristen Studard). Last season I hosted as Sports Show Host and as part creating the character I had a very specific look) in mind. I borrowed an awesome jacket from my friend Ryan, got a short haircut and shaved down to a mustache.

Impress These Apes Live Callbacks July 9, 2012
Sports Show Host, photo by Elizabeth McQuern

Well, over the last two years my beard has gotten pretty long and my hair is pretty shaggy. As we began talking about remounting the show for an eighth time I warned Erica that I was going to trim down to play Sports Show Host. I’m no Method actor, but I just couldn’t see that trim and proper character with this mess I’ve got going on now. “Well, OK, you can do whatever you want, but I like your beard and hair,” she said. Well dang, how can I disappoint my sweet wife?

The Lancasters - Photo by Oomphotography
Photo of the Lancasters by Oomphotography

So I started brainstorming ideas for hosts who would have long hair and a beard. Somebody who had been stranded on an island, for example. Anybody could be stranded on an island, but who would be most likely? Somebody from a boat. Pirate Host? Fisherman Host? What about from a cruise ship? We know people who have worked on cruise ships as the entertainment—Cruise Ship Variety Show Host! And then I remembered Love Boat—”and your Cruise Director Julie”.

And that would have been that except that when I shared my new host idea at our first season eight production meeting it hit a spark with everyone in the room. “We’ll do the whole show on a cruise!” someone exclaimed and we were off.

So that’s why a cruise ship: Erica likes her husband with a bit of hair. And I work with a great group of comedian/producers who see a small idea and take it to its illogical extremes. Seven weeks left!