“Middleditch & Schwartz:” Comedy for the ages

A review of a fantastic three episode improv special

Danny Edwards, Arts & Entertainment Editor
Originally published February 12th, 2021

Courtesy of Middleditch & Schwartz

Listen, I know that when one reads the word “improv,” they might conjure images of cringe-worthy productions in a less than desirable theatre space. I was one of those people.

When “Middleditch & Schwartz” was first recommended to me my initial thought was “improv? No way!” I took a chance, though, and boy am I glad I did.

Almost a year ago, comedians Thomas Middleditch and Ben Schwartz released this special on Netflix. If you’re bored in quarantine or just straight up depressed from the news, this is the perfect way to lift your spirits!

You might recognize Thomas Middleditch from his leading role in the hit show “Silicon Valley,” or as that man with the bow-tie and the poor goldfish from that one scene in “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

   Ben Schwartz is probably most known for his role as Jean-Ralphio Saperstein in “Parks and Recreation,” as well as Sonic in “Sonic the Hedgehog.”

   The basic structure of each episode of the special is as follows: Middleditch and Schwartz will introduce themselves, and then ask the audience if there is anything coming up in their lives that they are excited or nervous about. People will yell out responses and they will pick one person to focus on.

The beauty of the performances is that they are completely unique every single time. 

    They spend a few minutes asking more questions and then use that audience member’s story as a basis for the next 52 minutes. 

    If you’re still turned off by “improv,” let me try to remedy that. Turns out, improv is really funny when performed by trained professionals. 

    In this two-man show, Middleditch and Schwartz embody a multitude of characters and use the entire space of the stage whilst only having two chairs as props.

    The director, Ryan Polito, also deserves a lot of credit. The cameras catch every movement and every perfect close-up that just makes the jokes funnier.

    The chemistry between the two is incredible and creates a wonderful push and pull performance. They often forget characters that they created and remember them thirty minutes later, but that is part of the appeal.

    These three episodes, “Parking Lot Wedding,” “Law School Magic” and “Dream Job” are only a snapshot of the many shows Middleditch & Schwartz performed across the country.

    I can’t recommend them highly enough. So please, if you need a laugh head on over to Netflix and watch the shows. You won’t regret it.