Miss Behave Gameshow Wednesday-Sunday, 8 p.m., $50. The Back Room at Bally’s, 702-967-4111.
"I hate audience participation when I’m an audience member,” says Absinthe/La Soirée alumna Amy Saunders. “There are performers who do audience participation brilliantly, but nonetheless, it would be my idea of hell to have to get up and do something onstage because I’ve been asked to do it.”
Well, that’s awkward, because much of the Miss Behave Gameshow—Saunders’ uproarious comedy-variety show, now playing in the Back Room at Bally’s—kinda depends on the audience getting involved. In her role as the show’s namesake, gold sequin-clad host, Saunders urges her audience to confess personal details, run to the stage for impromptu performances and even throw stuff at her. And almost to a man, the crowd complies, because this isn’t audience participation as you’ve come to know and fear it. Miss Behave charms her audience into participating by encouraging it to compete with itself.
“If all you want to do is sit back the whole show with no expression on your face, that is correct,” Saunders says. “But if you to get up onstage, get butt naked and do a back somersault, that is correct … You don’t have to do anything, so you can do whatever you want.’”
The Miss Behave Gameshow comes at you in the guise of a points-based battle between one half of the audience and the other. (The two halves are called the “iPhone users” and the “others,” for reasons we’ll get to shortly.) Miss Behave delivers a rapid-fire series of mini-games with the help of her two assistants, Tiffany (a mustachioed and nimble Bret Pfister) and Alexa (Elizabeth Colon Nelson, pixielike yet subversive). Some games require you to shout out answers, to simply stand up or sit down, or—remarkably—to look away from the action and get on your phone.
“I’ve played directly to the audience for a long time as an emcee, comic and a variety act,” Saunders says. “And it blew me away that nobody shut down the use of mobile phones [during shows]. Now, the same person who tells you not to get on your phone gets on their phone when they leave the stage. It’s changed how we are, so you have to embrace it.”
But taking selfies and sending texts is a very small part of the fun. There are impromptu sing-alongs; variety acts including the hula-hoop virtuoso Marawa the Amazing and hilarious burlesque performer Evil Hate Monkey; and other surprises that defy easy description. But most significantly, the Miss Behave Gameshow will have you as its star—shouting, laughing and participating. The host will see to that.
“I’ve always said that I have to facilitate peoples’ good times; that’s my job as an entertainer,” Saunders says. “I’m living my best life.”