“The brain is the most important super power of all.”
Though that was one of the closing lines of the afternoon, Adam’s admission that we are all superheroes – even those of us who lack laser eyes or the power of flight – deserves to be the opening line to any conversation about the MythBusters Behind the Myths Tour.
Adam Savage (aforementioned) and Jamie Hyneman (famous mostly for his walrus moustache) are the hosts of the popular TV show MythBusters, a long running Discovery Channel show (currently at thirteen seasons, with no end in sight) where the hosts attempt to… well… bust myths. They take myths, some from pop culture, some submitted by audience members, and some reported in newspapers as unlikely stories, and attempt to prove whether or not these events could have actually occurred, all the while cracking jokes and trying to sneak in a little education as well. Between the two, there are decades of special effects experience, so they really do know their stuff when they rig up their experiments, and that definitely comes across during the stage show. While not in attendance at the stage show, the MythBusters TV team also consists of the secondary ‘Build Team’, Kari Byron, Grant Imahara, and Tory Belleci, who bust their own sets of myths on the show, and bring their own talents (robot building, for example) and humour to the screen.
The show opens with a fun pre-recorded tour of the MythBusters set, with a lot of behind the scenes looks into the workshops and offices featured in the TV show. For a diehard MythBusters fan, particularly one from Australia, this is an amazing experience, as it allows us a little glimpse into a set that we recognise fondly, but may never get the chance to see in real life. Adam and Jamie enter to raucous applause, of course, and the atmosphere of the show remains light and humourous for the entire presentation, complete with a Star Wars themed dress up battle halfway through.
The central theme of the show is, as noted in the opening, the concept of real life superheroes, in that we are all capable of being ‘superpowered’. Adam explains that he learned to juggle as a child, but as he got bored of regular tricks, he developed his skills with new, seemingly impossible tricks. On the outside, these tricks appeared to defy physics, but in fact they relied on simple physics and mathematical patterns, much in the way that a seemingly inhuman superpower could be mechanical (in the case of Batman, for example), or an unexplainable myth could be easily busted with the application of creative thinking. Watching his juggling, and the simple physics tricks that were spread throughout the show, got me thinking about the ease with which we can appear superpowered, if we can only be creative about the things that we make or do.
Even for those of us who try to avoid learning at all costs, MythBusters is full of things to entertain a lazy brain, the most impressive of which are the explosions. While it was obviously impossible to blow anything up onstage (though, I must admit, I was a little disappointed that they didn’t even make the tiniest of sparks), the theatre’s bass-driven sound system was harnessed to make you feel their best explosions as they played a highlight reel above the stage. Every one of the audience’s favourite explosions was in there, from smaller ones to my personal favourite, the mysterious disappearing concrete truck. There was also a liberal application of high speed/slow motion videos, both a succession of those appearing on the TV show and a few home-made versions with audience members, where people could be horribly embarrassed onstage by slow, detailed videos of them blowing raspberries at a camera.
Interspersed with the videos and onstage trickery, both Adam and Jamie were allowed time for a short Q&A session with the audience. Adam is by far a better storyteller than Jamie, but Jamie got a lot more technical than Adam, so there was extreme merit in being able to listen to both of them answer questions separately. While I didn’t get to ask my question of Adam (I wanted to know more about his special effects work on The Matrix), there were plenty of interesting questions for both gentlemen, and the interaction with the crowd really made the show special.
The final act, an enormous, four-barrel, fully automatic paintball gun, was enormously entertaining for everyone in the room, except perhaps the poor man who was dressed in a medieval suit of armour and placed directly in the line of fire. Adam and Jamie showed off both their creativity (in designing their guns) and their manic natures (in shooting a poor guy and laughing hysterically) at this point, and really drew all of the themes of the show together. It’s okay to have fun, it’s good to be creative, and anyone can be a superhero and beat up the bad guy. If the bad guy is just a guy in a suit of armour, and beating him up involves hundreds of paintball pellets hitting him every minute.