What will you do with your one wild life?
On one hand it is a big question with repercussions that reverberate from the center of your being all the way into the darkest corners of who you are willing to admit being. On the other hand in its simplest form it confronts you and asks if you're living your best life in the moment.
Are you living your best life, and are you having fun. Fun seems to have been lost beneath a wave of negative news cycles, marches, political foibles, climate change, student loans and on and on. Fun needs to have a place. A place where it can thrive, rejuvenate and a place where you'll laugh and applaud and clap your hands in spontaneous joy. That place exists. I've been there. That place is wherever Tom Gun Live happens to be.
You didn't see that coming did you?
Tom Gun Live is a stage show by The Fly Entertainment, the same troupe that brought us Point Break Live. This show has the same hook. The lead actor playing the character of Tom Cruise is chosen out of the audience based on impromptu auditions and the audiences response. In this case that audience member will be playing the iconic Maverick character from Top Gun, a beloved 80's movie featuring testosterone fueled volleyball, epic dog-fighting, an iconic love seen, tooth chomping Val Kilmer, and a love story between Maverick and one of his flight instructors, Charlie. Or with his fight mate Goose depending on your perspective.
The premise of this show is that you're attending Tom Cruise's birthday party which is him performing his iconic role for you, along with a montage of some of his other classics (also chosen by the audience). Tom inconveniently gets waylaid on his way to the theatre and is running late. Via a cleverly customized Skype video chat he asks the crowd to get the party going without him. He'll be there as soon as his Uber driver can find his way out of Chula Vista.
From there it is non-stop action. Unlike a play, Tom Gun Live is as interactive a stage show as I've seen. The audience chosen Tom Cruise, or in the case of the show I attended "Tan Cruise" is put through the ringer. He doesn't need to know the lines because he has a special assistant guiding him around the stage with cue cards.
The performers take the characters of Goose, Iceman, Charlie, Sundown, Viper and the rest to a level of parody that is over the top. Gags involving migrating mustaches, tighty-whities, oil, paper airplanes and zipline missiles. There is no shortage of reasons to keep the supplied safety goggles on tight. And the volleball. Oh my, the volleball.
The simplicity by design props and audience integration is brilliant. The appeal of Tom Gun Live isn't the gags. It is the story and camaraderie that develops between all of us in the audience experiencing and participating in this show, in this moment together. Tom Gun Live is a well-choreographed spectacle of chaos. And it's fun. So much damn fun you'll forget to put it on Instagram or Snapchat to your friends who didn't come. You'll be laughing, smiling and throwing paper airplanes with the rest of us.
More than a review of a show the purpose of this post is to remind you, remind us that for as important a time as we find ourselves we still need fun in our lives. We deserve moments of pure, unadulterated joy. As adults those moments seem further apart as we deal with the responsibilities of adulthood, 24-hour news cycles and more misinformation that ever. When you get the chance, turn it off and spend an evening immersed in fun. Maybe with 200 of your new closest friends at a show.
Tom Gun Live is just starting its run of shows on the West Coast. Look for them Los Angeles, San Francisco and in San Diego again soon. You can learn more, get tickets or see clips at TomGunLive.com