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Reduced Shakespeare Company presents The Complete History of Comedy (abridged)

July 16, 2023 | 2:00 pm

The Complete History of Comedy (abridged) answers the fundamental questions:
  • Which is the least funny nationality? Which is the funniest? Why did the former try to exterminate the latter?
  • How do critics describe everything in a way to make it sound unfunny? (“First of all, the premise is weak. No one would ever believe that a baseball team would actually have a first baseman named “Who.”)
  • Why, in fact, did the chicken cross the road?
Tickets to The Complete History of Comedy (abridged) are far more affordable than tickets to an amusement park, but you’ll come away with the same feeling of nausea and motion sickness. From cavemen telling “Rock Rock” jokes to Will Smith upset at Chris Rock’s jokes and everything in-between, the “bad boys of abridgement” leave no joke untold as they deconstruct the entire history of comedy in 90 rollicking minutes.
They’ve skewered history, the Bible and the world’s most celebrated playwright. Now, The Reduced Shakespeare Company tackles the subject it was born to reduce. From the high-brow to the low, The Complete History of Comedy (abridged) covers comedy through the ages, from Shakespeare and Moliere (Is Moliere funny? Why not?) to Napoleon (Dynamite) and Vaudeville and Charlie Chaplin to The Simpsons and Ted Lasso. From cavemen telling “Rock Rock” jokes to Will Smith upset at Chris Rock’s jokes and everything in-between, the bad boys of abridgment leave no joke untold as they deconstruct the entire history of comedy in 90 rollicking minutes.
CONTENT ADVISORY: In the spirit of Shakespeare’s comedies, RSC shows contain comic depictions of violence, mild innuendo, bawdy language, and the occasional rude word. All children (and parents) are different, so we’ve chosen to rate our shows PG-13: Pretty Good If You’re Thirteen.

LOCATION: Valborg Theatre, 480 Howard St., Boone, NC 28608

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact the Box Office at theschaefercenter@appstate.edu or call 800-841-2787 or 828-262-4046.

ACCOMMODATION STATEMENT: Appalachian is committed to providing an inclusive experience for individuals with disabilities. If accommodations are needed in order to fully participate on the basis of a disability, contact the Office of Disability Resources (828.262.3056). It is recommended that accommodation requests be made two weeks prior to the event.


Standard: $25
Students: $15

Sunday, July 16, 2023 | 2pm and 7pm
Doors open at 1:30pm and 6:30pm


Called a “trio of modern Marx Brothers” by The Boston Herald and “intellectual vaudeville” by The New York Times, The Reduced Shakespeare Company (RSC) is a touring American comedy troupe that performs fast-paced, seemingly improvisational condensations of huge topics. They hold the record for the longest running comedies in the history of London’s West End, as three of its shows ran in repertory at the Criterion Theatre in Piccadilly Circus for almost 10 years. Known as the “Bad Boys of Abridgment,” the RSC has performed at the White House, Lincoln Center, Off-Broadway, the Kennedy Center, and Montreal’s famed Just for Laughs Festival, as well as touring the UK, Belgium, The Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, Singapore, Barbados, Bermuda, Israel, Qatar, and Ireland. The Reduced Shakespeare Company is heard frequently on both NPR and the BBC.

Since its pass-the-hat origins in 1981, the RSC has created 10 world-renowned stage shows, two television specials, several failed TV pilots, and numerous radio pieces, all of which have been performed, seen, and heard the world over. The company’s itinerary has included stops off-Broadway, at the White House, the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, London’s West End, Seattle Repertory Theatre, American Repertory Theatre and Montreal’s famed Just for Laughs Festival, as well as performances in Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Japan, Malta, Singapore and Bermuda, plus countless civic and university venues throughout the USA, the UK, and Europe.

The company’s first three shows — The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), The Complete History of America (abridged) and The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged) — ran for over nine years at the Criterion Theatre in Piccadilly Circus. They were London’s longest-running comedies, and the RSC had more shows running in the West End than Andrew Lloyd Webber. They were also funnier.

The company’s 11th and brand-new stage show — Hamlet’s Big Adventure! (a prequel) — had its international premiere at the London in Tel Aviv Festival in 2019 and its American premiere in 2022. In 2016, in honor of the company’s 35th anniversary and the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, the RSC premiered its 10th stage show, William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (abridged), at the Folger Shakespeare Theatre in Washington DC. In 2013, the “Bad Boys of Abridgment” unveiled The Complete History of Comedy (abridged) to critical and commercial acclaim at both Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and Merrimack Repertory Theatre, as well as on national tours of the USA and UK. The Complete World of Sports (abridged) opened in 2010 at Merrimack Rep and, after touring the USA and UK, ran at the Arts Theatre in London during the 2012 London Olympics. In 2011 came the world premiere of The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged), which became Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s best-selling holiday show ever and the third-best-selling show in MRT’s history. It also enjoyed a successful run at San Diego Repertory Theatre as well as multiple tours across the USA.

The RSC applied its fast, funny and physical approach to world history in Western Civilization: The Complete Musical (abridged), which toured simultaneously in the US, UK and Australia, and condensed literature into a 90-minute roller-coaster ride in All the Great Books (abridged), which has played to great acclaim at the Kennedy Center, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, San Diego Repertory Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Seattle’s ACT Theatre, and Alabama Shakespeare Festival, as well as Great Britain, Holland, Ireland, and Sweden (in Swedish!). They skewered the 186 greatest movies of all time in Completely Hollywood (abridged), which has received critical kudos across the US and UK, as well as Belgium, Holland, Hong Kong, and Barbados.

For TV, the RSC compressed the first five seasons of Lost into a 10-minute film called Lost Reduced and was a Jeopardy! category in the 2005 and 2006 Tournaments of Champions. They wrote and starred in The Ring Reduced, a half-hour version of Wagner’s Ring Cycle for Channel 4 (UK), and reduced the Edinburgh Festival for BBC and the soap opera Glenroe for RTE Ireland. Shakespeare (abridged) aired on PBS and is available on DVD, as is America (abridged). For National Public Radio, the RSC has been heard on All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Talk of the Nation, Day to Day, West Coast Live, and To the Best of Our Knowledge. The BBC World Service commissioned the six-part Reduced Shakespeare Radio Show. The Reduced Shakespeare Company Christmas was heard on Public Radio International.

The RSC won the prestigious Shorty Award in New York City and the Delft Audience Award in Holland. They’ve also been nominated for an Olivier Award in London, two Helen Hayes Awards in Washington, DC, the SF Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award, and several podcast awards.

RSC scripts are published in the US and UK, and translated into over a dozen languages. The RSC Radio Show, RSC Christmas, and Bible (abridged) are all available on CD or iTunes. On April 23, 2014, the company set a Guinness World Record™ for the Highest Theatrical Performance at 37,000 feet aboard an EasyJet flight from London to Verona. The RSC also creates unique entertainments for corporate events, working with such companies as Sky-TV, Time magazine, Motorola, and Rotary International.

Pop-Up Shakespeare (illustrated by Jennie Maizels) was published in 2017 by Candlewick Press in the US and Walker Books in the UK and Australia. Hyperion published their irreverent reference book Reduced Shakespeare: The Complete Guide for the Attention-Impaired (abridged). The company established its own imprint, Reduced Books, to publish the comic memoir How the Bible Changed Our Lives (Mostly for The Better) in all e-book formats. And the RSC Podcast, a free 20-minute audio glimpse of life backstage and on the road, and the world’s longest-running theatre podcast, is available every week at reducedshakespeare.com and wherever you get your podcasts.


WARNING! Side-effects may include uncontrollable milking and painful running gags.

“Critic’s Pick! Fast and furious…fresh and funny…a great piece of political satire.” —Cincinnati City Beat

“I don’t want to get too philosophical here. Just know that you’ll laugh. Not at everything, mind you. Some of the material may make you uncomfortable. It’s supposed to. Mostly, though, you will laugh. Really hard. And smile so hard that — yes, it’s a cliché, but it’s true — your cheeks will hurt. When was the last time you went to the theater and had that sensation?” —Cincinnati Enquirer

“Easily one of the troupe’s funniest, most inspired shows in years!” —Pacific Sun

“It’s a show about wit. About quick minds. About what makes us laugh. And what’s fair game for laughter.” —Cincinnati Enquirer

“Spectacular! (A) terrific rapid-fire, laugh-out-loud performance! A laugh-riot!” —Nashua Telegraph

“These guys are truly adept jokesters, physical shtick, wordplay, music, improv — they can do it all.” —Cincinnati City Beat

“The Bad Boys of Abridgment are back and better than ever! A non-stop, two-hour laugh fest!” —Lowell Sun

“A wild, wild ride! It’s funny. Really, really funny…And most of all, it’s really, really smart.” —Cincinnati Enquirer

“A dizzying night’s entertainment…the work of some serious minds exploring the art of comedy.” —Cincinnati City Beat

“You knew they’d get this one right. The Complete History of Comedy (abridged) is a madcap, breakneck-speed two hours. Audacious, often outrageous and bawdy, the frantic pacing of Comedy reminds you of an old-time burlesque or vaudeville revue.” —Boston Stages

“The Reduced Shakespeare Company are exhaustingly hilarious. And the scope of their humor knows no bounds.” —Cincinnati Enquirer

“My cheeks still hurt from laughing so much. Way too funny.” —Napa Valley Register

The Complete History of Comedy (abridged) is a master class in the artform.“ —Broadway World

“Wonderful, whimsical. The wit, verve and creativity they manage to squeeze into (the show) are a winning formula that is anything but formulaic.” —Fairfield Daily Republic

“It’s always laugh out-loud funny.” —Napa Valley Register

Read the full Cincinnati Enquirer review here

Read the full Cincinnati City Beat review here


July 16, 2023
2:00 pm
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