Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Tuesday, April 16, 2024
The Observer

Very Important People Web Graphic

‘Very Important People’ is very nearly perfect

Usually we at The Observer wait until the first season of a new show finishes in full to publish a review. “Very Important People” is too good to hold back. 

Dropout is an independent subscription streaming service that hosts and produces entirely original, unscripted comedy content. You’ve probably seen the TikToks and YouTube Shorts from shows like “Game Changer,” “Make Some Noise,” “Dirty Laundry” and the platform’s flagship actual-play tabletop show, “Dimension 20.” Their newest venture, “Very Important People,” has only released three episodes, and it’s already one of my favorites from the company. 

“Very Important People” is a retooled reboot of the CollegeHumor Original show “Hello My Name Is,” in which cast member Josh Ruben would spontaneously create a character to be interviewed based entirely on the makeup put on him minutes before the shoot. “VIP” switches up the formula, keeping a constant host and putting the weekly special guest in makeup, hair, prosthetics and costumes. The guest doesn’t see any part of the look until the final reveal at the very end, and their interview is entirely improvised based on the character they came up with. 

“Very Important People” works, fundamentally, because of host Vic Michaelis. They ground every episode as the comedic “straight man” with their dry, deadpan persona and their ability to keep a straight face regardless of who (or what) is sitting across from them. Their approach to each interview is somewhere between investigative journalist, late night host, cross-examining prosecutor and exasperated babysitter. Michaelis knows exactly what tone to strike with every character, exactly how to pursue the right line of questioning and exactly when to push the guest’s buttons. They’re impeccable, quietly hilarious and smooth as butter. 

As with many Dropout originals, much of the show’s genius lies in the nitty-gritty of this production. This is especially true for “Very Important People”: The makeup and costume departments are fundamental to the premise, and it's their hard work that makes the show tick. 

Show director Tamar Levine and makeup department head Alex Perrone host short “Last Look” talkbacks released after each episode, describing the creative process that went into bringing each character to life. They also reveal details as to the production of the show, such as the lengths they go to ensure that the actors aren’t spoiled for their final looks — including tricks like using the wrong end of a makeup brush or loudly discussing where to place hypothetical horns. They also discuss how they film the in-episode video segments, cued perfectly by Michaelis for “out-of-studio” glimpses into the guest’s life and work and shot after the episode on a green screen. 

The three episodes out now star Anna Garcia, Ify Nwadiwe and Lisa Gilroy — all phenomenal comedians in their own right who have appeared on other Dropout shows within the past year. All three shine in their respective episodes as a Europop princess, a movie-watching alien and “Vic’s ex-step-grandmother,” respectively. It’s impossible at this point to choose a standout. The formula of the show lets each comedian showcase exactly what they’re good at and spotlights their particular talents as improvisers. 

Ultimately, “Very Important People” strips improv comedy down to its bare basics: two characters having a conversation, each building on what the other says, creating a world based on a simple prompt. The show’s success is in its extraordinarily well-thought out production and bulletproof execution. You’d be hard-pressed to find a show so delightful throughout, from concept to cast to creation to product. 

Is it too soon to ask for a season two?