THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE ALGORITHM at Boom Chicago in Amsterdam

The première for a buzzing new show from BOOM Chicago did not disappoint, in fact it was better than expected.

In the preamble, Andrew Moskos – one of BOOM’s founders – reminded us of the importance of making fun of computers and their failings: “In the dress rehearsal the chat GPT went down… worldwide… let’s see how it goes tonight.”  A playful reminder to not be too dependent on those online assistance bots and apps. Like planning a whole show around it… Whilst, seriously, Moskos  wondered aloud at the current situation, where technology is proceeding unhindered by regulations or protocols. The show itself took a holistic approach: looking back through a fantastic range of both scripted and improv scenes, looking now – in some brilliantly played, suitably uncomfortable and embarrassing audience participation moments – and forward to the possibilities that algorithms (AI and Chat GPT in particular) can and might do for us… or to us.

The show demands you join in; as the name suggests, they need your data – a quick QR code scan invites you to share your public facing social media profiles. As I filled this in, like others in the audience, I began to imagine the way it would be perceived and how it could be made fun of. I confess this did leave me with an uneasy feeling. Yet it only helped to add a delicious sense of awkward anticipation, and a shared sort of guilty pleasure and joyful relief when, in the show, my accounts and details were not used.

The performers each had their own merits and far too many to be able to list in a modest review: Erin Island – though she be little, she be fiercely funny; Andrew McCammon – versatile, playful and utterly silly; Matt Castellvi – Chicago born comedian who left me wanting more (I have determined to see this guy again – on stage, honestly it’s OK, I am not stalking his Instagram account); Katie Nixon – unpredictable, talented, smart, dynamic; Raquel Palmas – yes yes yes! This comedian rocked it and it was clear she loved what she was doing and we loved her for it. Not forgetting the duo that enabled it all to deliver with expert timing and punch: the musical magical touch of Sacha Hoedemaker and Emil Struijker-Boudier, the tech wisecrack; both are very much an integral part of the playfulness of the show, even joining in on some improv gags.  

Altogether, The comedy was pacy, bright and sparky, quick thinking, sometimes raw and confronting – though in a good way – mixed and dangerous and delightful; like a box of fireworks, it went off. And it is not often that I write that.

Is this a really funny show about tech? Yes. Is it a hysterically funny show about right now? Yes.

As Moskos suggested in his opening speech: they know they can’t change the world or the charging forth of tech companies with one show. But by being together, in that room, for an evening, not looking at our phones, the show had – in a sense – made itself part of the solution. 


  Rose Fawbert Mills   5th May 2024

Photo by Jelle Draper