“Thrive IRL” begins with an ’80s aerobics-style pump-up vignette. Nameless Numberhead, the comedic duo (Maari Suorsa and Henry Riggs) out of Charleston, SC responsible for this Fringe production, burst onto the scene from behind a paint-spattered curtain blazoned with the image of a smart phone. They promise to help the audience find meaning in the meaningless — to thrive in real life (IRL). From there, the take a deep dive into a series of sketches, tied (sometimes loosely) to the thread of communication in a world governed by social media algorithms.
This could easily be a show that picks all low-hanging fruit, and the result would be inoffensive, funny, but forgettable. Nameless Numberhead is not that kind of duo, though. When they do go after easy targets (like Millennials), they drop the punchline like a bomb, intentionally lampshading themselves in the process.
At its best, “Thrive IRL” is patently ridiculous. One sketch consisted of little more than the two performers blowing out a seemingly endless supply of candles. This scene proved too much for one audience member, sparking a highly contagious, seven-minute giggle, and I don’t even think I’m exaggerating. Other highlights included jabs at craft beer enthusiasts and homemade wedding vows.
Above all, “Thrive IRL” showcases incredible versatility. This is a two-person variety show. While sketches comprise the majority of the production, there are also song-and-dance numbers and even a semi-serious but somehow also farcical monologue, featuring a looped soundtrack made on the spot and a series of poetic statements on the meanings of the words, “This,” “Is” and “I.”
“Thrive IRL” is an ambitious show for such a small team, but they absolutely pull it off. The sketches show sharp wit, the songs are unnervingly catchy, and their performance are full of impeccable timing. This is definitely a show worth putting on your Fringe list this year.
Zach Moning is the communications manager at ArtsWave. Reach him here with questions or comments about ArtsWave Guide.