It may have been a once in a lifetime chance to see Ed Helms as Bruce Willis, Mindy Kaling as Lil Wayne, Rashida Jones as a dinosaur and John Cho as a senile panda, but four lucky kids and a small audience got to witness the absurdity at the 10th annual Young Storytellers Foundation “Biggest Show” on Oct. 12.
The Young Storytellers Foundation is an LA-based volunteer initiative that provides hundreds of local students with mentorship as they write their own short screenplay. Every year at the “Biggest Show,” held this year at LA’s New Roads School, a few children get to see their scripts played out by celebrities, who are given only a few minutes to study their lines before taking the stage.
Org’s co-founder Andrew Barrett spoke about its beginning and the first talks of the idea with the other two co-founders, Mikkel Bondesen and Brad Falchuk.
“Brad said, ‘Every kid that walks through that door is brilliant,’” Barrett told the audience. “And that became our mantra. They know how to do this. It’s already done, and they’re brilliant.”
Comedians and brothers Randy and Jason Sklar hosted the evening and grilled the actors about their special talents, as the four screenwriters would later assign them roles in the script to perform. Kaling included a unique talent when explaining her skills.
“I’m great at blood-curdling screams of terror, if you need someone to be scared,” she said.
“Do you practice that? Is there an appropriate place, like The Grove?” Randy asked, alluding to the popular outdoor LA mall. “Is that a good place to practice?”
“They do not appreciate it,” she replied. “I’ve learned from experience not to do it that much.”
Cho mentioned that he’s great at fake tap dancing, and demonstrated by shuffling along the stage, and Randy mentioned that he might be great at another type of role as well.
“I feel like you could play an authority character as well, am I right?” Randy suggested. “You could play an authority figure, and at the same time you could do a children’s-“
“Shut up!” Cho interrupted Randy, proving him right.
The first sketch had Cho and Max Greenfield as “King Strawberry Gummy45” and “Queen Hard Candy44,” and Kaling as a superhero version of the play’s author. Kaling, whose character was subjected to quicksand mixed with dinosaur feces, writhed on the ground to simulate the experience and also encountered an old witch, played by Helms.
“Oh child, I won’t hurt you, with your fabulous style!” Helms said, going for an old woman’s voice.
In another play that had many of the actors straining to keep from laughing, Helms played Bruce Willis, who was nervous that Lil Wayne, played by Kaling, was becoming the town hunk.
“Bruce, what’s up?” Kaling said, attempting to imitate Weezy. “I saw your new movie. It wasn’t very good. You should try to be a better actor!”
In response, Helms had to take a beat before saying his line, as Kaling’s impersonation made him laugh, despite his better efforts not to.
All of the child scribes got to sit on the stage, and received a standing ovation at the end of the show.