‘Mister Roger’s’ spoof to hold in-person debut at Bird City Comedy Festival

Stand-up comedian Chris Bennett is bringing his colorful cast of puppets to the Bird City Comedy Festival on Thursday. (Nicholas Serpa/DD)

What happens when you put together puppets, “shirtless Ted Cruz” and two Arizona State University alumni?

“Mister Chris’s Apartment Show,” a new show to be streamed from Facebook Live, will answer that question at its in-person debut at Stand Up Live during the Bird City Comedy Festival on Thursday.

The show considers itself to be a comedic take on “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood,” and uses eccentric puppets and the main character, Mister Chris, to teach life lessons that the characters “neglected to learn in childhood.”

The show was produced and created by stand-up comedian Chris Bennett and Emmy award-winning producer Ryan McKee. While the show may not have flashy sets or a massive budget, it includes: puppets, green-screen action and a unique platform, thanks to Facebook Live.

It’s described on the Bird City website as “Wayne’s World mixed with Adult Swim mixed with Mister Rogers mixed with Vodka.” Bennett said the idea for this satirical program came from wanting to create a kids show for adults.

“We were like, ‘What if Mr. Rogers’ life was falling apart?’” Bennett said.

The show began airing in late January, and new episodes are out every Wednesday at 9 p.m. Old episodes can be found on their Facebook page.

Previously, Bennett has performed around the Valley, Los Angeles and even made an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”

The show is normally streamed via Facebook Live from Bennett’s real-life apartment in Los Angeles. McKee, who also works on The Late Late Show with James Corden, produces the show alongside a small crew. He said the show is a great fit for Bennett and his abilities.

“It’s really geared towards Chris’s personality of just being a big child,” McKee said. “He’s so talented and so charismatic on stage.”

Bennett plays the main character, a non-puppet character named “Mister Chris” (who occasionally transforms into “Shirtless Ted Cruz”); he also voices all of the show’s various puppets.

“Part of the charm of the show is all of the crazy mistakes that are built in,” he said. “We have a nice core of fans, but we’re still in the early stages. We’re hoping that this show will build that.”

McKee and Bennett met in the Phoenix comedy scene during their post-college years. They both ended up moving out to Los Angeles around the same time and eventually decided to work together. McKee said he was excited to work with Bennett.

“I’ve always been curious to try to find a way to take what [Bennett] does on stage and turn it into some kind of production that I could work on with him,” he said.

Bringing the show to Phoenix for the first time is a homecoming of sorts, Bennett said.

“What better place to do the show for the first time in front of a live audience then the place where everything started?” he said.

“Mister Chris’s Apartment Show” is the duo’s second show together, after experimenting with a talk show format in “The Chris and Leah Show” last year. It’s their first attempt at bringing a show to Facebook Live. It’s an interesting platform for an episodic show, McKee explained.

“With Facebook Live, it’s great because it’s as close as you can get to having a live show online,” McKee said. “I think it definitely has potential. I wouldn’t be working on it if I didn’t.”

“Mister Chris’s Apartment Show” will be make its Phoenix debut on Thursday, April 9 at 8 p.m. at Stand Up Live in downtown Phoenix. The Bird City Comedy Festival runs from Thursday to Sunday, April 6. Tickets for the show and the festival can be purchased online.

Contact the reporter at Nicholas.Serpa@asu.edu.