If you're ever in Vegas, looking for entertainment...

... think at least twice before you see the Blue Man Group.

I hereby submit some of the worst money I've ever spent on entertainment:

First of all, this show is expensive. It's going to cost you $75 per person for an obstructed view. That's sort of in line with other shows in Vegas, perhaps a bit pricier. But that brings me to my second point:

It's not comparable to other shows in Vegas.

You're going to have a better time going to a movie theater. You don't even have to check what movie is playing. If you're in Vegas, just buy tickets to any movie playing at Rave Motion Pictures Town Square, and you're going to have a better time. Guaranteed. Unless the movie is Jack & Jill. And perhaps even then, maybe.

If you don't feel compelled to see Blue Man Group:
  • You could use the same money to see ten movies with your mate.
  • You could have a more than delicious dinner for two at Sushi Samba.
  • You could take your significant other to Spearmint Rhino, and have 5 lap dances, each.
  • You could bet it all on roulette and maybe double your money. Even if you lose, you still win - by not having to endure the Blue Man Group.
All of these would be better uses for $250.

Let me put it yet another way:
  • I've seen the Penn & Teller show in Rio twice. If someone gave me tickets, I would go see it again. Penn & Teller are genius.
  • I've seen Mystère at TI. If someone gave me tickets, I would go see it again. Mystère is a showcase of human athleticism in performance.
  • I've seen Zumanity at New York, New York. If someone gave me tickets, I would go see it again. It's trashy and crude and not as good as Mystère; but hey, free show.
  • If someone gave me tickets to Blue Man Group, I would bail.
  • In fact, if someone paid me $100 to see Blue Man group again, I would bail.
  • I would maybe see Blue Man Group again for $1,000. But I'm not sure about that.

If you do feel compelled to see the Blue Man Group, then let me go ahead and tell you what you're going to witness.
  • You're going to see 3 guys wearing blue latex pretend they're stupid while beating melodies on cheap plastic pipe instruments, usually accompanied with a rock band.
  • The most sophisticated talent you're going to see in the entire performance will be a guy catching thrown marshmallows with his mouth. He catches approximately 75%, and attempts to play it off when he doesn't.
  • The music isn't that good, and the performance isn't impressive.
  • There are no feats of athleticism that you might see in Cirque du Soleil.
  • There are no impressive sleights of hand, nor witty comedy you might expect from Penn & Teller. The performers don't attempt any difficult tricks. What they do attempt is cheap and easy, and they are slightly clumsy. They don't speak.
  • Not most, but all of the comedy comes from the blue guys looking at everything like they're stupid, attempting to imitate autism on stage.
  • While there are laughs to be had from silent comedy based on actions and movements, this show doesn't provide many. To be fun to watch, performers would have to be fast, precise, and unpredictable. But they're slow, clumsy and boring.
  • For most of the show, you're going to sit there and expect that whatever is going on - for example, blue guys strutting around, peering absentmindedly into the audience - is a clever setup for some gag. Time after time, it will peter out and transform into something unrelated, but stupid.
  • Parts of the show are dominated by uncomfortably bright strobe lights that make it painful to keep your eyes open. The good part is that not much is happening, so you don't have to watch.
  • The grand finale of the show consists of extremely long rolls of white toilet paper being unrolled from the ceiling onto the audience in the back. The audience is expected to pass the bulky unrolled toilet paper onto the people in front of them, who continue to pass it on until all of the toilet paper is picked up from the front row. There is no point to it, and it's not a setup for a gag. The gag is that you're helping convey unrolled toilet paper.

We did observe that some people enjoyed the show. Their enthusiasm escalated markedly after the final act of passing toilet paper down the rows.

We think you're going to enjoy this show if you're the following type of person:
  • You enjoy people pretending to be stupid, and silently looking dumb.
  • You have a strong crowd instinct, so that any group activity, such as passing toilet paper over your head, makes you happy.
  • You enter the theater while drunk or stoned.

Which brings me to...

This is probably the first show ever where I was compelled to go back to the ticket box to complain about the quality of the show. It went something like this - from memory:

Me:Well... I just got out of this performance, and I have to say that... "disappointed"... would be an understatement.
Salesman:I'm sorry to hear that.
Me:I understand you don't offer refunds for people who want to change tickets or miss the show, but - I'm wondering if you offer refunds in case of complaints about the quality of the show. Such as, the show being really, really bad.
Salesman:We don't offer any such refunds, no. Can I see your tickets?
Me:Here you go.
Salesman:If you just saw this show, why do your tickets still have the stubs?
Me:They just scanned them. The bar code here. They didn't take the stubs.
Salesman:Oh, I see.
Me:So, are there any refunds for people who are very disappointed with the show?
Salesman:Did you stay in the theater until the end?
Me:Sigh... Yes. I kept hoping it would get better. But it only got worse.
Salesman:Well, since you saw the show in its entirety, we can't give you a refund, no.
Me:I see. You know - I don't even want a refund to save money. It's to make a point. This show is so bad - you should put a warning on it.

And so went my $250.

Why is Blue Man Group so bad?

Blue Man Group shows every sign of being a corporate show: built to make money first, and entertain second, rather than than the other way around.

Can you name anyone whose reputation is tied to whether this is a good show?

I can't think of a single person. Performers are intentionally anonymous. The blue latex makes the three main performers indistinguishable from replacements. Their roles are designed to not require special talents or abilities - athletic or otherwise. The main roles of the show are designed for performers who are easily replaceable; just the opposite of superstars, who are expensive, talented, and irreplaceable.

The background of the show consists of one or two dozen musicians, who have even less identity, and are even more expendable. The stage is cheap. The props consist of paint, marshmallows, and lots of recycled paper.

This show is built like a Toyota. It's reliable, it's reproducible, and it consists of cheap parts. It's not inspired; it's not stunning.

And that's fine. It's okay to be cheap, reliable, and reproducible, if you're passing the savings to the consumer. I.e., you would expect the tickets to be $10.

What you don't expect is to see a show like this, and pay for it like it's the pinnacle of entertainment, in one of the best known hotels in a city renowned for its entertainment.

The Blue Man Group, as presented at the Venetian, is like a regular Big Mac, produced by regular minimum wage employees, served in a regular fast food environment, stiff chairs and plastic trays and all; but sold at the price of a gourmet Kobe Beef steak in a high-end restaurant.

The only quality this show has is that it's profitable - at the expense of guests who expect that a $100 show at the Venetian might actually contain something worth seeing.


T said…
I'm glad I didn't go to this show while I was in Vegas earlier this year.

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