CREDIT: Jeffery Neira/Netflix

I watched the new Middleditch & Schwartz improv specials on Netflix recently, and I decided to collect my thoughts on them in the form of the question-and-answer information-gathering segment that typically kicks off a long-form improv session.

Is there anyone here who did anything interesting the past few weeks?
I watched some improv specials on Netflix!

Okay, I think I heard someone say they watched improv?
Yeah. On Netflix.

Okay, so it was on a major streaming service. Who was doing the improv-ing?
Thomas Middleditch and Ben Schwartz. They seem like good buddies as far as I can tell. You could tell that they really trusted each other.

Was there any reason in particular why you were watching these when you did?
It was during a global pandemic, so I had more free time than usual-

A global pandemic?! Thank you for that information…
Yeah. I’ve watched other improv specials during non-emergency times as well, so that wasn’t the only reason. But it was easier to fit it into my schedule.

Your “schedule”?
Yeah, my TV viewing schedule. There’s certain shows that I watch every week, and when a new special is released, especially when it’s streaming, I have to figure out when I can make time to actually watch it.

So watching TV is like a job for you?
Kind of. It’s a calling, really.

Okay, so were there any other interesting characters involved in this improv scene?
There were all the people that Ben and Thomas created on the spot based on the members of the audience that they talked to. It’s the magic of long-form improv, and they make it look seamless. Although sometimes they comment on the process, which you might think would make it not seamless, but it fits with their own m.o. Based on how much I was laughing, those were often the funniest parts.

All right, I think that’s plenty of information. Anything else you want to share with us?
The third of the specials, “Dream Job,” is easily the funniest. It’s about a couple of friends who are both trying to get photography internships at a vaunted comedy institution. Thomas and Ben avoid saying the name of the institution while they’re performing, whether for copyright or slander reasons or something like that. Whatever the exact reason, it slays, because the workarounds they come up with are comedy gold. Anyway, a big part of the fun is these two guys conjuring a cast of about 7-10 characters per scene and trying to keep everyone straight. In the first two specials, they pull that off with nary a hitch, but in “Dream Job,” their psyches begin to rip apart. The main characters’ motivations start switching, and they enter into a body swap scenario. Thomas and Ben are on the brink of disaster, and it’s that hint (or really, it’s much more than just a hint) of danger, that really fuels the whole enterprise.