A Very Die Hard Christmas brings bloodshed, gun fights, and puppets to Bryant-Lake Bowl
Admit it: Most Christmas movies are bullshit.
They're all focused on "love" and "togetherness," but they lack some of the most important elements of any holiday classic, like explosions and bloodshed. That is, ALMOST all Christmas movies.
Die Hard has cemented itself as the most badass of all Christmas movies, and this December you can see John McClane kicking serious terrorist ass with extreme yuletide prejudice at Bryant-Lake Bowl for the second annual performance of A Very Die Hard Christmas.
This week, we sat down with Josh Carson, the man sporting the iconic tank top, to learn more about the show, his love of Bruce Willis, and the time Minneapolis CSI almost shut him down.
A Very Die Hard Christmas is the story of Die Hard retold as a beloved Christmas special, complete with songs, puppets, and bloodshed. It's a raucous, giddy salute to the original movie, as well as virtually every Christmas special you can remember. Last year was our first year performing with only five nights. We ended up selling out four, and were booked to come back the next December the night we closed.
By the end of the movie, John McClane is shirtless and covered in blood, so I have to be as well. In order to achieve that, I run into the parking lot and essentially have a bucket of fake blood poured onto myself. I spin around to quickly dry the blood so I don't create too much of a mess. It works, but it always looks like a horrible massacre happened in the parking lot.
The morning after one of our shows, two cooks went to take a break in the back parking lot only to find it taped off with crime-scene tape and a cavalcade of police offers, including the Minneapolis CSI team. Evidently, some passing police officers assumed something horrible occurred in the blood-spattered back alley. When they found out about the show, they quietly left. But not before grabbing a postcard to see when it was.
What made you decide to create a production based on Die Hard?
For years, my answer to "What's your favorite Christmas movie?" has always been Die Hard. This would inevitably lead to an ongoing debate about whether or not Die Hard was a Christmas movie. Aside from being the defining action movie that would change all action movies, it also contains every Christmas movie trope you can name. A regular guy trying to get home for Christmas? Check. Slithery bad guy who wants to steal people's Christmas? Check. Christmas miracles? You lose count of how many of those happen.
To cement that point, we "recast" some characters of the original Die Hard with some classic Christmas characters. The Burl Ives snowman is now Al, John's only friend on the outside. Jimmy Stewart and Hermey the Dentist Elf are among the terrorist team. Bing Crosby is an unscrupulous reporter that'll get the story no matter what.
As the years went on, I would find people who also shared those thoughts [that Die Hard is a Christmas film], and would watch the movie every year. Why not get all those people in the same room to watch the show at the same time in a theater that serves beer? That's a party I want to attend. Both production companies, Mainly Me Productions (my company) and Dana's Boys specialize in pop-culture-related shows, as well as creating the types of shows that attract audiences that don't usually seek out theater. This is the kind of Christmas show we'd want to attend. Also, this was going to be my only chance to be John McClane for real... kind of. I had to jump all over that.
Give us a ballpark number of how many times have you watched Die Hard?
I don't know that there's a number high enough. It's one of those movies that should you stumble across it on TV, you stop and watch. And it was a long-standing holiday tradition in my house growing up.
If someone has never seen the movie, are they going to understand the show?
Absolutely. It's a very faithful adaptation of the story of Die Hard -- and a part of the reason why this movie is such a classic is there is a story to tell. Granted, this is a Muppet Movie presentation of the story with McClane serving as the Kermit/straight man of the show, but we take it seriously. There are inside jokes about the movie as well as the franchise, but there are countless other Christmas classics that get skewered as well. And I happen to know for a fact that this production has inspired first-timers to seek out Die Hard on their own after seeing the show.
Where do you rank Die Hard in terms of the all time best holiday stories?
It is the best holiday story. And here's the clincher that wins the argument every time: If a story about an individual violently fighting off a team of bad guys attempting a high-profile robbery isn't Christmas movie material, then what's Home Alone? Game. Set. Match.
IF YOU GO:
A Very Die Hard Christmas
Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater
December 13-15; 20-22
10 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 9 p.m. Sunday
More details here