Vilification Tennis Takes on the War on Christmas

Yule Regret This: The Vilification Tennis War on Christmas, the insult-battle group’s November 26 holiday special at the Bryant-Lake Bowl, was disturbingly comical. If you haven’t heard of Vilification Tennis—who have appeared at CONvergence, Transvestite Soup’s Rocky Horror Picture Show, and other events in addition to their own dedicated performances—you owe it yourself to catch one of their shows. Their usual fare is not the family-friendly version you may have seen at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival.

At Yule Regret This, we had everything from the beloved insult tennis match to holiday games, stories, and caroling. And nudity; I must not forget nudity. Yes, they crossed every line they possibly could, jumped back, and crossed them again. VilTen specializes in improvisational battle of insults and even when they fuck up, it’s hilarious.

Bryant Lake Bowl Theatre with tables and stadium-style seating.

The Bryant-Lake Bowl theater, with tables and stadium-style seating.

The Vilification Tennis War on Christmas took place in the apartment of Jeff Neppl, who hosts the show. He is having a holiday party and waiting on his guests to arrive. Meanwhile his roommate/friend/hobo off the street, Chad Dutton, got us in the holiday spirit with some music on his keyboard.

Jeff's first guest, Eric Knight, arrives to start the insult tennis match.

Jeff’s first guest, Eric Knight, arrives to start the insult tennis match.

Eric Knight was the first to enter, followed by three others, and they wasted no time jumping straight to the “Your mama” and “You’re so dumb” insults. There were no rules that I could tell; they just kept the insults going between the two teams until someone screwed up or there was an awe-inspiring insult that resulted in a point. Insults ranged from fat jokes to sexual inadequacies and race. Nothing was off limits.

Taking a break from insults, the vilifiers participated in a couple holiday game competitions, including decorating the Christmas tree while blindfolded and wrapping a present with someone else’s arms.

Greg Parks and Jena Young wrapping a present for Yule Regret This: The Vilification Tennis War On Christmas

Greg Parks and Jena Young wrapping a present.


Duck Washington and Salsa wrapping a present for Yule Regret This: Vilification Tennis War On Christmas

Duck Washington’s and Salsa’s effort.

Patrick Bauer enlightened the audience with his stand-up comedy performance. His most memorable joke (for me) was about a sign-language-capable gorilla arguing with a deaf creationist.

And what would Christmas be without caroling? The event description warned, “Those who are easily offended will be. Those who aren’t easily offended will be.” I’m in the second group, and the Christmas carols in this show definitely made me say “Holy shit. They went there.” We were blessed with such tunes as “Sticky White Cum” (sung to the tune of “Little Drummer Boy”), and they even took their carols to politics with “Obamacare” (sung to “O Christmas Tree”) and “Donald Trump Has Got to Go Down” (“Santa Claus is Coming to Town”). And let us not leave out the take on Pokémon GO! We got a little taste of “Winter Wonderland” trudging ’round to find a Pokémon.

No Christmas is complete without a holiday story, and we got the collaborative story of Brexit and fruitcake. And a Naughty or Nice version of truth or dare subjected us to the sight of the vilifiers not only groping each other but also seeing Eric’s bare tush. Molly Glover rewarded the audience with flashes of her midsection throughout the show.

Finally, I cannot end this review without mentioning Duck Washington’s amazing Christmas sweater, which had Jesus and a dinosaur battling with lightsabers. I’m kicking myself for not getting a picture!

Vilifiers line up for a game of Naughty or Nice

Vilifiers line up for a game of Naughty or Nice. Spoiler: they are all naughty regardless of what they say. Right to left are Chad Dutton, Jeff Neppl, Nick Glover, Molly Glover, Eric Knight, Spencer Faust, Jena Young, Patrick Bauer, Salsa, Gregory Parks, and Duck Washington.

My only regret was not figuring out the parking situation prior to the show. I had never been to the Bryant-Lake Bowl before, so I was caught off-guard by the lack of street parking available. Once inside, however, the venue was a cool place to experience a show. There is a bar as well as the bowling alley, which reminds me of the one in my small hometown; tucked away past the lanes is the quaint theater with seating at tables. They offer the full menu inside the theater, which was a bonus.

One thing I have noticed is how small the Twin Cities theater community really is. I’m enjoying seeing some of the same actors all across the Twin Cities performing in a variety of role styles—two vilifiers from this show, Gregory Parks and Jena Young, were also part of the Human Combat Chess All Star Game I reviewed earlier this year.

Yule Regret This was a one-night performance, but you can catch all the inappropriateness of one of Vilification Tennis’s other upcoming shows at the Bryant-Lake Bowl:

  • December 30, 2016: Fuck 2016 (the year-in-review show)
  • January 20, 2017: Goodbye, Cruel World: Here Lies Vilification Tennis on
  • February 24, 2017: The Amateur Show (live auditions for hopefuls)
  • March 24, 2017: The Vilification Tennis Musical

You can learn more at the recently revamped or follow the group on Facebook.


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