Thrilling Adventure Hour

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Thrilling Adventure Hour (August 2011) L-R: Josh Malina, Busy Philipps, Marc Evan Jackson, Linda Cardellini, Nathan Fillion, & Mark Gagliardi

The Thrilling Adventure Hour is a staged production in the style of old time radio that is held monthly at the Coronet Theatre. The show has been running since March 2005.[1] It is live audio theater. Each episode features three non-serialized segments as well as songs and commercials from fictional sponsors. The show is written by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker and directed by Aaron Ginsburg. The show's original songs are written by Acker & Blacker with composer and band leader Andy Paley.


The roots of the Thrilling Adventure Hour began in Ben Blacker's living room where Ben Acker and Ben Blacker held a reading of their film script for a space western called Sparks Nevada, Marshal on Mars. Struck by the quality of the performances, Acker and Blacker decided to launch a stage show with a radio conceit, so that the performers had the luxury of holding scripts in their hands and minimal blocking. The conceit allowed for Acker and Blacker to not impose too greatly on their actor friends, while maintaining a regular deadline for generating material, honing their craft and workshopping content in front of an audience.[2]

The Thrilling Adventure and Supernatural Suspense Hour began a five-year run at M Bar in Hollywood in March 2005. The original WorkJuice Players were Dave (Gruber) Allen, Paget Brewster, Craig Cackowski, Mark Gagliardi, Marc Evan Jackson, Hal Lublin, Annie Savage and Paul F Tompkins. In episode six, Eban Schletter performed live musical accompaniment. Schletter wrote the theme song to "Sparks Nevada, Marshal on Mars". In episode seven, the show was joined by Andy Paley. Acker & Blacker and Paley created musical content for the show. Paley arranged Schletter's Sparks Nevada theme and performed themes and songs with his Andy Paley Orchestra, which, at the time, consisted of Jillinda Palmer, Ben Jaffe and Brittney Westover.

In episode eight, the show was joined by Joel Spence, a Foley artist and actor. Soon thereafter, Aaron Ginsburg joined as director. Shortly after that, Samm Levine, Danny Strong and John DiMaggio joined the cast. Then James Urbaniak, John Ennis and Autumn Reeser.The band Common Rotation made a guest appearance in the show and played afterward. Common Rotation became a regular staple followin g the Thrilling Adventure Hour. Marc Evan Jackson hosted Common Rotation's segment, which featured songs performed by Common Rotation as well as WorkJuice players and guest stars.

The final performance of The Thrilling Adventure and Supernatural Suspense Hour at M Bar was in January 2010. In March 2010, The Thrilling Adventure Hour shortened its title and started its run at Largo at the Coronet where it continues.[3] Beginning in January 2011, the Thrilling Adventure Hour began podcasting sketches from past performances.[4] In January 2011, the cast took the show on the road for the first time and performed two shows at SF Sketchfest.[5] In October 2011, the Thrilling Adventure Hour podcast joined the network of podcasts released by Chris Hardwick's Nerdist Industries.

Recurring segments[edit]

Most episodes feature both "Sparks Nevada" and "Beyond Belief". Normally "Sparks Nevada" begins a show and "Beyond Belief" ends the show.

"Sparks Nevada, Marshal on Mars"[edit]

  • Marc Evan Jackson plays Sparks Nevada, an Earth man sent to protect the Red Planet from the universe's robot outlaws, alien invaders and other galactic threats.
  • Mark Gagliardi plays Sparks Nevada's trusty native Martian sidekick, Croach the Tracker.
  • Busy Philipps plays The Red Plains Rider, a human raised by Martians who rides the red plains of Mars in vigilante fashion.
  • Nathan Fillion plays Cactoid Jim, wild as a cactoid, Mayor of Mars, "King of the Martian Frontier."
  • Linda Cardellini plays Rebecca Rose Rushmore, a popular writer of space cowboy novels who has come to Mars from Earth to live the sort of adventures she had only written about.
  • Josh Malina plays the Barkeep of the Space Saloon. He does not want any trouble in his place.
  • Jenny Wade plays Mercy Laredo, intergalactic bounty hunter and ex-girlfriend of Sparks Nevada from his Space Academy days.
  • Molly Quinn plays Pemily Stallwark, winner of Punishment Soccer and Sparks's deputy for a time, before becoming Marshal on the Moon.
  • Craig Cackowski plays local yokel Felton

"Beyond Belief"[edit]

Paul F. Tompkins and Paget Brewster play Frank and Sadie Doyle, a pair of fast-talking married mediums. Although this pair of high-society types would rather enjoy martinis and each other's company, Frank and Sadie usually end up solving paranormal mysteries.

Other segments[edit]

Episodes of The Thrilling Adventure Hour tend to include one of the following segments.[6]

  • "The Adventures of Captain Laserbeam" – A super-hero defeats villains.
  • "The Algonquin Four"&nbsp- Four historical figures from the Algonquin Round Table gain super powers from cosmic rays and fight the powers of evil.
  • "Amelia Earhart: Fearless Flyer" – A woman fights Nazis throughout history.
  • "Cactoid Jim, King of the Martian Frontier" – A hero from the past fights villains in the future.
  • "The Cross-Time Adventures of Colonel Tick-Tock" – A gentleman mends the timeline.
  • "Desdemona Hughes, Diva Detective" - Tinsel Town's Woman of a Thousand Faces solves crimes in the Hollywood of Yesteryear.
  • "Down in Moonshine Holler" – A depression era hobo fairy tale in which a millionaire renounces his riches and becomes a vagrant in order to win the love of the Hobo Princess. His mentor's name is Gummy.
  • "Jefferson Reid, Ace American" – A man and his friends fight Nazis in WWII.
  • "Jumbo the Elephant" – A Cuban elephant plays in an all-animal jazz combo and saves holidays.
  • "Tales from the Black Lagoon" – An actor is framed for murder in the Hollywood of 1954.
  • "Tales of the United Solar System Alliance" – A man commands a spaceship. His crew includes his family.
  • "War of Two Worlds" - A modern, satirical send-up of H.G. Wells' classic sci-fi tale.


  • WorkJuice Coffee
  • Patriot Cigarettes
  • Patriot Elites – A line of cigarettes for the wealthy
  • Sweetie-Pie Cakes


The Thrilling Adventure Hour began podcasting in January 2011. That same year, it became a member of the Nerdist podcasting network.

Additional Releases[edit]

The fourth season DVD of Castle features video of two episodes guest starring people from the show—a Sparks Nevada with Molly Quinn, and a Cactoid Jim with Nathan Fillion—as well as a behind-the-scenes documentary about the live show.

A graphic novel featuring stories based on each segment was released in 2013, and a concert film is currently in post production.

The WorkJuice Players[edit]

The WorkJuice Players is the formal collection of actors that routinely contribute their abilities to the Thrilling Adventure Hour.

Notable guest stars[edit]

Andy Paley Orchestra[edit]

The Andy Paley Orchestra is the formal collection of musicians that contribute their abilities to the Thrilling Adventure Hour.


External links[edit]