The Swashbuckler’s Stocking Stuffer - Behind the Scenes with The Swordsmen’s 25th Anniversary DVD

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TONICK Productions gives a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the creation of their latest DVD release, The Swordsmen 25 Then & Now, that celebrates the comedy sword fighting duo act once hailed by the Chicago Tribune as “part Errol Flynn swordplay, part Three Stooges slapstick”. This 2-disc set is being released in time for holiday giving for the hardcore Renaissance Faire fan in your life.

...a whisky-voiced lady bartender screeches: "You guys break anything yerrr gonna PAY fer it!"

Origin stories are big these days, just ask the major movie studios as they crank out tale after tale of various superheroes' often-humble beginnings. But sometimes truth is not only stranger, but more fun than fiction. Case in point: the amazing stalwarts of the renaissance faire circuit known as the comedy duo Dirk and Guido: The Swordsmen -- less commonly known as the actors/producers/directors and stuntmen Douglas R Mumaw and David Woolley.

For the uninitiated, The Swordsmen, (http://www.theswordsmen.com) are a comedic sword fighting team that have been romancing faire damsels (pun intended) and teaching menfolk the manly art of gentlemanly behavior for over 25 years at renfaires across the country.

As the creative minds behind TONICK Productions, producers Antonia (Toni) Carey & Nick Palazzo explain, “We first encountered The Swordsmen when we became their fans, while attending a show in Bristol, Wisconsin.”

As Nick described it, “…women loved them and men wanted to be them.”

Toni laughs admitting, “When a biker looks wistfully at two guys in tights because they’re getting all the girls, we knew they were on to something.”

Their act has been described as “Danny Kaye meets Wiley Coyote” or as a critic for the Chicago Tribune once called it, “…a highly entertaining performance that’s part Errol Flynn swordplay, part Three Stooges slapstick.”

Nick continues, “We were thrilled when The Swordsmen approached us in 2008 to spend a weekend shooting their first-ever DVD. It was an eye-opening look behind the scenes at the hard work, creativity and physical dexterity that fuels Dirk and Guido.”

The results were captured on the DVD The Swordsmen - Live at the Faire, now in its third pressing.

“Fast forward to 2013, when the men approached us about putting together a DVD celebrating their 25 years,” Toni said. The result is the new 2-disc set, entitled The Swordsmen! 25 Then & Now. She continues, “When we naively agreed to the project, we had no idea the enormous scope and size of materials to be made available to us. To see The Swordsmen in their infancy was a revelation. We witnessed first-hand the hard work (and in the case of Woolley, a lot of painful Buster Keaton-like falls) it took to hone their brand of witty repartee and swordplay. “

The DVD offers fans a rare insider’s view of their creative process. Someone actually unearthed early VHS tape of their first rehearsal resulting in a sequence that takes the audience from their awkward beginnings to staging their triumphant first show. The actors even allow their fans access to a few embarrassing early moments. In one example, while rehearsing near a vintage neon sign, a whisky-voiced lady bartender screeches: "You guys break anything yerrr gonna PAY fer it!" And for fans who wonder what Dirk Perfect looks like in leg warmers, this is probably their only chance!

Viewers familiar with their comically suave characters will enjoy seeing an early experimental effort played out over an entire faire day with the guys in Renaissance lady drag. The mustachioed duo infiltrates the Queen's Court with hilarious results.

Disc 1 features a 45-minute, in-depth interview with the men behind the swords. For most, it will be the first time hearing The Swordsmen -- out of character and in their natural voices -- telling their story. It also offers a glimpse of their ongoing non-Swordsmen careers in the theatre, academia and beyond, peppered with humorous anecdotes. Newcomers to The Swordsmen can peer into the world of the renaissance faire performer and many of the colorful characters they’ve met along the way. The Swordsmen even answer questions submitted to them by Facebook fans and field some from the crew.

Disc 2 represents the mother lode of Swordsmen memorabilia: early photos and video documenting their careers. As Mumaw says in the kickoff to Disc 1, "You can watch us age visibly."

There's a lot of crashing into walls and floors and a clip of Guido singing along with faire favorites, the New Minstrel Review. For those fans that missed the now-legendary Swordsmen Holiday Spectacular Show, (only performed for one season in Chicago) they are captured recreating show highlights at Bristol in 2013.

For the hardcore renfaire fan, Santa may have just come early. The Swordsmen! 25 Then & Now 2-Disc DVD set is a great way to enjoy two of the funniest men in the business celebrating 25 years of medieval merriment. Please note: for Christmas delivery, orders must be received before December 10, 2014 on the Swordsmen’s site. For more information, please visit http://www.theswordsmen.com

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