‘Epic Rap Battles of History’ star bringing crossword game show to Turners Falls


  • Comedian Zach Sherwin, pictured in a previous performance, is bringing “The Crossword Show” to the Shea Theater Arts Center in Turners Falls. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • Comedian Zach Sherwin, pictured in a previous performance, is bringing “The Crossword Show” to the Shea Theater Arts Center in Turners Falls. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 7/15/2022 5:17:32 PM
Modified: 7/15/2022 5:14:48 PM

TURNERS FALLS — With comedian Zach Sherwin’s “The Crossroad Show” tour making stops along the East Coast’s big cities, it might be puzzling to see Turners Falls listed as a tour destination.

Aside from frequenting bigger markets, The Crossword Show — a game show that brings in a panel of local guests to solve a comedic crossword puzzle — has not toured the East Coast since before the pandemic. Now, making its way to the Shea Theater Arts Center on Monday at 7 p.m., Sherwin looks to take “the show down rabbit holes of comedy, music, trivia and wordplay, all inspired by the various answer words” of the crossword puzzle, as described in the event listing.

Sherwin, best known for starring in the “Epic Rap Battles of History” YouTube series and writing for “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” said as the tour sought an additional venue, Turners Falls worked perfectly to fill in the blank.

“I like coming to western Massachusetts because it’s my kind of people,” he said. “It’s smart people, but it’s people who have a funkiness and a weirdness.”

Sherwin said that after living in the Boston area for a few years and performing as a comedian, he wanted to “widen the web a little bit” and perform in smaller, more intimate venues. He then moved to Northampton, where he lived for a year and welcomed a new chapter of change.

The Crossword Show, Sherwin explained, began as an early concept pitched to him on Twitter by an acclaimed crossword enthusiast.

“I kind of viewed him with annoyance at first, a (direct message) from some rando on Twitter, you know?”

He entertained the conversation, however, and soon, his opinion of the idea drastically changed.

“It is my favorite creative thing I’ve ever done,” Sherwin said. “If this was a relationship, I’d say in my vows, ‘This is everything I ever wanted. I’m never letting you go.’”

The Crossword Show established itself in Northampton at Signature Sounds’ Parlor Room, where WRSI The River radio personality Christopher “Monte” Belmonte was featured as a guest panelist. Sherwin said he later learned of Belmonte’s other hat as president of the Shea Theater, and was thus connected to another venue.

Sherwin cited bringing aboard new guests, along with their “different set of life experiences and attitudes,” as his favorite part about putting together the shows. Monday’s panel will feature Belmonte; Amherst area comedian Kim DeShields; and Jennifer Malkowski, an author, associate professor of film and media studies at Smith College, and founder of the college’s Video Game Research Lab.

“There’s like 10 different sliders that we’re always moving and adjusting to find the right people,” he said, identifying humor, wit, marginalized identity and having good stories as favorable traits.

Those who might be drawn to The Crossword Show due to being fans of Sherwin’s resumé should come prepared to experience much of what they already know and love, the comedian said. In addition to the crossword competition, there will be “seven to nine” different comedic rap songs performed, true to the roots that helped make Sherwin famous. After all, he said, music and crosswords each get their magic from words.

“Lyrics are puzzles. You’re trying to communicate some bit of information and you have to do it in an efficient way,” he said. “That’s what a crossword puzzle is, or figuring out a maze, or figuring out how life works.”

Tickets to The Crossword Show on Monday at 7 p.m. at the Shea Theater on Avenue A can be purchased in advance for $15 at showclix.com/event/the-crossword-show-with-zach-sherwin. The show is listed as being for all ages.

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.


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