Q&A with Richard Marsh, Writer and Performer of Yippee Ki Yay

Are you a fan of Die Hard? What’s the story between you and the film? Do you have any fond memories/a personal connection to it?

Richard Marsh in Yippee Ki Yay. Photo by Rod Penn

I’m a HUGE Die Hard fan! I’ve loved the film since I first saw it on VHS.

Die Hard was unusual in its day as John McClane isn’t a superhuman musclebound larger-than-life Arnie / Sly-type figure. He’s fallible, he’s self-critical, he’s scared. He’s a very human hero. And he talks to himself. He has to, because he’s on his own (until the great Al Powell shows up). John literally monologues in the movie and it struck me that might lend itself to a theatrical monologue – and to poetry.

When did you first get the idea to write a parody of Die Hard and what did that process look like?

I’m not sure when the notion of telling it as a one man play came about. A while ago, though. The thought of Die Hard, that many people think of as a quintessential action movie, told via poetry, just tickled me. On top of that: what if the cool, wise-cracking tough guy John McClane was played by the bespectacled, rhyming geek Richard Marsh? That seemed fun. And it has been.

Richard Marsh in Yippee Ki Yay. Photo by Rod Penn

For a long time it was an ‘I must do that when I have the time’ idea. Then, during the second lockdown, I was working on another play, which was decent but quite hard going, and I realized it was the wrong thing to be doing at that time. I wanted to make a show that would be a lot of fun to do and hopefully a lot of fun to watch. The reaction we’re getting makes me hopeful we might have succeeded.

How did you find it writing the show? Were there any last-minute changes/huge edits?

I loved writing it! Writing the Die Hard part of the show was a very enjoyable process. The biggest difficulty was having too much material and deciding what to cut.

The hardest part was writing the personal story we tell alongside the Die Hard side. I kept writing this much longer than we have time for in the show. So I’d cut it back and somehow, although each individual cut made sense, something would always be lost in the process, so I’d rewrite, and it would get too long again… It took talking it over with an old friend (kind of my dramaturgical Al Powell) to find a structural change that allowed the personal story to come to life in the show. This was during previews, so it was fairly last-minute, yes!

Could you give us a brief overview of the show? The sheer scale aside, what are the differences from the film?

Richard Marsh in Yippee Ki Yay. Photo by Rod Penn

Audiences get all of Die Hard – all the iconic moments and characters and action – but also a more intimate, personal story alongside it. In terms of differences… there’s a slightly different cast! I tell the entire story myself. All my favourite characters have made it into the show, but I had to cut some smaller roles. My rule of thumb was if John doesn’t talk to someone directly, they probably need to go.

Do you stay true to the film plot?

You tell me. I think so!

What do you hope the audience take from the show?

I’ve tried to make a play that is a joy to watch. I hope the audience have a really good time, laugh themselves silly but find themselves moved, too.

And the most important question of all…Die Hard…Christmas film or not?

It absolutely *is* a Christmas film, but one I like watching all year round.

To me, the Christmas film question comes from people, perhaps unconsciously, defining a Christmas film as one you can watch with children. I haven’t shown Die Hard to my kids. But other than that, it has all the classic Christmas film ingredients. Except maybe snow. That doesn’t appear until Die Hard 2.

Yippee Ki Yay – The Die Hard Parody
Dec 6 – 23, 2023 · Garner Galleria Theatre

This article was reprinted with permission from Yippee Ki Yay – The Die Hard Parody