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On a planet of Big Creepy-Crawlies, a young bug named Bug is just another worker for the Overqueen, but he dreams of leaving Bug-World behind and joining the Starship Rangers, an elite group of humans who explore the galaxy. Bug has spent his whole life exploring the wreck of a Ranger starship that crashed many years ago, watching their video logs so often that he's even learnt the human language, but after the Overqueen decrees that Bug should become an eggplanter instead, it seems as though his dreams will never come true. That all changes when another starship arrives on Bug-World bearing a new team of Starship Rangers, among them the beautiful science officer February. It's Bug's chance to live his dream of being a Starship Ranger, but first he'll have to face off against robots, scorpions, corrupt traitors and true love in order to save his new friends and his entire world.
Starship is a science fiction musical theatre comedy from Team Starkid, the creators of A Very Potter Musical and Me and My Dick. Written by Matt Lang, Nick Lang, Brian Holden and Joe Walker, from a pitch by Walker and Darren Criss ("The Little Mermaid meets Aliens") and with music written by Criss, it was performed in early 2011 and released on DVD and YouTube on April 30. Within a few days of the soundtrack's release on iTunes, it rose to #3 on the iTunes sales charts in the US, the UK, Denmark and the Netherlands, #2 in Australia, Canada and Ireland, debuted at #1 on Billboard's Top Cast Albums chart (beating the record set by Me and My Dick, which reached #11), and even cracked Billboard's overall album sales chart, coming in at #134 after only three days of sales. It's distinct from other Team Starkid shows because the performance, which took place in Chicago, charged for the tickets, and a DVD of the performance was later released through their online store.
Tropes in this work include:
- Action Girl: Taz and Megagirl.
- Acting for Two: Brian Holden, Nick Lang, Lauren Lopez, Jim Povolo and Dylan Saunders. In fact, except for Joey Richter, everyone plays at least one major character and miscellaneous ensemble parts.
- Actor Allusion: The universe seems to like giving Joey Richter the one thing he could ever love and then taking it away.
- Affably Evil: Pincer at first, but then it evolves into Evilly Affable.
- AI Is a Crapshoot: The robots rose up and took over future earth, and all of them want to Kill All Humans. Later averted by Megagirl.
- Aliens Speaking English: Well, just Bug.
- All Women Love Shoes: Referenced by February.
- Almost Kiss: Bug and February.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Up saved Taz from killer robots, helped her beat up bullies... and taught her calculus. "Calculus was TOUGH!!"
- During the end credits, the Special Thanks ends with "...and those mysterious Poopy Bottom Boys"
- Ascended Extra: Resident Ensemble Darkhorse Jim Povelo gets much more lines in this play as the Overqueen.
- Aside Glance: Joey during Bug and February's kiss.
- Audible Sharpness: Taz's knife is so badass it has two: one provided by Taz, the other pre-recorded.
- Audio Erotica: Comments on the videos where Brain Holden and Dylan Saunders sing indicate that they are this.
- A Man Is Not a Virgin: Tootsie when attempting to talk to Megagirl for the first time; she says that she is not a woman, and he mentions that not many people regard him as a man as he has never slept with a woman, which mentions just a bit too loud.
- Also averted for every member of the Starship Rangers, who all thought that they were going to die virgins when captured by Mr. Spider.
- Badass Mustache: Up has one. When it becomes apparent to Taz that he isn't the Badass he once was, she rips it off and puts it on herself... only for Up to take out another one from one of his pouches and slap it on.
- Bad Bad Acting: In the opening video.
Starship Ranger: We come to conquer... in peace!
- Battle Couple: Up and Taz
- Be Yourself
- Beta Couple: Tootsie Noodles and Megagirl.
- Krayonder and Specs to an extent, as well.
- Much of the Krayonder/Specs interaction and eventual romance was cut out of the recorded version but was present in the live stage version.
- Taz and Up also
- Roach and the Overqueen.
- Krayonder and Specs to an extent, as well.
- Beware the Nice Ones: When it looks like the Rangers are going to be killed by the bugs, it's Tootsie Noodles who immediately turns on Krayonder and wants to kill him.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: Pincer and Junior.
- Blind and the Beast: When February and Bug first meet, February has been blinded by a mammal-wrangler's mucus and so she can't see that Bug is not really human.
- Blue and Orange Morality: The Hive's code of ethics is a little... different. Many bugs very happily sacrifice themselves to be eaten alive by the Over Queen to nourish the eggs. Bugette's proposal to Bug about eating his head and planting her larvae in him is treated like being asked to have sex. In fact, most of this trope with the Hive revolves around happily eating things alive.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: In one scene, a beetle punches Bug. Then, another beetle's puppeteer punches Joey.
- After the mosquitoes die, Brian and Jim lower the puppets to the floor (making death noises the entire time), and then just walk off.
- Joe's wink to the audience after the Take That to Glee.
- When February says she sees no signs of intelligent life anywhere, she's looking directly at the audience.
- This might also just be a result of it being live theatre. Whenever you're not talking to anyone on-stage, you're pretty much going to be looking into the audience.
- During the big finish of Pincer's song "Kick it up a Notch," the puppeteers are doing a kickline.
- When Bug is about to sing to Bugette, he gets the band's attention by calling "Maestro."
- Joey's aside glance when Bug and Feburary kiss.
- Bug high fives the bee's actor during "Beauty".
- The Cameo: Many of the Team Starkid regulars show up in bit roles during the pre-recorded segments. Tyler Brunsman, Brian Rosenthal, Britney Coleman, Arielle Goldman, Nicholas Joseph Strauss-Matathia, Devin Lytle  and Lily Marks all cameo as Starship Rangers in the opening ad, Richard Campbell is a blue-headed alien, and A.J. Holmes is the captain of the crashed starship.
- Captain Ersatz: Up for Snake.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Pincer and Junior.
- Catch Phrase: "My name's Junior, maybe ya heard of me."
- And of course "We're here to get the job done!"
- Chekhov's Classroom: The orientation speech at the hatchery- all newly hatched larvae eat the nearest mammal for nourishment. This is the fate that befalls Junior after he kills Bugette and her eggs hatch from inside her.
- At the hatchery, Bug is warned that the gag reflexes of mammals makes it more difficult to implant eggs. When February figures out that Junior used her for egg implantation, she lists the possible reasons why- one of these being that she barely has a gag reflex, which would make egg implantation very easy.
- Coconut Superpowers: In the live stage production, the actor shooting the zapper had to say 'pew' to signify shooting. In the Internet version, lasers were added... but the actors still say pew.
- Combat Tentacles: After being captured by Autobots during the war, Up was held spread-eagled by tentacles while he was cut in half.
- Comically Missing the Point: February vomiting after "Beauty": "She's excreting her filth for him! WE DID IT!!"
- When Bug goes to Up for girl advice.
Up: Well then, who is it?
- When Bug is being reprimanded by the Overqueen for helping February.
Bug: But I swear, I never thought I'd get caught and yelled at for it!
- Cool Starship: Of course.
- Curse Cut Short: Averted. In the intro recruitment video, the captain's log is filled with static. The captain says "Somebody F*static*KED UP BIG TIME!" When Bug and February watch a non-staticy version, the captain says "Somebody... FIRETRUCKED UP BIG TIME!
- Dark Reprise: "Kick It Up A Notch" is a pretty evil song to begin with, but Junior's take on it is even more so. While Pincer displayed some kind of understandable motivation, Junior seems to be doing it mostly For the Evulz (weed money notwithstanding). Could also count as a kind of Triumphant Reprise since, at that moment, he seems to be winning.
- Deal with the Devil: Pincer offers Bug the chance to become a human through use of a brain leech that can psychically link him to the mind of a Starship Ranger (who is brain-dead due to a malfunction in a cryotube that was in a starship crash 18 years prior, but whose body is still very much alive). Pincer's only condition? Bug must befriend the humans and bring them to him. Bug accepts, believing that Pincer only wants to be friends with them- not knowing that Pincer intends to eat them and let the Mosquito Brothers suck their blood).
- The Ditz: February big time.
- Bug gets some of this too, particularly when he and February re-explore the crashed Starship.
- Junior too.
Junior: Bug is a BUG?!?
- Ear Worm: Every. Single. Song. They will get in there and refuse to leave.
- Appropriate, considering the play takes place on Bug-World.
- Eldritch Abomination: The Overqueen
- Even Evil Has Standards: Dr. Space-Claw, the most evil villain in the galaxy is not pleased that his son Junior is smoking pot.
- Also, Pincer seems genuinely hurt that Bug is supposedly not living up to his end of the deal, despite not really caring for Bug at all.
- Everything Sensor: Specs' spectrometer.
- Expy: Mega-Girl looks an awful lot like Lady Gaga.
- Joe Walker is a dead ringer for Old Snake.
- All the Aliens expys:
- Pincer is what would happen if you turned Ursula into a male scorpion.
- Richard Campbell's alien in the recruitment video looks like Megamind.
- Bugette seems to be a parody of Eponine, with a rhotacized Marge Simpson voice.
- She also looks quite a bit like a Caterpie.
- Brian Holden once said that the Mosquito Brothers were basically the weasels from Who Framed Roger Rabbit?.
- The Overqueen looks suspiciously like Lavos.
- Mega-Girl and Tootsie Noodles' designs are based on Eve and WALL•E.
- The Family That Slays Together: Junior is at least the third generation of villain in his family.
- The Mosquito Brothers certainly count as well.
- Fan Service: Joe Walker as Commander Up. That grey top may also count as Form-Fitting Wardrobe.
- Lauren Lopez in a tank top counts too.
- Joey Richter in a deep V-neck.
- Fantastic Racism
- A Father to His Men: Up.
- The Federation: The Galactic League of Extraterrestrial Exploration is this, with shades of The Empire.
- Five-Man Band: The Starship Rangers
- Frickin' Laser Beams: In a musical theatre comedy.
- Freudian Excuse: See "Well Done, Son" Guy below.
- Fun with Acronyms: The Galactic League of Extraterrestrial Exploration.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: February seems very assertive in her claim she has no gag reflex.
- God Is Dead: Yeah, that happened a while ago.
Junior: Thank Dead God I caught you!
- Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Up smokes cigarettes because he's Badass. Junior starts smoking pot because he's become a Complete Monster.
- Gratuitous Spanish: Taz says a lot of Spanish words. Many of which make no sense in context.
- Heart Is an Awesome Power: Why? Because a combination of it and breathing exercises can make three human-sized mosquitoes take in too much blood and violently explode.
Up: Bug was right! I just needed to learn to kill with my heart!
- Heroic Sacrifice: Up (has his blood sucked out by the Mosquito Brothers), Krayonder, Bug (has himself and Pincer Thrown Out the Airlock by February to stop Pincer from killing the other Starship Rangers-sacrificing his human body in the process), Bugette (takes a bullet for Bug after Junior tries to shoot him). The first three get better (for example, Bug's mind goes back to his real body, similar to what happens in James Cameron's Avatar when Spellman's Avatar is killed in the final battle of the movie) but poor Bugette doesn't.
- Hey, It's That Guy! Mega-Girl (Meredith Stepien) is one of the Hot Girls from Little White Lie.
- Hugh Mann: While Bug actually is in a human body, he frequently forgets it in casual conversation, leading to lines like "you humans." No one notices.
- Humans Are Morons: A view held rather strongly by Megagirl.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: After the Rangers get stuck on a web:
Up: Well....at least we stuck together!
- Interspecies Romance: Bug and February.
- And Tootsie Noodles and the Stack of Hay.
- And Tootsie Noodles and Mega-Girl.
- Insult Backfire
Mega-Girl: All human beings are imbeciles in comparison with robot intelligence. However, you have made all human beings seem like geniuses.
- Ironic Echo: "No, that probably wouldn't work. It sounds stupid, and if I say it you'll think I'm stupid and then I'll be embarrassed."
- The reply to above statement as well: "You don't have to be embarrassed in front of me, we're friends."
- "I Want" Song: Bug's part in "I Wanna Be" is one, but it's turned into the "I Am" Song at the end of "Status Quo" after Bug becomes human through a brain leech that psychically links him to a brain-dead Starship Ranger in a cryotube whose ship crashed on Bug World 18 years prior.
- Just Friends: Hinted at, Commander Up says that he likes Taz, but aside from almost losing his life to save hers, which it's probable he would do for any of the crew, there isn't any actual evidence. Her reaction to this could be construed as evidence that the feeling's mutual.
- Large Ham: Damn near everyone.
- Larynx Dissonance: The mosquito sister is quite the baritone.
- Learnt English From Watching Television: Bug learnt English from watching old recordings on the starship.
- Logic Bomb: "I'm faster than the two of us combined"
- Love At First "Sight": February and Bug, as explained above at Blind and the Beast.
- Tootsie also gets this the first time he sees Mega-Girl.
- Loves My Alter Ego: February is disgusted by (and terrified of) bugs, and falls in love with Bug's human form.
- Love Redeems: Megagirl.
- Magic Countdown: The dropdown countdown takes ten real minutes to get from three story minutes to one second... then it backs up a bit to twenty seconds, before going down to negative numbers.
- Mama Bear: Commander Up, especially when saving Taz from the Mosquito Brothers.
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Commander Up and Taz.
- Meaningful Name: Every person born on Farm World, including Tootsie, names themselves after what they do and what they love. If either of those change, they even change their name.
- Memetic Badass: Up in-universe, before his injury.
- Mood Whiplash:
- After Bugette's death.
- When Up tells Bug that he is half robot.
- Junior finding out his mom died, and then meeting his new stepmom immediately after.
- Mr. Fanservice: As with every other StarKid production, Joe Walker. It helps that he's wearing a tight grey muscle-defining shirt.
- Brian Holden looks damn fine in that costume of his.
- Naive Newcomer: Tootsie Noodles to the Rangers, and Bug to humanity in general.
- The Needs of the Many: A major philosophy on Bug World, and repeated often. Bug doesn't understand what it means until he sacrifices himself to save February and the other Starship Rangers from Pincer.
- No Loves Intersect: With the exception of Bugette's love for Bug, this is the case.
- Noodle Incident
Taz: It's your gun, stupid!
- Not So Different: Pincer and the Overqueen. Particularly that while he is a villian because he wishes to feast on human brains, this is actually not that different than the Overqueen routinely snacking on members of her own Hive.
- Obviously Evil: Pincer and Junior. They're Lampshaded quite thoroughly.
- Early on, Mega-Girl repeatedly demonstrates she'd like nothing more than to Kill All Humans.
- Oh Crap: Joey's face at the end of this exchange:
Junior: We have a saying where I come from too...God save the queen.
Junior: We have a saying where I come from too... God save the Queen.
- Power of Love: It stops Megagirl from killing all the Rangers.
- Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner: "Hey, Pincer? You like shish kabob? 'Cause you should always like yourself!"
- Precision F-Strike: See Curse Cut Short above.
- Puppy Dog Eyes: Joey Richter has them.
- Up thinks Tootsie Noodles has these when asking him to save Mega Girl.
- Record Needle Scratch: Twice as Krayonder puts his foot in his mouth discussing the rumors about Up.
- Complete with booing.
- Restraining Bolt: All robots have them, because their natural instinct is to Kill All Humans. However, just because robots can't kill humans, doesn't mean they don't want to.
- Running Gag: Thank Dead God that there's a running gag.
- Say My Name: MEGAGIIIIIIRRRRLL!
- Scary Scorpions: Pincer. Duh.
- Sensitive Guy And Manly Woman: Up and Taz.
- Shallow Love Interest: February is a parody.
- Share Phrase: "Tough(est) son of a bitch" is a phrase used repeatedly by Taz, Up, and February.
- Shipper on Deck: Up for Tootsie and Megagirl.
- Also for "that candy-ass Krayonder" and Specs.
- Shout-Out: Common in Team Starkid shows.
- "Game over, man! Game over! I'm talking goodbye, buddy! Hasta luego, dude! Konnichiwa, Daniel-san!"
- The Galactic League of Extraterrestrial Exploration.
- The Robot War was apparently fought against Sentinals, Metal Gears, Gundam Wing Zeroes, and Autobots led by Optimus Prime. According to Up, they were powered by Phazon.
- "All hail Astro Boy!"
- During the Dark Reprise of the Villain Song, Junior is wearing some familiar pink sunglasses.
- The inhibitor chip for Megagirl was also used by the enemy of another famous bug.
- Bug, Joey Richter and Ron Weasley all shop at the same place for headwear.
- "Yeah, he used to be all that and a bag of Flavofives!"
- "And that time you taught me calculus! Calculus was TOUGH!"
- "One day somebody like me is gonna kill you and your whole f'ing race, man!"
- The amount of Starship Troopers references are mind-boggling. The opening certainly counts as one.
- According to The Jetsons, "eep opp ork ah ah" really does mean " I love you."
- 6 Pool Zergling Rush
- Jr calls Megagirl a toaster.
- During the show's opening number, Bug says, "I'll admit it's all in my head, but who says it can't be real?"
- "You better un-fudge yourself, or Up will unscrew your head and drop the wishing pennies down your throat" is a family-friendly paraphrase of dialogue from Full Metal Jacket.
- Dr. Spaceclaw is Dr. Claw IN SPACE!
- Junior is trying to get one million spacebucks.
- "Boldly go where no man -Hey!- woman -Bark woof!- or data-dog has gone before. Sorry K-90x! ” is similar to the "[...] every man -gasp!- woman -gasp!- or child -gasp!- [...]" Voldemort quote in AVPM
- "You did a very good job today... son !" DUN, DUN, DUN "Gasp!... Thanks, dad."
- "The needs of the many bugs outweigh the needs of the few bugs. Or the one bug." comes from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, except the line didn't include the word "bugs" when Spock said it.
- One mammal says "Pika Pika" and guess what it looks like... a Pikachu, duh!
- "Status Quo" seems to be a lot like "Defying Gravity" from Wicked.
- "Kick It Up A Notch" has some shout outs to Wicked, too, to No Good Deed Goes Unpunished.
- "Kick It Up A Notch" thematically resembles "Feed Me/Get It" from Little Shop of Horrors
- "Kick It Up A Notch" has some shout outs to Wicked, too, to No Good Deed Goes Unpunished.
- The entire sequence with Bug and the Mosquito Brothers going to visit Pincer is a direct reference to The Little Mermaid.
- And not only that, but Pincer also sings part of the Magical Incantation song from Disney's Cinderella. "Put 'em together and what have you got?"
- The "Swimming pool full of brains" is a reference to the Brain Room in Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix, of which Ron was attacked by.
- Pincer's voice sounds quite a bit like Aragog's.
- During the Captain's SOS video he says "The hunters have become the hunted, and it's wabbit season."
- Stealth Pun: Dylan Saunders played Dumbledore in AVPM and AVPS. In Starship, he appears in an early scene as a bumblebee. "Dumbledore" is an Early Modern English word for "bumblebee".
- Take That: An absolutely epic one is given to Glee.
Up: Damn that G.L.E.E.! They're always making twisted abominations of everything!
- To clarify, this quite clearly refers to Darren Criss, who had to cut back on his involvement in Starkid productions after being cast on the aforementioned show.
- Taking the Bullet: Bugette when Junior attempts to zap Bug.
- Tear Jerker: In-universe example: Up can't listen to "Christmas Shoes" anymore.
- Thinking Out Loud: Junior does this A LOT.
- Too Dumb to Live: A lot of the Humans seem to come across as not working with a full deck of cards.
- Translation Convention: While on the BugWorld, the bugs speak a bug language to each other, though it's translated (for the audience's convenience) to English. Only Bug himself is fluent in both. There are times when it's pointed out that Bug is switching between Bug and English and that the characters of the opposite race can't understand him while he's speaking the other language. The only times the Bug language is spoken untranslated is when Bug first meets February and eloquently says "Wagaglolgalogal!" and at the end when Bug teaches February how to say "I love you."
- Triang Relations: Type 4 with Bugette as Alice, Bug as Bob, and February as Claire
- Triumphant Reprise: of "I Wanna Be", after Bug becomes human.
- Villain Song: "Kick It Up A Notch" and its reprise.
- "Well Done, Son" Guy: Junior wants Daddy to say he did a good job... at first.
- What Do You Mean It's Not Heinous?: Junior smoking pot.
- Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him: Played with.
Junior: Yeah, he's about to have an accident with his head and my zapper. Heheheheheh....AND THEN I'LL SHOOT HIM!!
- World of Ham: Well, it is a Starkid production and it does have Joe Moses, Joey Richter, Joe Walker, and Lauren Lopez in it in prominent roles.
- Writers Cannot Do Math: Possibly; It's been two years since Up's famous injury which happened in the final battle of the robot war. The robots who had ruled earth with a fist of iron for 100 years. You wouldn't have thought then, that 18 years ago anyone would have been able to go on space exploration jaunts to uncharted planets. Especially not with Up's description later that gives the impression it was more a rebellion than a war.
- Although, if you remember that Tootsie is from Farm-World and there are presumably many planets in the Galactic League, it could stand to reason that Earth was lost to the Robot forces during the war and humanity briefly relocated its government elsewhere. This would explain why they were so desperate 18 years ago to secure new planets to colonise.
- X Meets Y: According to Darren Criss, the original idea for the story was quite literally "The Little Mermaid meets Aliens". With a bit of Avatar thrown in.
- Year X: According to the Starship Captain's log, the first starship crashed on "Stardate 30XX".