Monday, December 11, 2006

How Performance Art Killed My Buzz

DISCLAIMER: Lincoln Center, I’m sorry…but not that sorry.
Frequent Paper readers will know; I, Mike Hadge, do not often write about my individual experience, as I find it self-indulgent and pretentious. Nevertheless, I’m doing it now. However, in doing so, I hope to spread this good message to the world, thus saving a few (thousand) lives in the process. Heed this good word, and ye shall be rewarded. God, it occurs to me that this is my like 45th “Here’s What I Thinks Sucks and Why” article in a row. Is it just me? Am I the one with problems? Am I way too cynical and should just enjoy life and what it brings? Nah, it’s totally everyone else.
Anyway, our story begins last Friday night, after the Fordham Comedy Troupe took an enjoyable trip Dallas Barbeque (the “e” is silent…the second “e”), followed by catching an improv show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. Basically, there was drinking involved, and it took many forms; green margarita, orange margarita,…I guess that’s it. Nevertheless, after the show, we were all looking to continue the night at a Manhattan bar or at least back in the Bronx. Hell, we were a bunch of delightfully buzzed improv kids, we were up for anything at that point. Or so we thought…
Our story continues at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus, where every Friday at midnight, an event called No Fear is staged. For those unfamiliar with it, No Fear is basically a performance art showcase, allowing anyone to submit and perform anything they’ve written. Anything. Now, I should preface this by stating that I like Lincoln Center kids, and some of my best friends are Lincoln Center kids. Also, don’t ask how we ended up at No Fear, that’ll just make me mad. That being said, I went into this with an open mind, a slightly buzzed mind, but an open mind. We sat down in the dark, cramped room, and waited to be entertained.
Then it happened.
An EMO-looking kid took the stage, acoustic guitar in hand. Now I don’t mean to generalize based on appearance. But you know, he had the thick rimmed glasses, stringy hair around his eyes, tight t-shirt with some band’s logo that no one’s ever heard of, and high tops. Dear God no, I think to myself. Then again, don’t make assumptions Michael, maybe he’ll surprise us all and play a country-twinged tasteful rock ballad. STRRRUMMMM!! Shit, that was a minor chord. He’s playing an EMO song. See? Sometimes you gotta go with your gut. Immediately, I look to my left, then to my right. The surrounding members of the improv troupe stared helpless, like children who’ve just been told there’s no Santa, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, or God. Believe it or not, this song was about a girl…who didn’t like the singer, or something. It’s EMO, what else was it gonna be about?
Well, it can only go up from here, right? WRONG!
Next, we were treated to a monologue from a small, effeminate young man, wearing a sweater with a collared shirt under it. That right there should tell you how the monologue was. I swear to God, all “artsy” monologues have the same damn formula: Begin, talk about “rainy days in the Hampshires”, talk about “I remember the way she loved blue frosting”, talk about “the sigh of a winter’s kiss”, make a reference to your impending doubtfulness, throw in a sly reference to a late 80s product or television show, end. That pretty much covers it. This monologue was no different, only infuriating me further. My buzz was still there, but it wasn’t helping at all. Oh no. Rather, the fact that I had a buzz caused the aggravation to magnify ten times over, and I began to act irrationally, looking for a way out in the darkness, trying to dig out of the room through the wooden floorboards somehow with my bare hands. None of this worked. And in retrospect, I really wished it would have, for the night was just beginning. People around me were laughing and enjoying it, but just the Lincoln Center students, which makes sense, since they all drink and shower in the same water. Naturally, I do the only rational thing and express my intense frustration and confusion by writing on some old receipts I found in my wallet. The first receipt, a faded Hannaford groceries slip, I wrote on during this particular monologue. Here’s what I wrote on it: “Lincoln Center dude, I mean God damn!” – Yes, “God damn” was underlined in pen. Twice. That phrase pretty much sums it all up about this experience, I mean what was I watching? But wait, the receipt had more: “Jesus! Fuck! NOT FUNNY! NO! STOP! Artiness (equal sign crossed out) Funny! You just suck! WTF? Stop!!!!! I’ll bet this kid is w/o genitals!” Classy, Hadge.
Next up: another monologue. This time it was by a very liberal looking girl, a “free spirit”-type if you will, doing an original monologue about the wonders of innocence and childhood, all in the style of a five year old. Groaaaaaaaaaaan. Doing a funny voice, jumping around, and dancing are all well and good, but not when you’re buzzed and definitely not when I’m buzzed. If you’ve seen RENT (and this girl definitely has, trust me here), you can basically concoct in your head exactly what this act was like, and you’d probably be 100% accurate. I mean, this girl just screamed “theater kid”, and in the worst possible sense. Don’t get me wrong, I am a theater kid, a lot of my best friends are theater kids, but Christ, when taken too far, theater-ness can cause all inner organs to just lose control, explode, and eat themselves. At that point, I’d rather hang out with a diseased Nazi. But alas, I was amidst “performance artists”, not theater kids. There’s a difference. I guess.
Also, I’d like to apologize for my gratuitous judging-based-on-appearance, I swear I don’t commonly practice this practice. However, this night was different, and when you’re surrounded with “artsy free-thinking artsy artists”, they’re basically asking you to judge them by their appearance. To my credit, I was right every single time. Also, I continued doing it the rest of the night. Anyway, back to this monologue. Oh right, by the tenth minute of this monologue (all acts were supposed to have a “five minute time limit”, but all of them easily passed that by what seemed like a few hours), I had found another receipt in my wallet on which to express exactly how I was feeling: “Y do LC kids think they’re talented?!? THEY ALL SUCK!!! AHHHHH!!!” An ignorant blanket statement I agree, but put it in context. Would you have written anything different?
Alright, here comes Effeminate Kid in Sweater with Collared Shirt under It #2 to perform Pretentiously “Witty” Monologue #3 for the night. Things were getting ugly now. This monologue was designed as back and forth letters between two people, which was supposed to add to its individualism and uniquenessity. Under any other circumstances, it may have been pretty good, but these were not any other circumstances. In case you’ve forgotten, I was buzzed and incredibly antsy. Not a good recipe. Unless you’re cooking disaster. (SIDE NOTE: I just realized while writing this that I just inadvertently created a fantastic tagline for an action/thriller movie about a chef who secretly fights evil masterminds in his spare time. Coming this summer – Chef Boyar-D [for Death]. No one steal this idea please.) That being said, I searched for another receipt from my wallet to express my feelings somehow, and in lieu of another one, I wrote on the back of the Walgreen’s receipt: “JESUS! HOLY SHIT!” They were written pretty large, so there wasn’t really any room for anything else on the thing. Now, why did this monologue rile me up so damn much? Well, as I said, this kid was effeminate (nothing wrong with that, btw…despite what The Ram wants you to think), and while there’s nothing wrong with that, I’ve just always had an issue when effeminate men use their effemininity for laughs. The LC crowd was cracking up at this kid’s joke-less monologue, and it was all due to what I call “The Awww He’s Gay Factor” – when those around an effeminate male give him undeserved accolades and free passes in life purely because he’s like a sister, but a boy! Other repercussions of the AHGF include, but are not limited to; allowing a gay male to act like an absolute obnoxious bitch because he’s a boy so it’s cute and funny; girls kissing said gay male because “it doesn’t really count” (gimme a freakin’ break); girls going shopping with effeminate male in question and returning from Macy’s with the same scarves. Ok, un-PC rant over. I’m sure this kid was a nice guy. Oh, and by this point I was out of receipts to write on so I did the next logical thing and wrote on my right hand: “WTF? JESUS! Help! Awful awful! Y R they laughing? WTF is funny?!” I’m sure he was a nice guy, though.
After what seemed like the eighth hour of these proceedings, I was convinced that I had been through the worst. Wait for it…I hadn’t. As the lights went down again, who should come up to stage but THE EMO KID! AGAIN! Fear not though, he did not have his guitar. Rather, he brought a friend, and they were performing a comedy sketch, scripts in hand. The audience had that uncomfortable hum about it by this point too, like when they’ve stopped selling beer at a soccer game, or when the Rolling Stones announce they’re gonna play some material off their “new album” at a concert. You can just feel the animosity. The sketch began and it was, not even joking, the EMO kid jumping up and down, yelling “do you want to play”, and the other kid sitting there, making references to wizards. I really wish I was making this up. I’d delve further, but I’ll let the rest of what I wrote on myself do the talking:

Left hand: (unintelligible…but looks like) LatjkJill HOLY SHIT!!


Right Leg: AHHH! FUCK!!! GET ME OUT!!!!!

At this point I just blacked out from rage.
Oh, there were a few more acts, and they ended up being pretty good, but it didn’t matter by this point; my buzz was gone. Granted, this problem is very insignificant. After all, what kind of world do we pampered college kids live in where losing a buzz is considered a real problem? No, it’s not about the buzz. Rather, it’s about the principles. It’s about the “performance artists”; they must be stopped before it’s too late. I was unaware until that night, but Lincoln Center seems to be a breeding ground for kids who think they’re really good at this stuff, and maybe they are. Nevertheless, “performance art” should be preserved for coffee shops deep in the belly of the village, and more currently, on YouTube. That way, people who want to see it can actually seek it out and enjoy, instead of getting tricked into sitting through it while in the middle of a night of social drinking. As I took that long Ram Van ride back to campus, covered in my own script, I wondered if humanity would have any hope left; if soon, the performance artists would take over. All of the free world would be forced to wear matching scarves, write poetry about their favorite features of autumn, and memorize the entire score to Wicked. Bullshit would rain from the heavens.
Thank you for letting me get that off my chest, Lincoln Center. You’re still better than Marymount.

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