Saturday, May 19, 2007

Is This Thing On?

The boy and I, assisted by two of his friends, performed our final routine for the school's annual talent show, and it was a bit of a disappointment, at least for me. As I've said, the school and some of the parents narrowed our comedic options year by year, for fear that their kids might imitate our unseemly or offensive bits, as apparently some kids did after we killed in our very first appearance. We would still get laughs, but over time it became more scattered, since the kids were waiting for us to top ourselves, which we never could or did.


Yesterday's routine was the weakest yet, which is a sad way to go out, and I have to admit it still bugs me this morning. This family takes creative expression seriously, perhaps too seriously at times, and I'm the Number 1 offender. The teen, who saw our act, liked one of the more conceptual bits, where the boys performed comedy inside a tornado, yelling out set-ups and punchlines while flying all over the stage (the audience liked this, too), but she thought we should've just said fuck it, and put together a really weird, violent set.

"What are they gonna do? That's the last show ever, so they can't ban you or anything."

"Yeah, but your brother has another month of school, plus there's the other two boys to think about. If it was just me, that's one thing. But these boys would have to face a lot of hostility if we went apeshit."

"Not from the kids. They'd love it."

True. For all the talk about how the talent show is for the children, it's really for the parents, all lined up in the auditorium, video and cell phone cameras held high, capturing moments that cannot be adequately remembered unless recorded. Think they want their precious memories sullied by "Young Ones"-type slapstick?

But their kids undoubtedly would.

Later in the evening, I stumbled across Albert Brooks' "Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World", which I'd seen before and enjoyed. It doesn't approach the brilliance of Brooks' "Real Life" or "Lost in America", but it is one of Brooks' better efforts in years, and there are several scenes that are as funny as anything Brooks has done. The boy came in and watched with me, as did the teen and the wife, and we all shared many laughs together, which helped take the sting out of the day. At one point, after Brooks bombs in front of an Indian audience (one of the best scenes in the film), a young Iranian asks him if that was the first time he ever performed comedy, since it went over so poorly.

"No!" thunders Brooks, informing the man that he's been in the business for over 30 years. "In comedy, you try different things. It's okay to bomb."

The boy turned to me and said, "See Dad -- it's okay to bomb!"

Needless to say, that made my night.

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS: Of course, there's something unseemly about an American bitching about less-than-perfect talent shows when his tax dollars are financing the ongoing destruction of Gaza. There's much to say about the new round of madness there, but today I cede ground to Laila El-Haddad, a single Palestinian mother raising her son, Yousuf, in what continues to be hell-on-earth. I just discovered her blog, and encourage you to read it as well.