Tuesday, January 24, 2012

No. 863 – Sliver

Performer: Nirvana
Songwriter: Kurt Cobain
Original Release: single
Year: 1990
Definitive Version: None

My apologies for the mistake in the previous entry: It should be FCC, not FTC. Phil, the Moron button please …

Anyway, the first real trip that Debbie and I took as a couple was to Chicago over Labor Day weekend in 1994 at a time when I had Nirvana on very heavy rotation. At that point, I was getting the itch to get to Chicago, even though it had been less than a year since I had been last.

I introduced Debbie to all my favorite spots, several of which Jin had turned me onto during previous jaunts. The best thing Debbie and I did on that trip was Too Much Light. Too Much Light, or the long-running sketch show Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, has been running for 20+ years at this point, and—for those of you who aren’t aware—the premise is simple. The cast attempts to do 30 sketches (can’t really call them plays) in 60 minutes, some comedy, some drama.

Too Much Light (TML) then and now shares space with a funeral home; the show space is on the second floor of a building that could substitute for a Revolutionary times restaurant, and in the antechamber where you wait before the show, you could play board games while you waited. (This was before cellphones; the games are gone now.) In fact, the first time I went, Jin and I played the awesomely funky—and mostly forgotten—Which Witch.

For your admission fee, you roll a die, and you paid (back then) $1 plus the amount of the die. I knew I was going to roll a six and sure enough the boxcar came up. We each got our nametags—mine was Alrightee—and at this point, I was pretty sure Debbie was wondering what she had let herself get into.

The show was great as usual, but a few things stood out about that time. First, it was about the only time I’ve gone where TML didn’t sell out, which means they didn’t order out. (The staff buys a single pizza to be delivered and split 200 ways if they sell out.) Second, it was the only time that I’ve gone where they didn’t finish all 30 sketches in time. They had one sketch, which was essentially a repeat of the previous one but performed down on the street. This necessitated everyone to get up, clear the theater and go downstairs—and then come back. In short, this meant we were screwed, because the previous skit was the longest one of the night. Oh well.

But the trade-off came afterward. The TML cast hangs a row of numbers affixed with clothespins on a line across the front of the stage. The crowd shouts out a number, someone grabs it, reads the sketch, wads up the paper and tosses it into the audience. I caught a number and had a genius idea. After the show, I got everyone in the cast (still the original cast) to autograph the number, explaining that it was for my sister, who introduced me to TML and who had moved to L.A. and was homesick for Chicago.

I smoothed out the paper, put it in a frame and gave it to Jin at Christmas. She was beside herself when she realized what it was. The last time I visited her, I noted with some satisfaction that she still had it hanging on a wall in her house.

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