Rubber Chicken Scratchings: Nearly 25 years of holiday revues — can you believe it?Which of the following has a Duluth mayor never done? A) Double-billed the city for lunch; B) double-billed the city for street lights; C) stuck a dismissal note on a door with double-stick tape; or D) doubled the city debt with a beautiful empty aquarium and a beautiful empty “tech village.”
By: Brian Matuszak, Budgeteer News
So I love makin’ fun of the mayor. And it doesn’t matter which one; from Fedo and Doty to Bergson and Ness, the position of “head of Duluth” seems to bring out the “best” in people!
(Quick quiz — which of the following has a Duluth mayor never done: A) double-billed the city for lunch; B) double-billed the city for street lights; C) stuck a dismissal note on a door with double-stick tape; or D) doubled the city debt with a beautiful empty aquarium and a beautiful empty “tech village.” Here’s a hint: It’s a trick question!)
Having a bit of fun with Duluth politicians is an awesome responsibility, one that I have been fully embracing since my first holiday sketch comedy revue with Colder by the Lake in 1987. Once Margi Preus and her super-funny friends showed me the power that comes from hearing an audience laugh at a joke you created yourself, I was hooked.
I’ve been putting together holiday sketch comedy revues for nearly 25 years now, and the process never gets old — unlike the puns, which, I admit, are sometimes as stale as the dinner bread at Bellisio’s.
There is something wonderful about sitting around in a room with a bunch of friends and figuring out how to take a news item and turn it into comedy (luckily, it’s not always that long of a journey).
As I said, it’s quite a powerful feeling. I can see why Aristophanes liked it: You get to acknowledge people, places and issues that seem to be bigger than the rest of us, then bring them down to earth a bit through the use of well-constructed jokes and highly intricate scene work.
Of course, contorting your body into all sorts of strange angles while making googly-eye faces and fart noises is kinda fun, too. (That’s why the Marx Brothers rule, by the way. Take Groucho’s verbal wordplay, Chico’s silly accent and puns and Harpo’s physical shtick, mix it all together with some Jeno Paulucci jokes, and you’ve got a show!)
Yes, it’s a serious business, creating comedy. When my friend Donn L. Hanson and I branched out and created Renegade Comedy Theatre in 1991, our very first production was a holiday comedy revue. It’s what we both enjoyed doing, and we knew audiences enjoyed them, too.
Be honest; when you first heard about Richard McNutt reneging on a deal to sell his kidney a few years back, your inner comic came up with several jokes about it.
And when we staged that show back in 1997, a record-setting number of people showed up to see what we would do with it. Local audiences support local comedy. Simple as that.
And I am grateful for it.
Now I find myself creating more revues with a brand-new group of talented folks at Rubber Chicken Theater.
It’s still just as rewarding when you figure out the best way to have fun with Brett Favre’s cell phone as it was to figure out that first Colder sketch nearly a quarter of a century ago.
My hair’s a little grayer now (and less abundant), and my facial mugging serves more of a practical purpose now (hiding wrinkles) than it does the emphasizing of a punch line, but I don’t mind giving up my December weekends for such an endeavor.
Bottom line? It’s fun. And I invite you to come share in that fun.
Besides, you know you want to see if we came up with the same jokes as you did for the Oberstar-Cravaack election.
With a name like “Cravaack,” you know it’s funny!
Brian Matuszak has been difficult and demanding since February 2008. He co-founded Renegade Comedy Theatre, founded Rubber Chicken Theater, and he admits to missing the old revue days of brainstorming in the Dreamland Ballroom, then trying to get the stink of chicken wings and Shish Ka Bar out of his clothes.