October 24, 2009

The hotel we are staying in in Columbia is not what one would describe as “fancy.” There are identical fake paintings hung over both beds in our room. They depict a tree and a little bit of ocean, encircled by cloud. The shower is awesome, though. (I rate showers based on how quickly they can turn the bathroom into a misty rainforest paradise. This shower renders the tiny cubicle containing it and the toilet Ferngully in like eight seconds.)


I have to go to Kinko’s to print something I will then put in an envelope and mail to New York. Kinko’s sells envelopes, so after I am done printing I grab a box and wait on line to buy them. Both employees behind the counter are occupied with customers who seem to have time-consuming print jobs going, and it takes a hell of a long time to get to the front of the line. Waiting, I am reminded of the time in college when, rather than buy a box of envelopes from the NYU bookstore, I (gasp) stole a single white envelope from a box and lammed it. I felt alternately very guilty and very thrilled. I’m pretty sure I justified it to myself by thinking, hey, I’m paying them tons of tuition, they owe me this envelope. I’m also pretty sure it was to mail NYU something, a check or immunization form or something. It was a case of “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s by stealing it from Caesar and mailing it back to Caesar with more stuff for Caesar inside.”


I do work at Starbucks. There is the sort of person who would’ve turned a tour of American college towns into an opportunity to hang in all kinds of cool local coffee shops. I am apparently not that sort of person. Not on this tour, anyway. A guy at a table behind me tells his friend how, at the job he used to have, they thought he was going to blow up the building. He was investigated for actual no-fooling terrorism. The charges were, in his words, “maliciously falsified.” He sounds upset. I guess you would be.


That night, we show our new videos and do a plug for the movie in front of the Comedy Wars show, Comedy Wars being the long-running Mizzou improv group. Their show is in a big open room in the middle of the Memorial Union, a la the beloved Arizona State improv group Farce Side. The MU bathroom soap dispenser dispenses not soap, but “Hand And Body Shampoo,” according to a little silver sticker. Outside the bathroom, in the drain of the drinking fountain, there are a couple of tiny carrot cubes and miniature shrimp, the freeze-dried non-noodle items from a Cup-O-Noodles. It would seem someone filled their Cup-O-Noodles here pre-cooking, and lost a lot of the good stuff in the process. That, or after eating their Cup-O-Noodles, someone poured the dregs into this drinking fountain and then used the cup as a Cup-O-Water.


It is funny how used to performing comedy for large groups of college kids we are thanks to spending spending our college years performing comedy for large groups of college kids. What we do at Mizzou that night is literally one-for-one pretty much what we used to do in the day: futz around with cords and audio and video and microphones while a roomful of kids waited in a makeshift performance space, and then eventually we’d take focus and do a show for them. I have been consistently surprised by how much of making and promoting a movie consists of activities that are versions of stuff we used to do in the process of writing and putting together and performing sketch comedy shows in school. I will say it a thousand times during the course of the tour in talking to various people, and it’s true: all the best stuff I learned in college I did not learn in classroom. Or if it was in a classroom, it was a classroom we were squatting in to rehearse or appropriating as performance space. I think I will know I have strayed from the path when it stops feeling like a bigger, higher-stakes Hammerkatz show.


Walking to dinner after the show I see a sign in a parking garage that is, in its tone and large, severe black lettering, a terrifying message from the future. It says PAY MACHINE NOW.


Let’s say you had a thing where you were lucky enough to go around the country and sometimes people wanted to take pictures with you. What if, over time, enough people put pictures of you with them on Facebook that, scrolling through said pictures, it became clear that you only ever wore like four shirts? You could write it off by saying, “Well, I’m touring around the country, I don’t have that many shirts with me,” right? But what if the Facebook timestamps made it clear that you only ever wore like four shirts over a period of months…YEARS, even? What then, Mister Ever-So-Slightly-Famous-Person? What the fuck then?

Posted by DC at October 24, 2009 02:46 PM
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