An avid player of tabletop and video games throughout his life, Conrad has a passion for unique design mechanics and is a nut for gaming history. He can be heard on the comedy podcast FistShark Marketing (fistshark.com) and streams video games often on Hitbox (hitbox.tv/ConradZimmerman)
The mere inclusion of Rodney Dangerfield can vastly improve anything. Films, music, toasters, anything. In particular, the force of Rodney Dangerfield could elevate video games to the level in which they are accepted by the mainstream as a true art form, bringing together people of all races, creeds and tax brackets in peace and harmony.
You may remember a post a couple of weeks ago regarding a month of video game-related entertainment at the Upright Citizen's Brigade Theatre in Los Angeles. Well, I'm a huge fan of The State, a sketch comedy troupe who had a TV show in the mid-nineties on MTV. Last night, they had a reunion show. They hadn't performed live in over a decade.
Now, my buddy Dan-o is a pimp. It's the only explanation I have for him randomly making friends with women all across the country who have never visted Phoenix. As it happens, one of these women lives in Orange County and works as a tech for a major studio. She called around to various contacts on our behalf to try and score us tickets to the show. Unfortunately, the UCB is an entirely self-contained operation that uses no union labor, so her efforts were in vain. What does she do? Drive to Hollywood and hang out all fucking day to secure us positions on the wait list.
We left Phoenix in the afternoon, Dan-o, my girlfriend and I. The trip to LA takes between 5-6 hours, depending on traffic, and we arrived shortly after 9 and spent fifteen minutes driving in a circle to get a parking space. See, the UCB Theatre is in downtown Hollywood, right across the street from the Scientology Celebrity Center, so parking within five blocks of where you want to be (no matter where you want to be) can be a challenge.
Upon arriving in front of the theatre, we observed the throng. A line running a full block down the street of impatiently waiting State fans. It had originally been my plan to just head out there, stand in line and hope for the best. Had that been our only recourse, my intrepid band of plucky adventurers wouldn't have even stood a chance. The stand-by list for people without reservations was over a hundred strong and the line that had formed actually consisted of people with reservations. Things did not look good.
We met up with Dan-o's friend, who directed us to a coffee shop down the street and told us of her afternoon. She'd arrived at about 2:30 and had been first in line, but decided to go get a few beers because they weren't going to be adding people to the stand-by list until around 7pm. We wound up in slots 5-9. Things were looking better. Surely, they could fit another ten people into the theatre for at least one of the two shows, right? Right?
As we stood in line for coffee, my girlfriend made a little gasp and tugged on my shirt. "Look behind you," she said. Lo and behold, directly behind me in line was Kerry Kenny-Silver, the only female State member. While I failed to prevent myself from coming off like a total fanboy by mentioning one of the more obscure projects of hers that I love (a band she sang and played bass in called Cake Like), she was very gracious and agreed to sign my book. One down, nine to go.
After a cup of coffee and a chance to relax in the very funky coffee shop (one room was decorated to seem like an outdoor patio, with very large, fake trees "growing" through it), we accompanied Dan-o's lady friend to her car. On the way, we passed what I can only assume was the side exit door for the UCB theatre and ran into Michael Patrick Jann and Todd Holoubek having cigarettes. I mentioned that I was surprised there was no mention of the show on The State's website. They were surprised to discover that The State had a website. And then there were seven.
Now, it was time to wait and see if our number was called. As was explained to me, part of the reason that the 10pm show sold out as quickly as it had was due to a large number of reservations being held for friends of the group. Unsurprising, really. When you have a group as large as The State getting together to perform together for the first time in a decade, obviously they're going to want to invite their friends. As we stood in cold, breathy anticipation, "Weird Al" Yankovic passed right by (pausing briefly when I asked to shake his hand) and headed into the show.
Thing were running quite a bit behind schedule because they waited until the last minute to start letting people in and, at 10:45, they let us know that there wasn't room for anyone on the stand-by list. We were disappointed but not without hope. To pass the time, we headed to a sushi joint next door and had some really excellent food.
Back outside at 11:30, the crowd was growing anxious. When one of the staff members stepped outside to remind people in the line who had already paid to show their handstamp on the way in, a guy standing next to me had the bright idea to try to recreate the stamp by drawing on his hand. Then they called for stand-by, making sure to inform us that this didn't mean we were getting into the show, but that they wanted to bring the first few groups into the lobby just in case they had room. My group was the last called and, as we huddled in the tiny lobby, the douchebag who'd drawn on his hand was being escorted from the building.
The theatre was already at capacity and likely a fire hazard, so it was standing-room only. Well, almost. There was still space enough for four people to sit ... ON THE FUCKING STAGE. Yes, I was on-stage with The State for the entire show. Most. Epic. Comedy. Performance. Experience. Ever.
The show itself consisted of a series of sketches about periods of American history. They began with a bizarre musical number and launched into a sketch with the Continental Congress debating what the national bird should be ("The bald eagle? Good bird. The penguin? Great bird."). Other sketches concerned the dying wishes of a feverish civil war soldier, baby-eating in the great depression, porno radio theatre and President Kennedy's promise to put four racists on the moon after the Russians send the first "gay" into space.
Michael Showalter and Michael Ian Black were, sadly, not present for the actual performance but sent along a video called "A History of Fucking In America" which consisted of them dressed in period garb pretending to have sex doggystyle from the 1800s through the 1980's. There was apparently no sex in the 1950's and they gave us a glimpse of what sex will be like in 2015. I, for one, welcome our sexual robot masters.
Not everyone was as lucky as I, however. In fact, just about nobody was. Still, not a single person was made to go home empty handed. Everybody left out in the cold who didn't get to see the show was given one of these: