02 April 2006

Exit Stage Left..

The venue in this story is Mississippi Studios in Portland. This great little place that sits at most 100 people. I've been lucky enough to catch some amazing talent there.. However, Saturday night I left not completely sure what I had seen.

(Background info: in this photo, the photographer is standing on the stage and the seats are turned around to face the back balcony. During concerts / performances there are seats on the balcony as well. The bar is located on the back, left corner of the balcony. The back wall of the stage is the wall adjacent to the street, and so the front door is located just to the left of where this photo is taken, a few feet from the edge of the stage.)

I'd arrived shortly before the show started, grabbed a drink from the bar, and found a seat in the back row of the lower seats. (My seat was the farthest one on the left as you face the stage..) The act was "Mississ-Improv". A group of 5 guys who do this comedy bit, a little like that Drew Carey show, "Whose Line is it Anyway".

They broke their act into two parts. The first story (as suggested by an audience member) began in a cabana in Palm Springs. There was a drunk tourist, an impatient waiter, a successful business man, his secretary who his wife thought he was sleeping with, his drunk wife, their son who got lost after his drunk mom wasn't paying attention to where he is... And so on and so on.... The story continued on for about a half hour. Characters entered and left the stage. The story line kept shifting to show each sub-plot. It was fairly amusing, quite funny at times, and you had to admire their ability to come up with characters and plot lines as they went along..

After intermission, however, my opinion of them drastically changed. They said they wanted to do an act in honor of April Fools Day. They had someone suggest a "tragedy". Someone in the back yelled, "Abu Ghraib." The actors took their positions. One slumped in a chair, head hung low, arms behind him as if he was tied there. One got on his knees, head hung low, his arms held straight out to his sides. Two stood next to the kneeling man; one on each side of him. And the last stood leaning against the wall on the back of the stage.

The two flanking the kneeling man began acting as if they were playing chess. The invisible board resting on the man's back. Making snide comments about how much they hated it there and wished they were back home as they took turns moving their chess pieces. The man's arms sagged, and one of them yelled at him, "Keep 'em up!" Then the guy in the back started a rant about how much he wished he could have some McDonald's.

This all happened within the first 2 minutes of the second act, but I'd seen all I could stomach. I got up, put on my jacket, excused myself as I walked in front of the 7-8 people in my row, climbed the stairs to the bar, set down my half empty drink, and walked back down the stairs and out the door.... Everyone in the place, as well as the people on the stage, had to have seen me do this..

I only regret that I didn't ask them if they thought it was funny on my way out the door. However, I went home and immediately sent them a quick email.

"I would guess that you are still on stage at Mississippi Studios. However, two minutes into your second act, I'd had enough.. And, in case you didn't see me leave, I really wanted you to know that I had walked out.. More importantly, I wanted you to know how unbelievably offended I was by you making jokes about Abu Ghraib.. Do you actually think that was funny?? Do you have no compassion for the people who have been horribly wronged on your behalf?? Do you care about anyone besides yourself??

Perhaps to you this was all just a joke, part of your act... If you found it funny, then perhaps I should also feel sorry for you.."

The whole experience still leaves me with an ill feeling. One that will surely be with me for a long time. Don't get me wrong, I'm all in favor of free speech. I only wish that people would practice a bit of decency....


Blogger TLC said...

what a way to stand up for what you believe and for being pro-active in that department!

4/04/2006 10:18 AM


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