No Shame Theatre

If you interact with me outside of this blog, you’ll learn that I won’t shut the hell up about No Shame Theatre. Which is weird, because I first saw the No Shame poster (featuring a old-time woman with an octopus head) in my freshman dorm, and the idea of my friends dragging me along to see this weird and likely audience-invasive show chilled my lower back and kept me in my room Friday nights. So my friends dragged me along to see this weird and likely audience-invasive show, only No Shame Theatre didn’t force watchers to participate. At the part of the show where audience members competed in a stripping contest for a Snickers, they asked for volunteers like a normal group. Years later, I’m leading that “normal group,” starting cults, creating drama onstage, battling drama offstage, and generating enough laughs a week to power the entire world’s electricity for one, maybe two seconds. Hey, it’s a big world.

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I’ve memorized the spiel I give whenever someone asks what No Shame Theater is. Each Friday during school semesters, people come to us in the Lobby of the University of Iowa Theater Building and say “Hey, I want to put on this skit I wrote, or this poem I created, or this interpretative dance I rehearsed, or just stare and gargle at the audience for a while.” To which we say, “Great! We’ll put you in line. There are three rules. 1. Your piece must be original. 2. Your piece must be under five minutes. 3. Your piece can’t hurt anything physically (but feelings are ok).” At 11:00 pm, we transition from the lobby of the Theater Building to Room 172, and assemble a show out of what people brought us.

We also host a Best Of show at the end of each semester, taking the best submissions and asking them for an encore. Instead of the usual $1 admission (used to cover the room rental/posters), Best of requires $3 to witness. And it is absolutely worth it. It’s our biggest show, with our best stuff, in a grand celebration engineered to take your mind off of the 400-question final and 25-page paper due for Intro to Mathematics. This year’s is Friday, May 8th. If you want to come, here’s the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1463933463898565/

After tumbling in love with No Shame, I stuck to a regular submission schedule- one skit a week. And let me tell you, I can think of little else with a better effect on my writing. It may be too good an effect, actually- whenever I try to write something else now, said work tends to be comedic, episodic, and short. As someone in charge of putting on good variety at No Shame, I started submitting something else each week to fill time, like a poem or an essay or some bizarre anti-comedy piece.

If I had a complaint about the nature of the show, it’d focus on feedback. You have to go out of your way to find out what people thought about your work. I blame our audience: those scoundrels, always too damn appreciative! Grow some class! But for real, the reason post people perform comedy skits here- and why I think I’m attracted to comedy in general- is immediate response. Your jokes work, they laugh. If not, then not. People here will applaud and listen to anything (I only remember one ‘booing,’ a stand-up with racist and sexist jokes. And, more offensively, just plain bad jokes), because they’re great people, libertine in their humor and open with their friendships. The best way to use No Shame requires committing yourself to bring something each show. The core group’ll always like it. And people will let you know if they love every second of it, even if it takes a while for you to bring something of that caliber.

Here’s something I submitted last week. It’s to the tune of “A Little Priest” from Sweeny Todd, found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I96RZh8108o

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Seriously, if you don't know this show, turn back now.
Seriously, if you don’t know this show, turn back now.

They All Taste Funny To Me

By Nick Edinger

TJ and NICK sit at a table.

NICK

I dunno, it’s just- what you guys said during your skit hit me right here. No Shame’s attendance sucks. We need to do something drastic, and quick.

TJ

Have you tried getting the word out?

NICK

Yes.

TJ

Encouraging a following?

NICK

Yes.

TJ

Putting on entertaining skits?

NICK

Look, you do that. I think I do that. But we’re nobodies. And it’s not like we can get Louie CK into No Shame or something.

“A Little Priest” plays from 0:16

TJ

Well you know me, bright ideas just pop into my head and I keep thinking…

DOESN’T SEEM TOO HARD…

NICK

When- are we singing now?

TJ

SEEMS AN EASY FIX…

A FAIR BIT OF LARD THAT CK HAS…

NICK

Well…

TJ

WELL, HE’S NO PACK OF SIX.

BUSINESS NEEDS A LIFT, WE COULD TAKE OUR PICKS

WE COULD MAKE HIM SEEM BIT MORE LEAN- YA SEE WHAT I MEAN?

No? (Sighs) DOESN’T SEEM TOO HARD.

I MEAN, WE’D BECOME LOUIE SO EASY, IF WE JUST GAIN AND EAT HIS BRAIN.

NICK

What?

TJ

HERE I’LL EXPLAIN.

TAKE FOR INSTANCE AZTECS ATE THEIR PRIS’NOIRS OF WAR.

ATE THEIR HEARTS AND TONGUES TO GAIN ALL OF THEIR ABILITIES AND MORE.

AND I THINK THEY REALLY HAD THE RIGHT IDEA AT THE CORE.

LET US DO IT WITH THEIR FUNNY BONES.

NICK

MISTER TJ, WHAT A STROKE OF GENIUS

EMINENTLY PRACTICAL

AND STILL YOU’VE JUST SAVED NO SHAME!

MISTER TJ I THINK YOU SHOULD BE THE FIRST TO DINE ON OUR COMEDIANS!

HOW INTELLIGENT!

ALSO IT’S QUITE ELEGANT!

HOW CHOICE!

HOW RARE!

TJ

I’M GLAD I’M NOT ALONE

It’s an idea.

THINK ABOUT IT! EVEN ALL THE GOOD ONES ARE A DIME A DOZEN WAY OUT THERE!

MY MOUTH

WATERS

AT THE

THOUGHT!

NICK

FOR WHAT’S THE NATURE OF COMEDY?

TJ

WHAT MISTER NICK, WHAT MISTER NICK, WHAT DO YOU SAY?

NICK

IT’S BREAKING TABOOS IN SOCIETY!

TJ

YES MISTER NICK, YES MISTER NICK, AND THAT’S OK!

NICK

CANNIBALISM IS NOT SO FINE

NICK AND TJ

SO IF WE EAT THEM, IT’S A GREAT PUNCHLINE!

NICK

Ahh, these are desperate times, Mr. TJ! And desperate measures must be taken!

TJ mimes pulling a body onto the table.

TJ

Here we are now! Hot out of the oven!

NICK

What is that?

TJ

CK. HAVE LOUIE CK.

NICK

LOOKS SOMEWHAT VULGAR

TJ

BUT NO SIGN OF DECAY.

BRINGS TO YOU A TASTE THAT YOU NEVER THOUGHT OF.

IT’S EASY TO LOVE.

NICK

APPEARS RATHER ROUGH.

TJ

SO’S ALL THE BEST STUFF.

NICK

HAVE YOU DANGERFIELD, OR OTHER HOT STUFF?

TJ

NO YOU SEE WITH ROD DANGERFIELD, IT JUST DOESN’T YIELD ENOUGH.

TOO MUCH FLUFF!

NICK tries the Louie CK.

NICK

Mmmmm, excellent! Not as spicy as Pryor, perhaps, but then not as bitter as Carlin either.

TJ

I would give you some Sandler, but our last batch went rotten on us. Seems to happen a lot with Sandler.

COSBY’S PRETTY FINE.

NICK

FAVORITE OF MINE.

TJ

A DELICACY THAT HAS SOME CLASS, BUT DON’T EAT WITH A GLASS OF WINE!

NICK

ANYTHING WITH JUICE?

TJ

IF YOU WANT A CLASSIC FROM BACK THEN

IT’S HARD NOT TO LIKE LEN-NY BRUCE.

OLD ONE BUT IT’S LOOSE.

IT WAS WHAT INSPIRED MY KINISON MOUSSE!

NICK

IS JIM CARREY GOOD WITH SHERRY?

TJ

YES, BUT IT’S TOO ELASTIC AND TASTES LIKE IT’S PLASTIC!

NICK

HERE’S A GOOD SNACK: BERNIE BIG MAC.

TJ

BUT WILLIAMS MAKES FANTASTIC PRODUCE!

NICK AND TJ laugh.

NICK

THE GREATEST SECRET OF COMEDY

TJ

IS IT DIRTY WORDS, IS IT MAKING FUN OF WHAT NERDS LIKE?

NICK

IS PUTTING PEOPLE IN MORE MISERY!

TJ

SERVE CHRIS ROCK WITH HERBS, MAKING SURE THE CHAPPELLE IS STIRRED RIGHT.

NICK

WE’LL SUBJECT ALL THESE ARTISTS TO THAT

NICK AND TJ

AND WE’LL CALL OUR ACT THE ARISTOCRATS!

Lights begin to fade out.

TJ

Now let me see. A, We’ve got, a, Daniel Tosh.

NICK

No, no. Something… posh.

TJ

Colbert.

NICK

More flair.

TJ

Bob Hope.

NICK

Less soap.

TJ

Chris Farley.

NICK

Less Barley.

TJ

Galifianakis.

NICK flips off TJ. By this point, lights should be all the way down.

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3 thoughts on “No Shame Theatre

  1. Pingback: No Shame Syllabus | Word Salad Spinner

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