POST: Frigid Festival's 'Conversations With Body Language' - I was laughing all the way through
What's it about?
Conversations With Body Language is a one-man sketch comedy using nothing but body movements, music, and projections.
What'd I experience?
I've always been interested in the art of storytelling/comedy using only movement and props. I've seen a few Charlie Chaplin works, and although they are pretty dated, some of them are still genuinely funny. So, when I saw this modern tribute to Charlie Chaplin I knew I had to check it out.
My excitement began when I realized this show was at 10:30pm at Under St. Marks, which if you couldn't guess, is right on St. Marks place. I think we can all agree that St. Marks on a Friday night is easily the coolest place to be in Manhattan, so you can understand why I would be happy. I was even more delighted to see that the program said that the show was free admission if you are military, police, fireman (in or out of uniform) or JUGGALO (must be in uniform). Just the thought that at any moment a juggalo could freely walk in gave me a weird sense of anxious excitement. Like I didn't want one to walk in but at the same time I REALLY wanted one to walk in.
The show opened up with a very hardcore parkour video of the star Mike Spara just running around doing little flips and rolls over things, ending with him entering his house. As the video ended, he walked onstage with the same outfit from the video (it's like it just really happened!). As this happens, "Where Is My Mind" by the Pixies started playing. If you show me anything that has anything to do with Fight Club, you're automatically going to get a cool rating from me.
Then we followed him over to a blender, blending six raw eggs and a carton of cottage cheese, and THEN F&*%ING DRANK THE WHOLE DAMN BATCH OF IT (he also ate a Beggin Strip later on, but I feel like that's not even a big deal in comparison). All the while videos of muscle men flexing played in the background and the music kept going. This was easily the most hardcore opening to anything, ever. And while the rest of the audience sat in a horrid disgust (you should have seen their faces), I could feel that my face was making an absolutely twisted grin as I watched him down the whole thing. Like that was some dedication that I was watching right there.
There were a few segments that followed and I was laughing all the way through, and then we hit an "intermission." During this "intermission," the lights went out, and Mike came out and performed the choreography to Chandelier by Sia using a flashlight and a little finger guy while the actual video played behind him (also, if you watch the music video and the gif I linked to earlier at the same time, they go REALLY well together.) I can't even begin to describe how in tears I was during this whole thing. During the first part of the chorus he would just start going absolutely crazy with his hand and flashlight, and even start jumping and rolling around. Then, during the second part he would slowly aim the flashlight on his face and stare intensely at us. I'm surprised I was able to watch the whole thing between the laughing and crying. I am never going to be able to watch the video again without seeing him going crazy with his little finger guy.
The second "intermission" got me even better, because it just showed footage of an otter dunking a basketball over and over from different angles. While it was extremely adorable, what got me was when the words "OTTERMISSION" popped up on screen. Puns, man. They just give me so much life.
The skits ranged from quick 30 second ones to longer 5 minute-ish ones. It all had a kind of Monty Python feel to it, with longer sketches broken up by little gags in between. My favorite sketch had to be the love triangle between him and two life size Buzz Lightyear balloons, one inflated and one deflated. I'm completely serious with that to, that's the type of shit you just can't make up. The whole premise was that he was about to make love to the deflated Buzz, when he finds the inflated one behind the curtain. He then starts screaming and arguing (all silently) and it eventually ends with it escalating and him accidentally killing (popping) the inflated Buzz and hiding the body under a seat in the audience. I was laughing the whole time, but I was also so impressed with Mike. I could even understand everything, what he was saying, despite no words being spoken.
It even did that Monty Python thing where a tiny random sketch with no importance will come back later and make a big impact, where he was this one character that got a package containing an eye patch and became a weird hitman/assassin, and then came back randomly later on and threw a knife and accidentally killed the dog character he established before (I know it sounds really crazy, but it was beautifully crazy).
I honestly don't know how this guy isn't bigger than he is, but at the same time the small venue really made the experience. Since the theater only hosted about like 30 people, he was able to interact with each one of us at some point (I even won $2 from him at one point by finding him during his "Find That Guy Sketch"). During this karaoke sketch, he was signing "My Way" by Frank Sinatra, but doing it in that sort of way everyone does where they don't know the words and just go "duh duh da duh," and was going up to all of us and having us join along. Then at the big finish of the song it was just a room full of strangers emotionally and powerfully singing "DA DUH DA DUH," and it was that moment where I realized the small atmosphere really is what made this show so memorable for me, because I promise you that I will never forget that moment.