Monday, May 12, 2008

Radio "personality" describes your Third Mate as "an actor and a good guy."

Saturday night, the Orpheum Rising Project Helpers put on a show celebrating questionable talent in order to raise money. The talent was supposed to be "questionable."
It was a Gong Show.
Civic groups, high school drama clubs, woman's basketball teams, and many other organizations that are usually ignored by the "Check for $25. There You Happy?" crowd put on Gong Shows. Based on the teevee show of the same name (created by Our Guiding and Abiding Mentor™ Chuck Barris, whom see), the show is simple and inexpensive to produce and prepare, appealing equally to would-be show-biz egos as well as to would-be show-biz critics, and has just enough sense of legitimacy and "drama" to warrant clearing out at least a part of the barn/art gallery/high school gymnasium for a night.
In my experience, it is unwise and incorrect to answer the question "Was it good?" in any way. Best to just admit that the publicity got the group's name into the media and the admission/donations made it possible to buy more pens for the office.
"Was it good?"
Such a strangely inapt query. Particularly when the idea is, essentially, that it is not supposed to be "good" at all.
"Make sure you listen to Evan on Monday morning," advised Chuck Hauck, O.R.P.H. Inc. President and an organizer of the project. The "Evan" to whom my good friend referred is Evan Rousseau, one of those guys I talk about when I talk about The Tyranny of the Amateur, particularly in local radio.
The way I talk about "radio personalities," you might think that I dislike them all. I dislike what they represent: diminished expectations. In radio, media, culture.
Evan is an associate with whom I enjoy working. He's eager, willing to learn (but not too much), and is ready, willing, and often prepared to ask questions. That's in the real world. I cannot listen to his show on WBSM. Much of the airtime in the SouthCoast is taken up by the people and issues that are comfortable for the hosts and callers, not necessarily the listeners. In Fall River, it's partisan politics and currently, public housing. In New Bedford, it's partisan politics and brownfield sites. Those are the issues that have carved a generous rut into the community radio discourse. At the expense of art, music, and culture. It is not, as I often tell myself and artists, that nobody cares about our exhibits or presentations. It is that the discourse is skewed and the hosts and callers do not have the ready vocabulary for discussion of those topics. (Their "ready vocabulary" usually includes terms like "tax-and-spend liberals" or "crimmigrants.")
This morning, I caught Evan talking about The O.R.P.H. Inc. Gong Show.
If I were a fool, I would say that it was an ego thing, because being a judge at the show gave him a handy excuse to talk about himself. But that's not it. Yes, he described me in the terms above, maybe because we have shared a stage before.
But he reported the Big Story of the night, describing how the winner, 6 year-old guitar prodigy Thatch Harrison, handed his $100 prize back to me saying, "I want to give this back to the theatre."
And that's what I think the whole night was about.
We all gave something back to the theatre.

4 comments:

karie said...

Whether or not it was "good," is, as you point out, unimportant. What matters is that it was silly-FUN, and it raised money and awareness. It was for an honorable project.

Personally, I am looking forward to the restoration of the Orpheum's famous "ballroom" so we can all get dressed up and go dancing!!

hgranger said...

And thank you for being such a wonderful host for the evening!

bitterandrew said...

Glad to hear it went well!

Do you plan on keeping the quotation marks around your given name? I would.

ThirdMate said...

A host is only as good as his guests, hgranger

Actually, bitterandrew, it was planned that someone else would be portraying me as host.
I just got called in at the last moment.