Monday, March 24, 2014

What People Will Do for Root Beer

So it's Saturday, March 22 and my actress Maria Romine and I are performing my show A Few Good Murders at Snus Hill Winery, which is located halfway between Slater and Madrid, Iowa.  Which is to say, in the middle of nowhere.

Yours truly as Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Murders.

The show is going reasonably well, though it takes most of Act One for the audience to get used to our style of humor, as this is only our second performance at this venue and we don't have an established following yet.  But by the end of Act Two, it's obvious that the audience loves us and we could very well be performing regularly at Snus Hill Winery for the next 15 years, as we have been at Pheasant Hollow Winery in Illinois, at Holy-Field Vineyard in Kansas, and at many of our other regular locations.

During the dessert break, Maria reminds me of something.  "You know," she says, "Today is the future birthday of Captain James T. Kirk!"  Readers may recall that Maria and I visited the future birthplace of Captain Kirk on our last trip to Iowa, which was only two weeks ago.  And as you can see below ...

.. March 22, 2014 marked the -214th birthday (that's negative 214th) of the commander of the Starship Enterprise.  Which is remarkable, as he doesn't look a day over negative 212.

Now back in the mid-1970's, when the original Star Trek was first in syndication, I used to watch grainy broadcasts of it on Channel 13 out of Jefferson City, Missouri - all without commercials, as Ch. 13 apparently couldn't place spots on a show that aired at 10:15 every Saturday night (nobody stayed up very late in those days).  And though the episodes were grainy (we lived more or less in the foothills of the Ozarks and a snowy picture was the best our rooftop antenna could muster), it was clear that in every episode of that remarkable First Season, somehow Captain Kirk's shirt got torn off and he went bare-chested for five or ten minutes at a time.  Oddly, this didn't happen as much in the following two seasons, as the good captain began to put on more and more weight.

By Season Three it was obvious that Kirk would have to have both his shirt and his girdle torn off if the producers wanted him to go bare-chested.

Here I am in our mystery Who Killed Captain Kirk, and it's clear from my "posture" that I'm portraying the Kirk from Season Three.

Anyway, back to the present.

"You know, Maria," I remark, changing the subject, as we chat in our green room while the audience eats dessert.  "We've got two really good audience members out there who are playing bit parts in our show tonight.  The gal playing the Judge and the gal playing the Hooker.  After we give a bottle of wine to the best sleuth in the house, I'm going to give something to one of those two girls as the best actress in the audience."

"What do you want to give them?"

"One of those mini-bottles of Iowa Root Beer, naturally.  It will fit in the pocket of my Tom Cruise Gym Shorts."


So we begin Act Three, which is the Solution.  I reveal Who Dunnit and how the clues all fit together.  We give a bottle of Snus Hill wine to one of the audience members who figured it out and who filled out a vote card, correctly guessing the murderer.  Lots of laughs, thunderous applause, the show is over, but I'm not quite through.

"Let's have the audience vote for the Best Actor / Actress in the audience.  The winner gets a mini-bottle of Iowa Root Beer!" I say reaching into my Tom Cruise Gym Shorts.  I have the dozen or so people in the audience who played suspects stand up.  I place my hand over each audience-actor's head in turn to see how much applause they get.  I save the Judge and the Hooker til the end, knowing they'll be the fan favorites.

Wild and raucous cheers erupt for both performers.  There's no way to determine who's won.

Well, as you can see we all ended up with a mini bottle of Iowa Root Beer (I kept the one that I'd stored in my pocket) - but how we got to that point takes some explaining.

Left to Right: The Judge, Yours Truly as Tom Cruise, the Hooker

Remember, now, two wildly popular audience members have gotten an equal volume of cheers from the audience and are neck and neck for this fabulous prize.

To break the tie, I approach two male caterers standing to the side.  "Which do you think wins the vote, guys?  The Judge or the Hooker?  You're impartial!  The choice is yours!"

At this point the Hooker stands up and starts dancing provocatively for the caterers, much to the audience's delight, trying to earn their favor.

The Judge, not to be outdone, stands up and takes off her sweater and begins prancing around (kind of like one of my Judge Judy fantasies, but somehow more disturbing).  She's wearing a T-shirt underneath, but at this point I'm faced with a bumping and grinding Street Walker and an almost topless Her Honor, an audience that's going wild - and I really don't know what to do.

So I did the only reasonable thing a comic actor would do in this situation.

I removed my shirt as well.

Hell, we're fighting for a Mini Bottle of Iowa Root Beer, after all!

But a bit of an unexpected thing happened.  When I removed my Tom Cruise T-shirt, my Tom Cruise Hat and Wig came off with it, leaving me dressed only in my Tom Cruise Gym Shorts and my Tom Cruise Make-up.

So that's the comic climax, right?

Well, not quite.

Seeing my wig on the floor, the Hooker does a kind of strip poker move that took us all by surprise.  She takes off her own wig and begins twirling it around.

It was like an episode of Girls Gone Wild, only it was in Iowa, not in the Bahamas, and I'm still having nightmares about it.  Luckily (or not so luckily), it was all caught on someone's cell phone.

The incriminating evidence follows.

The Judge, the Caterers, the Street Walker.

Yes, this actually happened.

And we have a winner!  Three of them!

Well, there you go.
So I inadvertently celebrated Kirk's future birthday in a way that will someday - 214 years from now - make him proud.

Did I mentioned I'm retiring from show business?  Soon, I hope!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So what can I say--It's been a Looonnngg winter in Iowa. That's my only defense. Plus the wine at Snus Hill is pretty good!! Yours truly--The Judge