“get up, rooster! kick his ass!”

did i just say that?

Last night, for the first time in my life, I enjoyed wrestling.

This is a very new experience for me, as I’ve always had that nose-in-the-air disdain for the entire wrestling corporation.  But this was a bit different.  This was Blue High Machine.  Imagine this:  you’re at a local bar and you’re watching a theatre festival.  Comedy troupe, comedy troupe, choral Shakespeare-ish show– and then the lights go out.  The stage manager asks you to move your chairs away from the center of the bar, and fifteen men come out and set up a wrestling ring and a full band.  Lighting, sound equipment, mattresses on the ground– it took over twenty minutes.  After that they start the show in the same manner as you’d see on television.  But seeing it right in front of me was something different.  The rock music was blaring as they did the commentary on what was happening in the ring.  Four men were in this tiny ring just throwing each other around and flailing and falling into the crowd.   There were people with martinis just staring in confusion.  Others were chanting, cheering, jeering and screaming.  Some covered their ears.  Some just sat and laughed.  There was such an air of comedy and danger and fun that you couldn’t help but watch it.  Of course, I was interested mainly because I had a couple of friends in the show, but watching the stage combat right in front of you was something I hadn’t seen before.   The entire concept of a wrestling match in a theatre festival was such a nice break from what “conventional” theatre is always thought to be.  I like it when “theatre people” have to see something new.

I found myself thinking, “Why am I watching this?”  I saw some people leave.  I guess they thought that it would be a parody of professional wrestling, instead of the real deal.  Now, granted, some of these men don’t look like wrestlers, and it really had a back yard feel, but that was what sold it for me.  It wasn’t about taunting or being macho, because sometimes after a particularly dangerous stunt you could see one actor whisper to the other,  “Man, you okay?”  and you’d see the other actor smile and then give him an elbow chop.  When I watch Professional Wrestling they never look like they are having fun.  It always seems like they think the show is bigger and better than you are.  This was all about doing something for the audience.  That’s what entertainment is.

I’ve never been fond of theatre where the director/actor/writer says, “Well, if the audience doesn’t get it, then fuck them.”  If you don’t care about what your audience thinks, then do it in your living room.  I feel the same way about online journals.  If you aren’t writing to please the people who come to read what you have to say, then you shouldn’t be putting it online.  You’re wasting everyone’s time.  Do it to entertain.  Do it to make them think.  Make them feel.  I was screaming for professional wrestling last night.  I would never in a million years have thought I would.  That’s what I liked about this show.  It made me do something I normally wouldn’t.  It showed me a different side.  The last time I watched wrestling I think I was like nine or ten and my sister and I would watch the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, or GLOW, as it was called.  It was like “Hee Haw” with a bit of wrestling.  I watched it for the sketches.  Yeah, I’ve pretty much always been an actor/comedian, even when I didn’t know it.

Now, even though I saw Chuy giving me the appreciative head-nod at my enthusiasm for the show last night, and I know somewhere my friend Douglas (who I believe did his anthropology masters thesis on Professional Wrestling in Mexico) is very excited that I had a good time, I don’t think this means I’ll be buying tickets to the WWF.  I wouldn’t like it if I was far away from the stage.  I wouldn’t want to learn the backstory.  I liked the dirtiness of it.  I liked the way it was thrown together in front of us.  I liked that it was as much of a spectacle as it could be for ten Austinites who got a gig at a bar backyard for a show.  I wouldn’t want to be a part of the big corporate show.  So, no, Chito, don’t be buying me any Undertaker dolls.  You just keep them.

If you live in Austin and you’d like to catch Blue High Machine, their final MOMFest performance is Sunday, October 3rd at Club De Ville at 11:00.  The entire night starts at 8, and it’s $10 for all four shows.  If you just want to catch Ray Prewitt’s Fourth Grade Class (to see the infamous Chuy and the ever-understanding Eric) and Blue High Machine, come by ten and it’s $5.  I know, I’m plugging my friends, but it was a lot of fun.

Last weekend for Polaroid Stories.  I’m going to miss this cast more than I’ve ever missed a cast before.

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