In the summer of 2002, before the US government launched its full-scale invasion of Iraq, fifteen members of the variety show Tourettes Without Regrets staged a "Puke for Peace" protest at UC Berkeley. Clad in white shirts, black slacks, and black ties ("full-on Mormon suits," recalls the spoken-word poet Geoff Trenchard), toting three buckets and several gallons of milk, and waving signs with such slogans as "Don't Bomb Iraq, Drink Ipecac" and pictures of inflamed genitals in terribly advanced stages of various STDs, they copped a squat right at the lip of Sproul Plaza at Bancroft and Telegraph. While the others chanted, Trenchard, Tourettes founder Jamie Kennedy, and their friend Morgan chugged the milk and puked into the buckets. Tourettes is famous for such gross-out humor and vaudevillian pranks, which include, in Trenchard's words, "a whole parabola of inappropriate things," ranging from dead-baby-joke haiku to poets hurling pigs' hearts at each other, to anything involving fire or fluids. You wouldn't expect hundreds of East Bay hipsters to show up at the Oakland Metro on the first Thursday of every month just to let Trenchard and Kennedy coerce them into eating, drinking, or throwing something they wouldn't normally touch, but in the sixth year since its inception, Tourettes is consistently selling out. Faced with the decision of switching to a larger venue (albeit one that would still accept the pigs' hearts) or holding the show more often, the crew opted instead to put on more events intermittently: Big purse freestyle battles, hip-hop acts like Immortal Technique and Sage Francis, or spin-off variety shows that encompass the prank aspect of Tourettes.
Ergo, the What the Fuck?! Barely Legal Game Show, which has its inaugural this Thursday at the Oakland Metro (201 Broadway). In this prop-driven, stunt-heavy "royal rumble of retards," one side of the audience will compete against the other for drinks, glory, and a hundred presents from Santa. Game-show highlights include phone-sex bouts, a swimsuit competition, and a fucked-up version of The Price Is Right called The Price Is Tight, in which contestants guess the cost of random things like abortions. Also on the lineup is a "Choose Your Own Adventure" DVD directed and edited at breakneck speed by the members of Illbilly Productions, who brought you Kid Beyond's quirky "Maximum Wage" music video. According to Kennedy, there are other "very victorious" parts of the show that can't even be mentioned in the pages of the Express -- rest assured that it will be something like Stromboli's Pleasure Island in Pinocchio, but with girls. "In the end, everyone turns into a donkey," he says. The show starts at 8 p.m. and costs $7. -- Rachel Swan
Fusion footwork in P'ton
So, East and West walk into a bar, they order some Tsingtao and Tater Tots, and before you know it, there are red ribbons popping off the rafters and bodies flying everywhere. Okay, so as a joke, it doesn't really fly. But as a dance troupe -- say, SF's Lily Cai Chinese Dance Company -- it certainly does, and has for seventeen years. The group brings its fusion of the court dances of the Chinese dynasties and contemporary ballet and modern dance to Pleasanton's Amador Theater Saturday at 8 p.m. $10-$25, www.civicartstickets.org Stefanie Kalem
The story of John Walker Lindh, the much-condemned "American Taliban," remains one of the most provocative of the many sidebars to 9/11. Was Lindh a naive seeker of truth, a dedicated enemy of the American people, or something in between? Or all of the above? Lindh and his case are the subjects of a new play, Enemy Combatant, written and directed by Gary Graves for Berkeley's Central Works Theater Ensemble. It opens Saturday, February 19 (8 p.m.) and runs through March 26, at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave. Tickets ($8-$20 sliding scale) from 510-558-1381. For more information, visit CentralWorks.org -- Kelly Vance
Mom, I Was on NPR!
How much do we really want to know about the latest news? That's the question begged by National Public Radio's audience-participation "quiz show" performance, Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me! The show, either an NPR listener's dream come true or too much of a questionable thing, plays UC Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall Thursday night (8 p.m.), with NPR newsman Carl Kasell and host Peter Sagal tromping through the day's events -- the show will be broadcast nationally two days later. 510-642-9988 or CalPerfs.Berkeley.edu -- Kelly Vance
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