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September 07, 1990 - Image 15

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The Michigan Daily, 1990-09-07

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ARTS
Friday, September 7, 1990

The Michigan Daily

Page 15,

Bernhard sings, swings and stings

Tour news (a)rises
from the Dead

y 4.
xf

Without You I'm Nothing
dir. John Boskovich I
by Brent Edwards
4 nyone who's seen Sandra Bern-
ard on talk shows will know that
she is as outrageous as they come.
No one has startled David Letterman
nor made Arsenio Hall squirm as
much as she has. Her personality ex-
tends 10 feet beyond her body and
her audaciousness goes even further.
These factors are part of the reason
that her one-woman off-Broadway'
show was such a success.Without
Wou I'm Nothing, the film version of
er show, pushes the borders of just
how far she will go even further.
Bernhard mixes monologue, song
and dance in a cabaret style and gives
us a kaleidoscope of personalities.
We see a teenage version of her as if
she had been Gentile ("I wish you
weren't my brother so I could fuck
you"), a tacky lounge singer, a style-
conscious secretary, a trendy New
Work socialite and a '60s beat poet.
The monologues are not stand-up
comedy routines found in other co-
i4edians' stage films such as Eddie
furphy's or Robin Williams'; they
,are a cavalcade of characters, each
pfoviding Bernhard's own comments
"lbout various aspects of society.
&ruch of the material is a mixture of
the serious with the comedic, such
an apology she gives to a betrayed
Mver which turns" into a tirade of
complaints. Her portrayal of a Black
lounge singer is truer and subtler
than the annoying lounge singers on
Saturday Night Live and far more in-
f teresting. She even makes fun of a
famous friend by having her acts in-
terrupted by a garish Madonna-like
character named Shoshanna.
Probably the most surprising
;aspect of this film is the amount of
'singing Bernhard does and does well.
She sings 10 songs in all, spanning
the genres with "Me and Mrs.
Jones," "Do You Wanna Funk," a
K: a th
by Elizabeth Lenhard
'H i Mom, guess what? I've de-
eided to take a year off of school,
travel around the country in a van
oapd be a comedian! Mom, Mom,
*aon't cry, I'm Just Kidding." What
this comedian's mother doesn't real-
tze is that he's completely serious,
and that Just Kidding, the comedy
*troupe performing this Saturday at
the Power Center, is a talented and
diverse group that is quickly becom-
ing a regular Ann Arbor favorite.
Just Kidding, made up of six cast
members who are all previous stu-
dents at the University, is back again
by popular demand. They promote
their group as "the alternative to
stand-up comedy." Those who saw
them perform here last year probably
:khow that, although the group
*sfarted in Ann Arbor (the founders
a~d many members of the cast were
involved in UAC's Comedy Com-
pany), you don't have to be a Uni-
versity student, or even a college
student, to appreciate their humor.
Just Kidding doesn't, have a set
theme or a social message. What

they have is a lot of fun.
Just Kidding was founded a little
over a year ago as a touring comedy
.troupe. They traveled almost exclu-
sively to college campuses and have
aCcomplished great success during
tieir short existence, achieving the
goals they set for themselves, said
kproducer Rob Marks. For their '90-
k'01 season, the troupe has been
called back to almost all of the
places where they held performances
last year, and their expansion enabled
jthem to join a promotional agency.
Eighty shows are in the plans for
this season.
This year's show promises about
Quotes of the Day
"If you can't take a joke, don't be
one."-Dan Murphy, guitarist for
Soul Asylum
"Everybody knows that you've
been faithful/ give or take a night or
twn r - . rti nh-ati .nr

balladic "Little Red Corvette" and
Nina Simone's "Four Women." The
songs, of course, each relate to the
character Bernhard portrays when she
singsthem, although she does
somehow manage to mix a Hank
Williams tune with talk of Andy
Warhol (which one might argue is a
little Warholesque itself). Dressed for
the persona in each song - as Diana
Ross for "Ain't No Mountain
Higher" and in full African garb for
"Four Women" - the songs are pre-
sented with full cabaret effect, right
down to the dancing beefcakes during
the disco "song" "Mighty Real."
As with most stage shows that
are made into films, there are several
changes made to the show to take
advantage of the film medium; none
of which work here. The setting
takes place after Bernhard's phenom-
enal success with her off-Broadway
show as she goes back to her profes-
sional roots in Los Angeles. Her act
is set in a dinner-club with a primar-
ily Black audience that is totally un-
responsive to everything she does.
This provides an eerie, somber un-
dertone. Every now and then Bern-
hard's agent or an actor friend ap-
pears interview-style (A la Reds and
...When Harry Met Sally) to tell
something about Bernhard during her
New York run. Also, the film fre-
quently cuts from Bernhard's show
to a young Black woman who is do-
ing such activities like reading phi-
losophy or performing a chemistry
experiment. All of these distract
from her show and add little to the
film except wasted time. Some of
the directing is innovative if self-
conscious and, as Jonathon Demme
did with Swimming to Cambodia, di-
rector John Boskovich shows that
you can film a one-person show to
be more interesting than My Dinner
With Andre.
As for Bernhard's outrageousness,
there are plenty of reasons why not
to go to this film with your grand-
parents; she shocks the audience as a
way of challenging our social mores

by Brian Jarvinen

On July 26 Brent Mydland, keyboard player for the Grateful Dead, wa .
found dead in his suburban San Francisco home. Eventually, toxicology,
reports indicated that he died after ingesting a combination of cocaine anl,
morphine. Brent was the fourth person to play the instrument for the Dead;
previous members Ron "PigPen" McKernan and Keith Godchaux died in,
the '70s, Tom Constanten, who left the band early in their career, still
plays piano in the San Francisco area. Brent blah blah blah - enough
with the depressing details!
Immediately after Brent's death numerous rumors about who would
play keyboards began circulating wildly; just about every keyboardist who"
had any sort of connection to San Francisco rock was rumored to have the
job. Bruce Hornsby, one of the most heavily discussed possibilities, will
be sitting in with the band on selected dates of this fall tour in.'
Philadelphia and New York and possibly in Europe during the month of
October as well. However, Hornsby has some dates of his own with his
band the Range this month, and will not be a permanent member of the
band. Got it?
In the month of August the band auditioned six different potential
members; many had the instrumental prowess to play with the Dead bur
the band stipulated that an ability to sing high harmony vocals was a
must. Eventually, they settled on Vince Welnick, ex-piano player in the
Tubes, who has been playing in Todd Rundgren's band of late. Welnick-
reports having seen the Dead in the '60s but being unfamiliar with their'
more recent material. At shows with Hornsby both men will be on stage
behind the keys. Welnick has naturally been rehearsing heavily with the
band in their studios - in interviews with the San Francisco newspaper
Dead drummer Mickey Hart quipped "He's learned 30 songs so far - only
100 to go!" The fact that Welnick will have to be learning so much
material leads me to hope for some more tunes being pulled out of the
Dead's vast back catalog of original and cover songs.
The Grateful Dead will continue their long strange bus ride through our
culture tonight at the Richfield Coliseum, former home of World B. Free
and still the home of the Cleveland Cavaliers, in Richfield Ohio. Of
course, as the band will play their first show since the tragic events of July
an emotional concert is expected. Tonight and tomorrow night's concert
sold out in about two hours a few weeks ago and no tickets are available
tonight. The band asks anyone without a ticket to stay at home as at most
of their shows in recent years, thousands of ticket-less people have arrived
anyway, creating numerous problems. If you can't stand to be away from
the Deadhead family for this historic show, remember that hundreds of
people with counterfeit tickets have been turned away at recent concerts (at
Tinley Park in July one person was busted printing tickets right in the
parking lot). In short, if you don't already have a ticket your odds of
scoring one that will get you into the show are slim. As Mickey says in a
letter sent out with the mail-order tickets, "just hanging out causes
unbelievable harm." see DEAD, page 17

Sandra Bernhard makes the transition from stage to screen and it seems
she has also stopped dressing as Madonna's twin - at least for now.

and expectations. Those who support
an amendment to ban flag-burning
should not stay for the final five
minutes when she dances to Mr.
Lovesexy wearing nothing but an
American flag for a g-string. It's

pointless, but it's bold, reckless and
audacious, and that's what Sandra
Bernhard's all about.
WITHOUT YOU I'M NOTHING is
showing at the Michigan Theater

ermos of

laughs

Admittedly, this is a pretty weird
week for most of us: new housing
(even if you live in the same place
you have always lived in, it seems
different), new food, new air and
new people. As the Wright joke
goes, it looks like everything's been
replaced with its identical twin. But
did you know that this has tradition-
ally been Surrealism Week? In its
honor there's a veritable slew of
surrealistic films this weekend, to
take your mind off of the pressures
of having to adjust to steak kow and
paper with three holes on the left.
First up, there's Death Race
2000 telling the story of a group of
devoted motorists in a cross-country
race where the winner is not only de-
termined by who gets to the finish
line first, but also by who manages
to kill as many people as possible.
Though a decade ahead of its time
(1975), it's still an unsubtle rip on
our automobile-obsessed society.
What's especially surreal about it?
Sylvester Stallone, back when he
had less muscles and more personal-
ity, is in it.
There's also a double feature of
surreal films, part of a triple feature
of French New Wave work. Though
not the best work produced by that
group of filmmakers, Last Year at
Marienbad and Alphaville are both
pretty good films, with the former,
written by Alain Resnais, being a
rather pretentious, opaque romp into

time. It's basically a very dreamlike
scenario about a nameless man and
woman who may or may not have
had an affair. Though well-shot and
scripted it hasn't dated very well
("modern" surrealism has quite a
harder edge to it), but is still consid-
ered a film classic. Jean-Luc Go-
dard's Alphaville is a more serious
social commentary and, surprisingly
for Godard, has a pretty coherent plot
about a cop in a cold, urban, anti-
utopian future..,
The third film on Friday is a re-
turn engagement (after being held
over at the Michigan twice already)
of Peter Greenaway's masterpiece
The Cook, The Thief,'His Wife, and
Her Lover. Basically this is an in-
tense conflation of politics, violence
and French food which manages to
comment about modern capitalistic
brutality while presenting incredibly
beautiful (and simultaneously horri-
ble) images. It's definitely worth
seeing.
Saturday brings a mismatched
(but perfect for Surrealism Week)
double feature of animation from the
Film Co-op: A Man Called Flint-
stone and Jan Svenkmajir's Alice.
The first is a feature film from those
wacky '60s that stars Fred as a secret
agent (with lots of surrealistically
animal-operated gadgets) in a send-up
of all of those stupid spy films. Al-
ice is nothing like Flintstone. It's a
horrific adaptation of Alice in Won-

derland by one of the world's fore-
most animators and - other than a
couple of live-action-scenes with the
Big Alice - it mostly consists of
pixilated real-life objects. Svenkmei-
jer, like David Lynch, is concerned
with the grimy underside of reality,
but unlike Lynch's disfigured carica-
tures, Svenkmeijer takes everything
pretty literally. His characters are
created with animal bones, meat and
decaying wood and the world they
live in consists of rusting knives and
bottled animal parts. Visually strik-
ing, especially in the Alice in Won-
derland context, the film is a hellish:
trip through a bitter world.
So get out of the house this
weekend (the homework's not im-
portant this early in the semester
anyway), put your ears where your
eyes normally are and take another:
look at the reality we're in. Maybe,
when you get back, life here will
look a whole lot better.
Friday:
Death Race 2000 Aud A 8:45
Last Year at Marienbac MLB3,
7 p.m.
Alphaville MLB3 8:45
The Cook, The Thief, His Wife,
and Her Lover Mich 11:15
A Man Called Flintstone MLB3,
7:00 & 10:15
Alice MLB3 8:45
-Mike Kuniavsky;

The Just Kidding comedy squad returns to hang out in Ann Arbor for one
show. Maybe they'll run into Tad and his saw.

20 new sketches, all of which were
written by the troupe, as well as
some of the old favorites. The show
will include repeats of "Nuts," a
view of the Peanuts gang during a
hormone-flooded adolescent party,
and "Quite a Relief," a personal'
glimpse at a public restroom scene.
Actor/director Craig Neuman has
also been toning his physique to
bring back the popular "Dawn of
Man" sketch. "I've been drinking
about a six-pack a day," he says. It's
a tough regimen but, as all cast
members agree, they'll do anything
for the sake of the show.
And they're not kidding about
that. Besides rehearsing together,
traveling in one van, and staying in
hotels together, all the members of
the group live together. They moved
to a house in Washington D.C. in
August, where they are now based.
This, Marks assured, only helps
boost their success. They have suc-
ceeded thus far in not killing each
other, and from the togetherness, the
group members say, evolves chem-
istry and mutual respect - two ele-
ments that can make or break a com-
edy troupe. The group takes pride in
not considering themselves "actors,"
.n, :.nc lnt-A ntnnha kn.: o

year's tour with their Ann Arbor
show on Saturday. "It feels good to
be back in Ann Arbor where a lot of
people recognize us," says cast
member Kristin Sobditch. The group
is very excited about this year's new
repertoire and looks forward to Ann
Arbor's reaction to the off-beat hu-
mor of the "Are You Sure You
Haven't Seen My Thermos?" tour.
And if your view of their work shies
a few points below adoration, "Don't
worry," says Neuman, "whatever we
do, we're Just Kidding."
The troupe will be back at the
Power Center, Saturday, Septem-
ber 8 at 8 p.m. Tickets are available
at the Michigan Union Ticket Of-
fice - $5 for students, $8 for non-
students, or $6/$9 at the door. For
more information, call MUTO at
763-8587.
DO YOU...
/specialize in word
processing
/run a test preparation

Prince
Graffiti Bridge
Paisley Park
On this, the Great Deceiver's
third double album, Prince summa-
rizes a theme that's run throughout
the entire length of his career. At the
same time, he does a much more
comprehensive album than usual;
probably the closest he'll ever get to
what his critics want from him. The
musical doodles that comprised Sign
o' the Times, earning Prince the crit-
icism of a rambling genius, have

in the interim, his "great statement"
remained a thing of the imagination.
Perhaps this album will put the is-
sue to rest.
Graffiti Bridge is a careful ex-
ercise in eclecticism from beginning
to end, with Prince often playing the
back while his label-mates, George
Clinton, The Time and Mavis Sta-
ples do the do. Opening with the ex-
uberant "Can't Stop This Feeling I
Got," he does a sort of neo-"Play in
the Sunshine" retread. He then fol-
lows this up with "New Power Gen-

way is you/ your old-fashioned mu-
sic, your old ideas/ we're sick and
tired of your tellin' us what to do."
Probably the biggest drawback to
Prince as his career continued would
be, to state a clich6, his in-
consistency. As his music gradually
became less accessible and pre-
dictable, Prince'slyrics gradually be-
came more ethereal. As his themes
bowed deeper into the ambiguity of
psychedelia, Prince lost the leader
mantle that helmed Controversy.
"New Power Generation,

f

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