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September 06, 1991 - Image 13

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1991-09-06

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____Dl_-ARTS
Friday, September 6, 1991

Let it
slide
Mudhoney
churns out
tShe jams
by Annette Petruso
Ale: Do you think you're a real
metal band?
Mark Arm: No.
Me: How would you describe
yourself then?
Mark: Four young, fresh-faced
boys, ready to rock.
' Until this year and this album
(Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge),
Mudhoney had lots of hair, just like
most bands that make heavy metal,
hard rock, alternametal, etc. They
created thrash-inspired, slam 'til
you drop, sweaty air-guitar sounds,
all topped off by Arm's vocals. His
voice teeters on the edge of insanity
- an almost pubescent growl com-
plementing the crunch of power
chords, guaranteed to make you not
want to think.
But some things have changed.
Take the hair for instance. Three
of the four members have short hair
now. How can they thrash their
long tresses around if they have NO
HAIR?
Mark: We didn't cut it collec-
tively... but it just seemed like it
*was all done at the same time.
Because, you know, at one point we
all had long hair. Then I got my head
shaved kinda, and then Steve
(Turner, guitar, harmonica) cut his
hair and then Dan (Peters, drums)
cut his hair. Matt (Lukin, bass)
never did and then, like, by the time
we got over to England it all looked
like we just all cut it off the day be-
fore we flew out there or some-
thing. But actually our hair was
growing out.

Page 13
You'll laugh, cry:
they're not kidding
by Julie Komorn
What's in a name?
One evening back in 1986, some funny University men were sitting
around a table at the Brown Jug trying to think up a name for their newly-
formed travelling comedy troupe. Wanting a name which would imply
that they were a comedy team, our heroes finally chose Just Kidding, and,
for a touch of strangeness, they titled their first national tour Where's My
Thermos? And of course, they followed it up with last year's tour, Are
You Sure You Haven't Seen My Thermos?
This year's tour, We Are So Damn Lost, once again kicks off before the
group hits the rest of the U.S. "Ann Arbor is always a big show," says di-
rector Craig Neuman. "This year's diverse - with silly, absurd sketches
about college life and kindergarten, some where inanimate objects speak
and others where animate objects don't speak."
Producer Rob Marks says that the 20-sketch show (with many short
skits) is about laughter. The troupe has given much thought to getting the
best laughs, concentrating on quick timing between sketches to keep the the
air of humor constant. They promise "a giggle fest" and "a laugh riot," and
that "you'll laugh until you stop."
Just Kidding's comedy is presented in the form of paradoxical sketches.
"There is no improv, no stand-up," says Neuman. Marks describes it as
"slice of life humor." "We take something and twist it," he explains. One
example is a sketch which takes place in a college class where students
think their thoughts aloud. Sometimes Just Kidding combine two situa-
tions that normally do not go together, like kindergartners protesting for
their rights and picketing for more toys.
"We don't go for cheap laughs, usually," says Marks. "We're PG-13 at
worst, which is rare in comedy today. Anyone can go on stage and say 'shit.'
We try to stay clear of the cheap, stupid stuff. It's more intelligent humor
than you can find on HBO."
The troupe began with members of UAC's Comedy Company who
wanted to do their own thing. "It's a more efficient, tighter performance
(than the Comedy Company)," says Marks.
Although the producer and director are confident about the talents of
their performers, Just Kidding places its emphasis on writing. "We con-
sider ourselves a writer's group," says Marks. "A mediocre performer
can't ruin a good sketch. A lousy sketch is a lousy sketch." Keeping cos-
tumes and props to a minimum not only makes travelling easier, but also
allows the writing and acting to stand on its own.
Sketches are written by both the troupe and by former cast niembers
and are improved through group readings and communal input. Often lines
that are improvised during a rehearsal remain part of the final scene.
With a library of 100 sketches, the comedy team chooses about 20 to 25
for each show. They create different shows for different universities, per,
forming in venues varying from dining halls to bars. They gear their shows
toward certain audiences because they find different school audiences re-
spond differently. "There are different levels of what (the audiences will)
get," says Neuman. For example, the troupe might have to remove innuen-
dos from some sketches to avoid offending certain audiences. Once, at reli-
gious school in Walla Walla, Washington, they had to change a show half
way through because the audience was hissing.
Just Kidding has been going strong on the college market and they are
hoping to perform for cable television in the near future. Presently, they
perform mainly on the east coast, but they are thinking of implementing
another troupe out west. Perhaps travelling is starting to wear on Marks,
as he adds, "Another goal is to settle down and get our own place, like a
Second City, so people could come to see us."
JUST KIDDING will perform tonight at 8p.m. at The Power Center. Tick-
ets are $5S0 in advance, $6.50 at the door.

Mudhoney are sooo loud and grungy and cool, they're even worth the risk of going to Detroit and getting your
car jacked.

Me: Do you think your music
will lose anything by your not hav-
ing hair?
Mark: Oh yeah. Yeah, we're like
Samson.
Me: Is your strength now
sapped?
Mark: Yeah.
Me: Is your show way more bor-
ing?
Mark: Oh, it's way more boring.
I wouldn't even recommend going...
What's the point of going to see a
band if you can't see them wave
their hair around? Actually, when
we cut it off, we kept it and put it in
big bags, so now we can wave it over
our heads.
"Let it Slide," from EGBDF, is a

big hit in England, and Mudhoney
themselves are darlings of the
British press.
Mark: It's weird. We just got in
the Top Forties in England, like the
legitimate Top Forties, and that's
kind of weird. I don't get it. It's a
small country. They're all inbred.
E G BD F may have broken
through in England because of the
cool instrumental touches - Arm
playing organ on a couple of tracks
while Turner did some harmonica.
These noisemakers don't seem like
they should fit in with. the tradi-
tional Mudhoney guitar marathon,
but they add a melodic atmosphere.
Me: Why did you add organ and
harmonica to the new sound?

Mark: 'Cause it was there.
Me: Where was it?
Mark: Steve bought an organ for
twenty bucks at a thrift store and
knew how to play it kinda. Let me
see what else. We got a harmonica...
Me: Are you taking it on tour
with you?
Mark: No.
Me: So all the songs are going to
be stripped down?
Mark: I guess. It's not like
they're lush or anything.
Maybe this extravagance was in-
spired by their recording the album
on eight-track equipment instead of
the 24-track industry standard.
Mark: The eight-track came from
See MUDSLIDE, Page 18

Branagh and Thompson: a pair to die for

Dead Again
dir. Kenneth Branagh
by Jen Bilik
Dead Again, as a psycho-thriller in
the Hitchcock vein, works its
complicated and deceptively unpre-
dictable plot so successfully that
its disappointments glare amid its
self-constructed expectations. Af-
ter Henry V and Dead Again, there's
no disputing Kenneth Branagh's
wunderkind facility with film.
People may even stop snooting at
the fact that he wrote his first au-
tobiography at the age of 28.
But while Dead Again is pro-
digiously acted in its principle
roles, beautifully filmed, and poised
confidently on the edge of its own
seat, Branagh doesn't seem to have
been content with the impressive
merits of the story. Instead, he's

littered the screen with symbol
overload, while the dialogue usurps
the plot by repetitively and
explicitly outlining themes that
emerge on their own. While the plot
itself is anything but predictable,
the execution sometimes rings all
too familiar.
Assuming reincarnation's exis-
tence from the outset, Dead Again
weaves together two stories, past
and present. Private detective Mike
Church (Branagh) is compelled to
seek the identity of a winsome, doe-
eyed amnesiac called Grace (Emma
Thompson). Grace's nightmares and
regressions, which comprise about
half of the movie, follow a concert
pianist from the '40s, Margaret
Strauss, who is suspected to have
been brutally murdered by her con-
ductor/composer husband, Roman.
The Strausses are also played by
Thompson and Branagh. The first
two-thirds of Dead Again pale in

comparison with the ending because
Branagh tries to adorn a well-nar-
rated 50-year span with overly dra-
matic metaphor.
When Grace awakens from the
dream sequence that begins the
movie, she finds herself in a gothic
mansion housing a Catholic school
for boys. The inordinately large
crosses hanging from the nuns'
necks introduce, presumably, rein-
carnation's antagonism with Chris-
tianity, a theme that is gratuitously
included because it is never again
addressed. Instead, its ornamental
function is cloyingly baroque. Even
Madonna does it better.
After a priest thumbs to
Church's name in the yellow pages,
I groaned under the overly obvious
significance of his name, which is
why I could not believe that the
priest then commented to the nun,
"Mike Church - a name you can!
trust." The deftness of the plot is

overwhelmed both by conspicuous
redundancies such as these and by
motifs that crop up everywhere:
silent-H homages to previous
filmmakers (most notably Alfred
Hitchcock and Orson Welles),
antique furniture and art, masks,
treble clefs, and scissors, scissors,.
scissors, scissors.
Both Thompson and Branagh
contribute wonderfully convincing
performances, distinguishing be-
tween the two characters they each
play not only with accents (Roman
See DEAD, Page 20

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