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March 11, 1993 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 1993-03-11

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Page 4-The Michigan Daily-Weekend etc.--March 11, 1993

Gaining wisdom
through teeth

I was sitting in a foreign room, tears
streaming down my face (though I didn't
know why) with only one thought in my
mind: get some hospital pants. There
were piles of them, in green and blue
colors, and they were mine for the tak-
ing. I checked the room for nurses.
Finding none, I hastily stuffed several
pairs down the front of my jeans.
These are not the actions of a chronic
kleptomaniac, but of a recent victim of
the surgery that marks the rite of pas-
sage into adulthood: wisdom tooth ex-
traction.
Appropriately enough, I did not ex-

The only problem was that the
Valium didn't seem to wear off, and I
was crying my eyes out (though I didn't
know why) for almost an hour. And I
was stealing everything in sight.
Because of these complications,
nurses were scrambling around the oral
surgery department, trying to find me a
doctor, and trying to findmea trash can.
One nurse stowed me away in a recov-
ery room, took my blood pressure and
gave me a box of Kleenex. That's when
I saw the pants.
This was not the first time I had an
out-of-body experience coming off the
operating table. When I was 14, my
orthodontist told me I had to have a
wisdom tooth pulled in order to get
braces (the right of passage for all ado-
lescents). I visited Dr. Phillip Ross, a
skilled oral surgeon and anesthesiolo'
gistwhopracticed in aWashingtonD.C.
suburb.
I came out with a lot more than
hospitalpants. Igot a date. Idon'tknow
exactly how Ipicked her up. Ijustknow.
that when I regained consciousness, my
mouth was packed with soiled gauze
pads, my head was still numb from my
Valium trip and I was in the process of
wooing a 35-year old woman, also on
Valium. Unfortunately for my 14-year
old libido, our attraction seemed towear
off along with the drug.
This operation taught me a great
deal. First, I learned that doctors actu-
ally use a hammer and a chisel in order

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perience this hallmark event at home
under the gaze of a concerned and com-
passionate mother. Instead, I was es-
corted by my harried ex-girlfriend to the
University of Michigan School of Den-
tistry. There, in a building said to be
shaped like a molar, the University's
finest young dental students and doc-
tors-in-training treat Ann Arbor resi-
dents who would prefer not to pay
through the nose for intense suffering in
the mouth. But, the medical wonders of
intravenous anesthetic had rendered
such procedures safe and painless, or so
I was told.

IY i

to break up an impacted molar. I also
learned that you have to pay them about
$1,500 to do this.
Six years later, when my dental hy-
gienist scolded me for procrastinating
so long (I should havehad them outtwo
summers ago) I was determined to shop
around.It paid off. I soon found that the
university's School of Dentistry would
conduct the operation at bargain-base-
ment prices: $108 a pop. With only
three teeth to go, plus I.V. sedation, the
whole operation would cost less than
$400.
Of course, there was a catch. These
weren't real doctors, but residents. The
future doctors of America. The teach-
ing assistants of the medical profes-
sion. As someone who is uneasy about
letting anyone without a complete rep-
ertoire of World War IIstories cut my
hair, Iwas understandably nervous about
allowing Doogie Howser to make me
his next science project.
The idea bothered me a bit from the
start. While it's true that the dashing
young doctor has been elevated to great
proportionsinAmerican society, I would
have preferred someone with a more
traditional doctorjersona. A diminu-
tive Jew, like my grandfather, with a set
of Popeye forearms built up from years
of surgery; or a graying Indian man
with an Oxford accent (unless "Indian

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doctor" is a redundant phrase) would
have felt far more comfortable. But I
was going to get a resident. A person
aspiring to be a doctor.
My worst fears were confirmed when
I noticed puffed lips give way toa forced,
metallic smile on the face of the young
woman conducting my preliminary ex-
amination. She wore braces.
This came as a bit of a shock. Even
I had conquered braces. My baby teeth
had come and gone. I had been through
braces, retainers, and even the special
adult fluoride treatment (though this
still came in bubble gum flavor). I had
been through hours of waits in dentist's
office. lounges (where I had skimmed
through dozens of copies of Highlights
Magazine and National Geographic) and
countless interminable lectures from
dental floss zealots (long before they
wore rubber gloves). I was ready to
move on. From here on out, it was tooth
decay and gum disease.
Now, as a young adult, I had reached
a new milestone: wisdom teeth. And
they are called wisdom teeth with good
reason. For many of us, getting them out
marks the last barrier to adulthood. It is
a miserable experience that every adult
shares. And any group of them can swap
war stories about their experience. For
some people, it is the last time their
parents will foot the bill for an opera-
tion. For me, it was the first time I had
entered a hospital without my mother. It
is the circumcision of young adulthood.
And I was about to let a choir boy make
the cut.
Serving as a guinea pig for the group
of residents who were preparing me for
the operation didn't help either. One of
them was lectured by his colleague when
he improperly hooked up a pulse moni-
tor to my finger. At first this device
beeped regularly and displayedmy pulse
on a screen. But soon the beeps merged
to a low monotone, which, I am told,
means you are dead. At the same time,
See EARLE, p. 8

Comedians play
the Improv.Game
by Melissa Rose Bernardo
"Welcome to our lecture series. Today's lecturer is Melissa Rose Bernardo, and
she's here to talk to you about writing for the Michigan Daily. But before she
comes out there are a few things you need to know about Melissa Melissa's a
compulsive nose picker; Melissa's schizophrenic; and Melissa is a professional
wrestler."
If you were me, would you be offended? This is an example of an "improv
game"-just one of the ways that Comedy Company chooses its actors. Director
Bill Lome explained that for the group, comedy is a very serious business.
Actors go through an audition process which includes improvisation exer-
cises, scene work and monologues. Lome feels that they face certain challenges
in being part of a comedy show.
Since the show is comprised of about 15 sketches, and the cast consists of 10
actors, one actor plays numerous roles. "They play seven or eight different five-
minute roles, so it'sa challenge in that instead of perfecting just one character, they
have to perfect seven," Lome said.
Additionally, the cast is chosen before most of the show is even written. "It's
not like being cast in another show where they're given their part; in their improvs
they dictate parts for themselves that are going to be in the show. They'actually
accept a part in the show without having any parts written," Lome explained. The
sketches come from submissions from independent writers or from the company's
own "skimprov rehearsals," in which actors improvise on an idea while writers
take notes and write sketches based on those notes.
Comedy Company was not always so structured. At one point;they were "The
Sunday Funnies"--a group of struggling sketch writers with a thirst for comedy,
doing their schtick in places like the U Club or the Union Ballroom. Today they
are under the blanket of the University Activities Center, and are right up therewith
MUSKET and SophShow.
"We really have grown," Lome agreed. "It used to be done with a piano player
that played between sketches and there was a black curtain that they acted in front
of; this year we've got this great massive set with lots of different levels and
platforms and colorful flats in the background instead of the black curtain."
Comedy Company even employs video in their show to keep in tune with the
electronic age.
Some people may believe that Comedy Company is a separate entity from
"theater," but Lome disagrees: "For Comedy Company, there used to be a
separation of the two- that Comedy Company was done by standup comedians,
and actors went on and did theater shows through the theater school." Lome
continued to emphasize the similarities between Comedy Company and so-called
"real theater": "We rehearse the sketches as if they weren't comedy. Once the
actors get ascript, they rehearse their script and they learn their lines andthey work
on their motivation and their staging." Of course, the structure of Comedy
Company's show separates it from a drama - a drama contains 40-minute
movements, and Comedy Company contains regularly small five to six-minute
pieces. Lome calls it "accelerated drama."
Lome draws on his own theatrical training and does a lot of character
development work with the cast so that they can perform as multiple characters.
"I just pull certain aspects of the characters and pool them together to create a
character that's not what they're normally like," he explained.
The cast as a whole, he feels, has responded very well to his direction. Six of
them are veterans of Comedy Company, and all have previous stage experience.
"I just point them in the right direction and they sort of do it themselves," he said.
How does Lome keep that one ham from stealing the show? "I get a ball and
chain and tie it to his ankle so he can'tmove," he joked, "And if that doesn't work
I whip them," he said with mock seriousness. "Seriously, there are no stars;
everyone is in it equally, and the actors have really taken that to heart."
Lome sees the whole show as an "ensemble effort," involving the cast, the
writers; the producers and himself. "Even though I'm the director of the show and
I guess would be then the 'creative head' ... the show came out of the ensemble
process," he said.
Comedy Company may have gotten bigger, but their goal has not changed-
entertainment, simply put. Lomeasked, "Imean, everybody likes to laugh, right?"
COMEDY COMPANY'S SPRING BIG SHOW will be pefortmd March 11-13
at Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre. Tickets are $5 at the door or at the Union
Ticket Office. Call 3-TKTS.
Write for Art
For info about music, books, fine arts and
theater staffs, call 763-0379

40

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