ZIP Beep #5

There is a bridge on the St. Lawrence Seaway that is stuck in a very bad position. It is up too far for cars to pass, but it is not high enough to allow ships to go through. Cargo owners are suing shipowners. Shipowners are suing seaway officials. Seaway officials are battling the elements in an attempt to fix the bridge.

CBC and ZIP Beep are is a similar position. The BBS system is in place. But it is understaffed. A lot of ideas are stuck in the flow. People who have committed time to following the progress of CBC are left waiting at the end of the electron stream.

The system is free, like the water in the St. Lawrence Seaway. But it takes people and money to move those ships, folks. Not to worry. The ships are moving, albeit a little slowly at times. The bridge is there, and no amount of bad weather is going to keep us from keeping it in operation.

Nobody ever thought about the bridges over the seaway until one of them broke down. Many others are still operating, and will continue to operate more efficiently as a result of the lessons learned from the one that got stuck. This is because people share knowledge.

CBC and the people responsible for ZIP Beep are helping each other to operate more efficiently. We are forging a new relationship that will give you a better ZIP Beep, a better CBC and a lot of ways to use your computer that you may have never considered before.

Bear with us. Grow with us. Tell your children that you helped to make telecommunications and telepublishing work back in the mid 80s.

Bear with us as we evolve. This medium offers promise, but it's confusing. Your comments and useful criticism are more valuable than gold.

Grow with us. Share your comments. Contribute your ideas ... anonymously, if you wish. Or take a chance on the open stage and try your hand at writing. It's hard to fail when you're doing something nobody has ever done before.

You are participating in the medium of the future. It will evolve into something that talks to you, orders your groceries, and brings you the latest newspaper on a tray with a cup of tea.

But this is the beginning. With all its rough edges, it's as exciting as anything just crawling out of the crib.

In the next few weeks, look for a newer and more responsive ComputerLine BBS (with a name that doesn't change every other fortnight). And look for a ZIP Beep that will make you glad you live in the Twin Cities. The first and best example of this is the 3-part interview with Dudley Riggs (of the Brave New Workshop) that begins this issue.

In an effort to improve some of the non-technical features of the ComputerLine BBS, ZIP Beep personnel will devote more effort to responding to your requests for a more lively system. To make this possible, new issues of ZIP Beep will now go on line at the end of the first week of every month. Watch for them. Respond to them. Respond to the rest of the ComputerLine BBS with your constructive criticism and comments. And don't be afraid to tell your computer-wise friends about CBC, ComputerLine's Radio Program, ComputerLine Sports, Tech Talk, ZIP Beep and the rest of the ComputerLine BBS features that are making your computer more useful, valuable, and fun.

ZIP Beep #5

You can't appreciate the humor of living in the Twin Cities without knowing something about Dudley Riggs.

The Brave New Workshop isn't just a Minneapolis institution. It is an indispensable part of the community. And it's probably the firmestt plank in the platform on which improvisational comedy is built.

Dudley Riggs' Brave New Workshop, which began (appropriately enough) as the Instant Theater Company in New York, is an institution in the sense that Bedlam is an institution. There is a certain amount of chaos that feeds it. If your are relatively unaware, you may not detect it when you visit the BNW Theater on Hennepin Avenue, or the Etc. on Washington. But it's there. It comes out after the main show. That's when the cast asks for suggestions from the audience.

The cast takes crazy ideas and makes them work. What does a chicken ranch have to do with Ed Meese? What threat is posed by a loaf of bread (before it becomes buttered toast, of course)? What's so funny about the latest newspaper?

You'll find out from the BNW, if you aren't afraid to ask.

ZIP Beep is for people who know how to ask questions when they sit down at the keyboard. Dudley Riggs' Brave New Workshop is for people who know how to give suggestions to actors. But let's let Dudley tell you about it, in the first of the 3-part interview that follows.

If you would like to receive more information on tickets and shows to Dudley Riggs' Brave New Workshop, leave a message on the Corkboard (HUMOR Catagory, BNW Subject), or leave your name and phone number with your request in the Suggestion Box, or call CBC during regular business hours at 332-5532.

ZIP Beep: When is your 26th and a half anniversary?

Dudley Riggs: Well, that all depends on how old I feel that particular day. There's no real merit in doing something for a long period of time other than to prove you're stubborn, I suppose. Initially when I came to Minneapolis, I would come to run a theater in the off season. So if you count those years, the great years toward the end of the Eisenhower administration, it goes back quite a ways -- pre-1960. But we didn't start doing something called the Brave New Workshop until 1961. At that time we had been running a theater in New York called the Instant Theater Company. I had been sort of put out of business in New York by red tape. Then I went to Chicago where I ran into severe financial problems. I tried two or three cities and I finally ended up in Minneapolis and said, "Aw, what the hell, I'll give it a try here." There was literally nothing going on in Minneapolis, Minnesota then.

Z: When was that?

D: Uh, 1956. When I was a child, we came through here on the vaudeville circuit playing the Orpheum Theater. My father had said to me, "Son, always remember: the two quietest weeks in show business are Christmas and Minneapolis." It happens that we played Minneapolis that year on Christmas week, and it was very quiet. That was right when movies started. So anyway, I've been coming here and working forever -- seemingly. But in terms of steady production, we've been going since around 1960, 61, something like that.

Z: So your 25th anniversary celebration was based on the time you came here in the 50s?

D: Actually, I'm not sure how they determined that. I think they took that from the date of the first enterprise I opened that was entirely my own. That would have been in 1958.

Z: What month was that?

D: October, I think. The passage of time is a little strange. Currently, we're working on 7 different productions. We have 4 different productions running in the theaters, and we're working on 3 others that will be running. And we work 52 weeks per year. Since the theaters are never closed, we do a show almost every day of the week. And when you have so much of that activity going on, eventually it all sort of becomes like one big show, or like one big year. And I don't really pay a heck of a lot of attention to the passage of time other than how it relates to productions.

Z: When you first came through here with your folks on the vaudeville circuit, what sort of act did they have? And how did they start?

D: Well, I'm a 5th generation circus performer-vaudevillian. My folks had probably half a dozen different areas of show business they could work. They were circus aerialists, but they were not confined to that. They were also good dancers and could do comedy sketches. And in that business, you were encouraged to have a 10 to 12 minute act. If you had a good, solid 12 minutes, and you played all the vaudeville possibilities, you could work steadily for 8 years. Now, in reality, that meant you could work 8 seasons, and the seasons were 28 weeks. But as soon as television came along, obviously people couldn't do the same act over and over again. When I was a child, we came in and I did a song and dance act with a tall, slender negro. It was a sympathy act of the period. You put black tap dancers and little children together on the stage, and people would say "Isn't that cute!"

Z: What did you sing?

D: Me and my shadow, of course.

Z: Of course.

D: When I was 7 years old, we did the Palace in New York. So we were working the big circuit. That would give us about half a year's work, and the circus would give us the other half. That left maybe a couple of weeks off. And no time to go to school. So, I didn't. It's interesting to see how in the 50s there were a lot of movie theaters with stage shows. So you get an hour of stage show, plus a movie, for a relatively small admission fee. And they were usually large auditoriums. The Orpheum and State were like that. And I think there were a couple of others. There was also a burlesque house here that we played which is now the Academy. So between those 2 or 3 kinds of bookings, and the Shrine Circus, you might be in Minneapolis as much as 3 or 4 times per year. Since we tended to not go much farther west than here, we would do the eastern seaboard and end up at the Bijou Theater in Winnipeg. Somewhere in the 50s, those theaters were pretty much killed off by TV. Many became straight movie theaters. Many became evangelistic born again auditoriums. As I said, my folks could do comedy sketch work, so the comedy sketch work of the Brave New Workshop really comes right out of the old vaudeville tradition.

Z: So that's how the Brave New Workshop started?

D: Well, when the Instant Theater Company started, it was made up primarily of people who came from that tradition.

Z: Do you remember the subject of the first Instant Theater Company show?

D: Uh, I recall that we did what would be called a "production act" in which all of the actors were also acrobats to some extent. It was kind of like a little crazy house arrangement with a trunk on the stage. And all of the characters came out of the one trunk, which gave you a sort of mini version of the clown car. The trunk set so you could lift the lid and you'd have a fully set table with dinner and candle light and wine and so forth. Somewhere, we started asking for audience suggestions, then we would do them. I think it was in Chicago.

NEXT ISSUE: Part II of ZIP Beep's interview with Dudley Riggs.

ZIP Beep #5

We have a winner! No more calls, please!!!

Geeze ... Youse guys about bowled us over with your entries in the Old Fool Contest. We got 2 entries from CBC personnel and 2 from our regular readers!

Okay. So maybe the prize wasn't good enough. So maybe one measly floppy disk wasn't enough to turn your transistors.

Or maybe you just don't like to write anything that can't be translated into a puzzle.

Well, we'll see. What if the prize were a modem, or software, or a free trip to Wallyworld? Would you respond better? We know you're reading ZIP Beep, because our files show your requests (anonymously, of course). Do you want to win something more valuable than a lousy floppy? Let us know. Ve haff vays uf vorking zees sings out.

Uh-oh. The beer's full of tears. Time to announce the winner.

Jim Reider has put his name on the electronic map. His favorite old fool can be seen on the Corkboard (run a Search in the HUMOR category to read it). Jim, the world may not be your oyster, but you're good for almost 200K. Stop by CBC's offices, or get in touch with us for delivery of your fantastic prize (a floppy disk -- mentioned here again because we know it's so forgettable).

Now, as for the rest of you lugs ... get on the stick! What do you want, blood? Let us know. Finseth has a good connection with the Twin Cities Medical Associations, and he can probably come through.

Leave your comments on the Corkboard, HUMOR Catagory, ZIP Beep subject. Or leave anonymous suggestions (please, no name calling -- it only makes you look stupid) in the suggestion box when you hang up.

Yours in Bob---->CS

ZIP Beep #5


Here are some items from Publicity Releases that reached us through our branch in the antimatter dimension. Things are a little bit different there, but only a little bit.

Williams Pipeline has merged with Central States Waterproofing. Dr. Bill Lone has been named General Manager of the firm, now known as Bill's Pipe Company. A series of TV ads are scheduled to break later this year built around a "Let's pipe each other" tagline.

HMO, Inc., has merged with Groanfellow Brothers Mortuary. No further information is available.

The CIA has announced plans to investigate the FBI. The FBI claims it has been investigating the CIA since the 60s.

Konstantin Cherenko and David Byrne of the Talking Heads will avoid duplicating efforts in 1985. Both will use the same tailor.

Mike Reagan, Billy Carter and Donald Nixon have announce plans to open a chain of storefronts that will sell helicopter petroleum and provide family counseling. The new venture is being funded by MOHIMARCO of Lybia.

President Reagan said the missiles that were reportedly launched toward Russia earlier today were made in the USSR. "They weren't really launched," he said, "they were recalled when defective parts were discovered."

A railroad car loaded with nuclear waste spilled much of its contents when it collided with another carrying Cabbage Patch Dolls. The accident occured south of Inver Grove Heights this morning. Dolls have reportedly mutated into very ugly young boys and girls, grown tremendously, and are now now making their way toward the Cities. The National Guard has been notified.

With the successful breakup of Bell Telephone Company, many other huge organzations are planning to follow suit. Among the most noteworthy: IDS will place sections of its now-dominant building around the metro area to raise its profile in city neighborhoods ... the municipality of Lake Minnetonka will drain Lake Minnetonka and sell the land to developers ... IBM will get out of the computer industry, sell the first letter of its name to an optical firm, and form a laxative corporation with the tail end of its famous logo.

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