ZIP Beep #6 - 1/4/85
Ten 10 Whatever List List For 1984
1. Ten best ways to separate Calvin Griffith and the Twins.
2. Ten most visionary/crazy ideas Rudy Perpich had for improving
3. Ten best reasons to avoid MTV.
4. Ten top computer products that never quite delivered.
5. Ten fans who supported Les Steckle at the end of the season.
6. Ten fans who expected Bud Grant to be named Head Coach for
7. Ten most disgusting things to say to an answer machine.
8. Ten most self-righteous remarks made by Rev. Peters and Rev.
Peters, St. Paul's most famous religious sophomores.
9. Ten Minnesotans who, for more than ten minutes, actually
expected Fritz Mondale to win.
10. Ten most vacant new office buildings in downtown
ZIP Beep #6
Personality Robots Test Marketed With Disappointing Results
If you weren't on Mars, you know the Craze this Christmas was
the robot. Never mind that most are little more than remote
control jeeps disguised as metal men.
One enterprising group came out with a new type of robot you'll
almost certainly see again. But before many Personality Robots
make it to the market, a few bugs have to be worked out.
The idea behind Personality Robots is a natural: market robots
that resemble different well-known people.
Unfortunately, none of the people who purchased them could cope
with their Personality Robots.
Mrs. John Krosnek of Golden Valley thought the Les Steckle robot
would make a wonderful gift for her husband, an avid Vikings fan.
"But John couldn't even get it to bring him a beer. It would
tell him he was too fat, call him disloyal, force him to do
pushups, and roll around the house shouting 'I am Iron Man! I am
Iron Man!' It was awful!"
Andy Flambau is studying Political Science at the University of
Minnesota. His mother thought the Ed Meese robot would be
helpful. "But I'm bringing it back because it's making life a
living hell for all of us," she said. "Every time I see it, the
thing asks me for a loan. I tried to help it out at first, but
then I found out it's been hitting on everybody I know. And
what's worse, it promised cabinet posts to the rest of the
family, but all I got was an appointment to the Dog Catcher's
Board. Now my family thinks they're all better than me. I
bought the damn thing, and that's how it treats me. Well, I
don't have to stand for that!"
Altogether, 25 Personality Robots were test marketed. All 25
The Tip O'Neill robot rolled over everything in its way at the
Norman Bean home in Edina, then devoured the entire Christmas
dinner and the family dog before they could turn it off. Ralph
Lanch of Fridley was pleased when his Raymond Donnavan robot
volunteered to fix his front step, but his son overheard the
robot agree to pay twice the going rate for lumber in exchange
for a couple of free grease jobs.
So it looks like we'll have to settle with Michael Jackson dolls
and Greta Bearbo teddy bears for a while. The Personality Robot
may have a future, but it isn't here yet.
ZIP Beep #6
New Motion Picture Codes
The motion picture rating code was created when forces outside
the industry threatened to legislate public standards.
The codes are useful. We know, for example, that G and X
almost certainly indicate a box office bomb. R locks out anybody
under 17 that doesn't attend movies in large metropolitan inner
cities. A PG movie can scare the bejesus out of small children
as long as they don't see any naughty parts.
Now there's PG-13. This is like PG, only more so. A PG movie
could show a man's head drop to the floor after it was severed.
A PG-13 movie could show blood spurting from his neck.
Obviously, the future belongs to variations on PG.
ZIP Beep has learned of several other movie codes that are being
considered. Here they are for your assessment:
PG-PR -- Prince movie. Anybody admitted in Minneapolis.
PG-177 -- Anyone over 177 admitted free and given a lifetime
pass to the theater.
PG-K9 -- Dogs admitted.
PG-PG -- Pregnant women only.
PG-TV -- Don't bother. Wait for it to come out on television.
PG-GP -- You must be a General Practitioner of medicine to see a
movie with this rating.
PG-TOP13 -- Only the first 13 people into the theater will be
admitted to these movies. The rest will be forced to watch "Yes,
ZIP Beep #6
Dudley Riggs Interview - Part II
Dudley Riggs trells us more about the early days of improv
comedy in this second part of ZIP Beep's three-part interview.
Part One is in ZIP Beep #5. To read it, enter "Z20" at the
Z: Do you remember the name of the club in Chicago where you
first started asking for audience suggestons?
D: I think it was Chez Paree. We ended up with a show that we
took to Europe. And when we came back, we found ourselves in New
York with no immediate dates. At that time, it was my father and
my uncle and myself, plus my uncle's wife and three other hired
people. One of them was a man named Paul BeJano. He was a dwarf
circus clown, very funny, and he came back some day and said,
"We've got to find some place to work. We've got the act and no
place to work it." There were no bookings around. Everybody was
staying home watching TV. At that time Lindey's restaurant in
New York was where comics and actors would hang out. Up in the
next block from the place was Jack Dempsey's. It had the same
identical look, but the upstairs had been a dance studio. And it
was for rent. Now, BeJano was a real talker. He rented it for
what was a monsterous amount of money, even in those days. He
came back and said, "Okay, if you guys want to do a show, we can
do it there. During the day, I want to teach acrobatic dancing
and try to make a little money this winter." We were sitting
there with a long winter ahead of us and we didn't have work
coming until April when the Ringling Circus opened. So we put
the show in there. "New York, New York," which was a Comden &
Green song, was popular then. It had a line that went "the Bronx
is up and the Battery's down." We wanted to have the up part, so
we wrote a parody song that included a line that said "the
Instant Theater's up" in Time Square. And so critics came and
said, "Well, we can't review it because it's not really theater."
But eventually some of them did. So we started doing business
hand over fist. April came and the show was ready to go out on
the road, but we decided not to do that. So we canceled our
contract for the circus and stayed there all through the spring
and summer months. When the tourist season hit, we were having a
grand time. Somewhere around the fall of the year, some Powers
That Be passed a new law that said all off off Broadway theaters
had to conform to certain rules. Even if they were storefronts
or theaters or whatever. So, for the purposes of putting us out
of business, we suddenly became a theater. People perceived that
the on Broadway theaters were being damaged by the competition.
So they closed something like 50 theaters with the stroke of a
pen. We were put out of business overnight.
Z: They said, "You are a theater. And we can't theaters like
you because you really aren't a theater."
D: That's right. Prior to that, it was like, well, "It's a good
thing you guys aren't theater, because if you were theater . . .
" and so forth. That's a burden we've carried to this day,
because people don't know whether to call our show "theater" or
"cabaret" or what. And that's just fine with me. Essentially,
we have designed our own form, and we've used our own form.
There aren't a great many people doing the same thing. There are
a number of people who are doing things that are quite similar.
It's intriguing. The Instant Theater Company did not grow out of
the academic roots that Second City grew out of, which of course
had the University of Chicago behind it and lots of logical
reasons for doing most of everything they do within their system.
We, on the other hand, developed our system sort of ignorant of
all that. We made it work for us, and now whenever we deal with
people who work here and work at Second City, they always have
that adjustment to make. We have a whole different kind of
proceedure. They almost have to unlearn some of the Second City
Z: Why is it that Second City has the reputation for being the
first improvisational theater when they don't go back that as far
as Instant Theater?
D: Well, I suppose, to be totally accurate to the actual
business entities, Second City has always been Second City except
for 2 or 3 years when it was the Compass Players. So the Compass
Players started back before any of that activity.
Z: Before the Compass Players, too?
D: Oh, yeah. We're going way way back. Makes me a very old man
Z: Got a date on that?
D: It would have been like 52 or 53. That's the beginning of
the Instant Theater Company. From time to time we've used that
title over the years. But, for the most part, it's been called
the Brave New Workshop over the past few years. The Brave New
Workshop didn't start until 1961. So it's like Second City
started counting . . . I don't know when they start their count.
But it's really kind of moot because, in the meantime, while we
were doing this, the Committee in San Francisco has come and
gone, the Proposition in Boston has come and gone and the Premise
in New York and Washington has come and gone. There's a group in
New York called Chicago City Limits now, which is made up alumni
from all 3 of these esteemed theaters. Actually, I shouldn't say
all 3, I should say all 4 because our former director runs a
comedy shop in Houston which is open and doing very well.
Z: What's it called?
D: The Comedy Workshop. It's sometimes called the Houston
Comedy Workshop. It's essentially the Brave New Workshop
revisited. He was with us for 10 years. Everything is like the
Brave New Workshop is, but it's down there. He did not saddle
himself with some of the same problems that we have. He knew,
for example, that espresso was not going to be a big item in
Texas with the young crowd. So he's not selling espresso. And I
think he is very wise in that. You do get hooked onto the
negative side of your traditions. I mean, for years we've always
been selling espresso. Not a lot. But we keep selling it.
Z: Because of tradition?
D: Well, we have some loyal customers who come for it, and out
of their loyalty you maintain a loyalty to the product. I've got
a sandwich that is same basic sandwich that we've been selling
since we opened. Now, you may say, "What do you want to do with
a 25 year old sandwich?" Well, some of the customers who used to
have it still come, and they say, "Hey! Just like the good old
days!" And I say, "Yeah! Sure is!" In the meantime, it
certainly does not represent progress.
Z: Except it probably costs 10 times as much.
Next month: Part III
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