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 Minnesota's economy.

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 1985.

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 Minneapolis.

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 were returned.

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, Georgio."

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 command> prompt.

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 proceedure.

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 indeed.

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.

D: Yeah.

Next month: Part III

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