Electric Arc Radio get awkwardly hip at the Ritz Theater
Electric Arc Radio show
Ritz Theater, November 29
By Dan Sinykin
Electric Arc Radio is like A Prairie Home Companion on shrooms, or a post-postmodern Wizard of Oz. It's eight or so people in folding chairs on stage at The Ritz in northeast, dressed casually (for the most part), drinking bottles of Grain Belt, and taking turns up front at the mikes. It's interspersed with songs from, Saturday night, guests Jeremy Messersmith and The New Standards. It's about 2,973 pop-cultural references. (I lost actual count at around 177.) It's awkwardly hip and often funny and just about the weirdest show I've ever seen.
Couple that, um, plot with the aforementioned references and allusions and in-jokes that barrage your prefrontal cortex at about mach 18 and you can understand why the crowd left looking like they just each had (and sort of enjoyed) a colonoscopy or something.
Mostly the show's supposed to be funny. The humor derives from parodic songs, puerile sex jokes, characters' ethnic ignorance, and participating in the spiderwebbed and literary matrix of intertextuality. The songs were hilarious - Herbach singing about his hair; Sleany McFear doing falsetto covers of The Cranberries - but the sex jokes were hit or miss. Upon receiving a popsicle for Christmas, Steph said, "It's like an orange . . . penis." I couldn't figure out any way how that was funny.
Also, I should mention that Jeremy Messersmith was fantastic. He slipped back and forth with ease between playing the plot's ironic hero and the passionate performance of his interspersed songs.
In sum: Electric Arc Radio = information age enema for your brain.