By Cheryl Hann, Staff Contributor
Have you ever laid awake at night wondering if The Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers were really as kung-fu-awesome as you remember? Or watched a particularly embarrassing YouTube clip and thought, your heart full of pity: “In 20 years, this kid will get married. As a joke, his best man will play this video. Then, everyone will know that a demon possessed him on Christmas morning at the exact moment that he unwrapped his Nintendo 64.” ? If, like me, you spent your childhood watching bad TV, and your adulthood watching bad TV uploaded on to YouTube, you may have. Mark Black and Stephan MacLeod, the hosts of TV Party at Gus’ Pub, definitely have.
“TV Party is a night of people showing found footage and insane YouTube clips,” MacLeod says of the monthly show. “It takes place on the last Tuesday of each month and has been happening since last June.” “It’s essentially our love letter to television, pop culture and video,” adds Black, “unscripted, and hopefully ridiculous.” The TV Party, if you’ve never been, is kind of like huddling around a friend’s computer while everyone shares their favorite YouTube videos. Except, in this case, your friends have seen everything, and are on stage, holding microphones. Inspired by the likes of TV Carnage, Everything is Terrible and The Found Footage Festival, Black and MacLeod have put together a night that showcases all the bizarre videos you’ve dreamt about, but never seen. Black brings the awkward, sometimes-confrontational comedic commentary, while MacLeod focuses on blowing your mind, video-style.
“The show is very loose,” MacLeod says. “Mark and I come in with tons of videos but no real plan or order for showing them. The mood tends to be set by how we are feeling in the moment, or by audience reaction.”
And the audience reaction varies.
“As the night goes on and we’ve had more drinks, things start to get more unpredictable,” says MacLeod. “The audience tends to take part in yelling things. We try to prank call the people in the videos. People get offended. They walk out on us.”
“Making spontaneous prank phone calls to those who appear in the videos is pretty much my favorite part of the night,” says Black.
“Oh!” he adds, remembering something. “We also give out prizes.”
Yes, they do. One prize you get, just for showing up, is your very own table littered with a wealth of popcorn, chips and candy. Other prizes include hilarity, and special guests.
“I think what sets TV Party apart from (things such as TV Carnage), is that we take a community-based approach,” says MacLeod, both by encouraging audience participation/snacking, and “by inviting local filmmakers, comedians, and friends to showcase their favorite video clips.”
The TV Party has had a near guest-star bonanza, with contributions from the likes of Jason Eisner, Mark Little and fellow absurd-video scavenger Ryan Delehanty.
“Some guests have really understood the concept, and others have interpreted it in their own way. Ryan seems to really just take what we do and run with it and outdo us all. It’s embarrassing showing stereotypical Anti-Drug PSA after Anti-Drug PSA when Ryan comes up and shows the most amazing bike safety video that has all of the cyclists rapping,” says Black. “He put the new Classified video to shame.”
So, why should you log on to Facebook, scope out the next TV Party event and click ‘attending’? Well, if you enjoy unintentional humor, child-scarring, youth programming and men with mustaches in thigh-clinging spandex, the answer is obvious. Add in the fact that Black and MacLeod have done all of the Internet-scouring for you, and there’s no real reason not to go.
“We’ve just been piecing together fragments of television and pop culture to make what amounts to a TV mixed tape,” says Black. “I guess we’re just trying to add to the collective knowledge of our generation while at the same time making everyone dumber.”
Black and MacLeod will also be putting out a DVD of their best found footage, which will be available by the end of February. You can check out the TV Party on the last Tuesday of every month, Gus’ Pub at 10:30 p.m.