By Jeffrey Carl
Thanks to a bare modicum of writing skill and a more obvious fondness for bourbon which aligned with that of my journalism professors, my putative career advanced rapidly through my undergraduate years. I went from a practicum story writer for the University of Richmond Collegian student newspaper in my freshman year to Assistant News Editor in my sophomore year, then on to Greek Life Editor and IT Manager (I read MacWorld magazine!) in my junior year, and ultimately to Opinion Editor in my senior year.
For some reason that escapes me now, I acquired a humor column during this process at the beginning of my junior year. This column, titled “Over the Cliff Notes,” eventually ran for 22 installments and was over the course of two years was read by literally dozens of actual humans, only most of which where KA pledges I forced to do so. Its literary influence was quite literally incalculable, and I’m just going to leave it at that.
It occurs to me now that topical humor from college campuses nearly 30 years ago does not age well. I’m sure it was absolutely hilarious at the time, though. Enjoy!
We here at The Collegian pride ourselves on being responsive to our readers. If you are one of the lucky customers who have purchased The Collegian “Books on Tape” series, then let me also say that we are responsive to our listeners. Editor’s Note: Please note that the “Books on Tape” edition carries the full text of this article as well as three bonus tracks, two of which are unreleased: “My Life as a Squirrel” and “Stairway to Heaven (extended live version).”
The point being that we are constantly besieged by requests from readers. Many say, “You go to Hell.” But many others also request that we print things which are of great value to the community and of general interest. These are thrown away.
But recently we have received numerous requests for a guide to what is probably my major area of expertise in life: manners. And your wish is our command, if you staple $20 to it. Today’s episode is part nine of a forthcoming series of mine called “Etiquette Betrayed.”
Etiquette Betrayed IX: Manners and the Arts
When attending arts events at the University of Richmond, there are a few simple rules to observe that will make your experience, and those of other arts patrons, more enjoyable. Unfortunately, most of these rules are not funny and therefore will be disregarded. Here is a quick-and-easy guide to the remainder of them:
When at Art Shows:
• It is rude to ask the artist what sort of drugs he or she was using at the time the work was created.
• Loudly announcing, “This is crap!” or “This is the artistic equivalent of 9 Divine!” will not be appreciated.
• If you can see somewhere that the artist messed up, feel free to take a crayon and correct it for them.
• At pottery exhibits, do not repeatedly ask to see the world-famous earthenware bong collection.
• If looking at a particularly dreadful abstract painting, run over to the nearest gallery employee and demand, “Where did you get these pictures of my mother?”
• It is generally in bad taste to vomit on the artwork. Vomiting on the artists is, however, acceptable.
When at Music Recitals:
• Holding up one’s lighter during sad parts is not generally acceptable.
• Nor is requesting “Freebird!” repeatedly.
• If the music is too quiet, you may play along on a kazoo to help others in the audience hear the tune.
• No one will be impressed if you tell the Shanghai Quartet, “You guys just haven’t been the same since David Lee Roth left.”
• If an opera or hymn is being sung in a foreign language, be helpful and invent English lyrics and sing them so the audience will know what is going on. Be sure to include in the lyrics the phrases “licks me like a hamster” and “I’m your cool cool monkey of love.”
• Although perfectly acceptable at Dead shows, “passing the peace pipe” at Mozart concertos is frowned upon.
• If one of the musicians impolitely begs you for heroin or vomits on you, it is probably just the drummer. Do not be offended, as this is one of their native customs. Feel free to vomit back.
When at Plays:
• Gesticulating with one’s arms and yelling wildly, “WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP” is generally unacceptable, unless it is called for in the program notes.
• Equally unacceptable are “The Chop” and “The Wave.”
• Comments like “Cats was much better than this” are not generally appreciated.
• If there hasn’t been a car chase in the first five minutes, you can just get up and leave.
• If the play is boring, feel free to stand up, wave your arms spastically and yell “FIRE!” to add that fun, free-for-all element of full-bore-linear-panic-in-a-crowd-situation that puts spice into life.
• Unless you are sitting in the balcony, vomiting on the actors may prove difficult.
Dying for a chance to put these new-found mannerisms into practice, aren’t you? Playing Thursday night through Sunday afternoon in the Camp Theater is the famous comedy Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, which one reviewer called “Just like being trampled to death by an army of dwarves, but less fun.” It stars a veritable horde of past and present Collegian columnists – Paul Caputo, Chris Wright, Brian C. Jones, Branden Waugh, Randy Baker and – who would have guessed? – me – which should tell you one thing right away: “Christ almighty, this isn’t gonna be even remotely amusing.” The word is out: it’s “Roop-tastic!” Jeffrey Lyons of “Sneak Previews” said, “It’s the feel-good musical comedy of the ‘90s, except that there is no music and it isn’t funny.” Quite frankly, if you miss it, you’ll be a sad, bitter, lonely failure for the rest of your life! Special guarantee: if you can tell which was Rosencrantz and which was Guildenstern by the end of the play, you don’t get your money back! Act now! And mind your manners.