August 18, 2004 @ KGB Bar
Reviewed by Jeff Gangemi
I knew I was in
for it when I couldn't even get my Albanian Communist
friend, Jona, to come to KGB Bar with me. And when
I arrived on the scene, I understood how the red
décor, Soviet flag, and numerous portraits
of ex-Russian leaders might stir up a few disturbing
memories from the homeland. The crowd that had
gathered matched the night's theme of "nothing
in common," a rag-tag assembly of middle-aged
lesbians, Polo shirt-wearing golf clothing models,
and young literature aficionados, which my friend,
Jer, and I loosely fit into.
First, a bit of
background on the event. Drunken! Careening! Writers!
is a monthly event organized by Kathleen Warnock,
an editor for Frommers Travel Guides who moonlights
as a writer and freelance talent finder. The only
three criteria for reading at the event (besides
being literate past a fifth-grade level) are that
the work must be good, it must be original, and
it must draw a laugh from the audience (nervous
laughter counts). Each night has an appropriately
unspecific theme. The theme on this particular
night was "nothing in common."
Jer and I weren't
sure what to expect, but after another stressful
day of being unemployed, we hoped the night would
bring a welcome bit of comic relief. We sat down
with a beer, Jer drinking a Jamaican Communist
brew (Red Stripe) and I sampling a fine Czech Communist
brew (Pilsner Urquell). Our first reader/writer
of the night, Rachel Kramer Bussel, would provide
our virginal glimpse into the world of lesbian
erotica (aside from intermittent sessions on a
variety of tasteful cyberspace venues). At her
introduction, Jer and I shrugged at each other
as if to say, "This ought to be good for a
It turned out to
be good for anything but. A heartbreaking blow-by-blow
detailing the inner turmoil of a final sexual encounter, "The
End" was delivered with such obvious sincerity
and skill as to effectively entrance the audience.
I became so engrossed that I forgot I wasn't laughing.
In fact, I didn't care. I could picture Rachel's
lover lying naked on the bed, "without makeup,
the perfect combination of girl and woman." I
could feel the pain of her growing estrangement
as her memories of previous sexual escapades turned
into "someone else's pornographic fantasies." Yes,
Rachel was my first - my first Drunken! Careening!
Writer! And I have to say I was impressed.
A beer and a morose
15-minute break later, Joey Sanders and Company
made their debut with that bit of comic relief
we'd been hoping for. And just in time. This reading
was a true Joey Sanders original. A musical love
story of moronic (if not oxymoronic) proportions,
Debbie, a hobbling outcast turned nuclear-powered
superhero, falls for Eddie, a doped-out high school
druggie turned sensitive lover. No one, not even
the author himself, knows how the story will end,
but there's little doubt that it will be funny.
The highlight came when Hannah Lindroth performed
a hilarious original song from the musical that
brought the house down with laughter.
act of the night didn't show, which was okay
with me. Any more variety might've made my head
explode. Now, I'm already looking forward to
next month's theme, which is sure to be a hit.
The theme is "writers named Steve." And
if this night was any indication, it should be
very entertaining. Maybe next time I'll try to
convince some of my capitalist friends to come
crash the party with me.