Cringe: Night of A Thousand Showalters
Last week’s Cringe was my favorite yet. Our special guest reader, Michael Showalter, totally killed. He read a faux-beatnik poem he wrote for his high school literary journal, The Cheshire Cat (those in the know just call it “The Cat”), titled “The Apartment.” This baby would have made Jack Kerouac bite his fist. It was a gritty look at dirty cynical city life, written from Showalter’s cushy teenage bedroom in suburban New Jersey. He prefaced his reading with, “I mean, I’d been to New York City several times at this point, but mostly to see musicals.” The poem was full of gems like, “I smoked a reefer with two unemployed actors across the hall of my apartment building. They don’t know shit about fuck,” and “In my room is a 6-string guitar. It only has 3 strings.”
I was a huge fan of The State in high school. The summer I was seventeen, on a family vacation at the beach, I stayed up all night because MTV was running a State marathon. I remember thinking, “Eh, what do I have to do tomorrow but lie by the ocean?”, so I watched them all, finally passing out around 5 am, when my dad woke up to go for his morning run. Later, I was so glad I’d done this, once The State was over and unavailable on tape or DVD. I downloaded the entire first season from iTunes a few months ago and watch it every time I’m on an airplane. It’s still funny.
Anyway, my whole point is, Cringe is not about the readers, it’s about the material—no auditions, no editing, straight readings—no way to make yourself look cool. Having famous readers won’t become a regular thing; I don’t ever go looking for aspiring actors or anything like that, unless they can just relax and read their old journal. I’ve been so lucky to always have awesome hilarious readers with awesome hilarious material, but this time, it was a nice little treat to have someone I’ve always admired read. And even nicer that he was just as hilarious as I’d hoped he would be.
Pictures live here.