|"The Song Of The Bargemen" Summer 2004. Winnipeg Fringe Festival.|
July 15 2004. "The Song Of The Bargemen" Reviewed by CBC CaveDweller Cindy Burke
[Paraphrased] "This Chicago group makes... pedestrian[s] attempt... humour that belittles... anyone who is...a... form. The Better Boyfriends have put together a show. a [sic] sailor with the sweet barge sinks. Pass."
Mid-May 2004. The Better Boyfriends Cited On Winnipeg Fringe Festival 2004 Performer Services Site
"Lists are alphabetical by company names using the first significant word in the name and ignoring articles such as 'a', 'an' or 'the'. For example: 'The Better Boyfriends' is listed under 'Better' and not 'The'. Names beginning with numbers will be listed first."
March, 2004. The Better Boyfriends Interviewed For Mediocre Chicago Bar Journal, The Tap.
"...We used to describe ourselves as 'experimental slapstick with musical accompaniment' and 'neo-post-apocalyptic-psychosexual-space-age-vaudeville,' but I think today I would classify us as 'Epic sideshow,' but in the Brechtian sense. It has forever been true—though we are frequently apt to temporarily forget it—that our group is above-all dedicated to producing 'light entertainment' for the masses, albeit what we perceive to be the finest, most skillfully wrought light entertainment imaginable. We apologize profusely for any artistic excesses to which any audience members might have been unexpectedly exposed, at any time..."
The Better Boyfriends Present “Song of the Bargeman, Parts
1 & 2”,
What IS The Better Boyfriends? The Better Boyfriends, strictly speaking,
is four guys from Chicago who perform smarty-pants avant-garde comedy.
But, more striking than that, The Better Boyfriends is a technique. It
is a way of combining the palatable joys of radio theater, silent cinema,
Vista-Visionary musical revues, your typically twit-witted sex farce,
gore-speckled zombie violence, and that special, dark brand of humor one
mops up off the barroom floor at the end of a long night along with the
dried sweat and the eyeballs. And how this could possibly be so is not
so difficult to understand! The Better Boyfriends perform a sweet, nutty
pastiche built from the millionfold ingredients of mass-mediated culture
that have been doled out since the First World War; they throw it all
into a rusty pie tin, and then bake it in a 450 degree Fahrenheit oven
until the neighbors’ curtains catch on fire. The scripts seem to
re-imagine James Joyce as a problem drinker who fell asleep watching the
cheapies on the late-late show, and woke up screaming in the middle of
the Saturday morning cartoons. They are performed by three grown men in
wigs and break-away suits who rarely actually speak, but rather contort
their bodies like cheesed-off camel-spiders to the rhythm of pre-recorded
dialogue tracks, which have been diluted in an interminable stew of musical
anecdotes as comfortable with Les Baxter and his grass-paneled Tiki kingdom
as they are with the glossed-up coke-funk of the 1970s. Every so often
over-sized video images appear on the back-wall, which take the twisted
notion of reality put forth on the stage and distort it still further,
as though one were the nightmare of God, and the other were his fever-dream.
The Official Supplemental Media Blurb:
The Better Boyfriends began as the sensational musings of Jon Roberts,
who had grown tired of selling bagels for peanuts in Santa Cruz, California,
and Peter Wilberding, who was through with his life above that mattress
factory in Chicago. They struck upon the original and foolproof idea of
fighting their ennui by forming a band. Joining their forces, they realized
they knew just enough to record silly cracker dance anthems they could
pimp as “moustache rock”, but not enough to play it on real
instruments live, and so they ended up whipping out their self-produced
tunes on a CD player, and moving around to them like ninjas until songs
inexplicably poured forth from their gaping jaws and mighty gums. Occasionally
one of them would play a trombone, and every so often they would regale
the audience with participatory games like “Bowling for Sausages”,
or a monologue about that Christmas when they accidentally set fire to
June 30 2004
Citizens! Change is in the air!
Once considered peerless harbingers of peace and diplomatic tact, The Better Boyfriends have been driven by the necessity of protecting their interests in Canada to make an unprecedented, pre-emptive strike against the upstart theatre cells which will be descending upon the Winnipeg, Manitoba Fringe Festival in just under two weeks.
Though it is true that at some point in the past The Better Boyfriends may have been guilty of trading heavy multimedia secrets with such once-friendly regimes as The Steve Breadstone Experience, the time has now drawn nigh to destroy them completely. We will henceforth be turning over the massive powers of this website to charting our progress as we prepare the forces at our command for the most mortal of all combats. We will continue to inform you of the status of our operations via a simple, candy-coated alert system, with the color pink representing “All is well, nothing to tell”, and an entirely different shade of pink representing that we are all in a deep shitload of undercooked blood pudding.
Once we told you that we were not your messiah, that we had not come to save your filthy souls from themselves. Now it is time that to tell you that we were lying before, when we said that, and that, in fact, we really are your only hope for mounting a defense against the vast, yet simple, part of North America, which is threatening implicitly your right to not have to realize it’s even there.
Place yourselves in our hands, and together we will sound the siren of freedom.
The first step we will take will be to challenge the so-called theatre groups of Winnipeg to a mighty duel, as proud representatives of Chicago, America. For every speck of Rush they throw at us, we will meet them with a great panty-load of Styx. For every foray into Degrassi Junior High we are made to take, we will pistol-whip them on the floor of The Max while Slater and Screech stand by jerking sodas. Most importantly, however, we will infiltrate the Canadian resistance right where they sleep, by convincing The Steve Breadstone Experience to let us sleep on their living room floor, and then burning a fucking hole straight through their collection of “Sass-Snatchewan Monthly” back-issues.
Light a candle for us, America, and then quickly snuff it out- because those bastards can see in the dark, and if we fail in our mission, they’ll be coming after you, next.
And this time they won’t stop until Alanis Morisette has the keys to your trailer.
July 7 2004
leashed them to their own fear,
UPDATE: Since the publication of The Better Boyfriends' Declaration of Intent, The Steve Breadstone Experience has seen fit to hide behind a wall of words. Tiny, stupid words. While we remain here, in the Fatherland, tending to the women, children, and criminally insane, they have left their city woefully unprotected, choosing instead the shameful occupation of cavorting lasciviously with the diseased tarts of Montreal, of all places. They have, however, in their silly, Canadian manner, responded to our Invitation to Destruction. Those of thick skins and iron bellies may read their statement here.
Yes, Citizens, what you have heard coursing through the wires is true: The Steve Breadstone Experience has made official contact with The Better Boyfriends via heavily-secured routes of electro-communication! The following is a faithful repetition of its message invitating us to the bitter, thousand-dollar-a-plate charity banquet of theatrical doom at which its ultimate vanquishing is destined to take place!
from The Steve Breadstone Experience.
Oh, “Tyler”! We see right through you, you army of none! Your pelt-like web of face-gristle cannot hide from us the cutting sparkle of your true intent! And so, accordingly, we accept your awesome challenge and anxiously await the moment when our collectively let blood will intermingle in the crusty, embedded drain of the Winnipeg battledrome! There may have been a time, once, long ago, when we could have been persuaded to let you off easy, but your blatant and belligerent appraisal of the size and staying power of our American love-hammers, as assessed in the above, cannot be allowed to go unanswered! We suggest you begin employing protective gauze in order to mask the terror-induced urine stains that will soon be spontaneously appearing upon your pleated trouser-fronts as the days leading up to our historical meeting quickly evaporate. Begin clearing off your apartment floor now in expectation of our mighty sleeping bags, The Steve Breadstone Experience, and wash your extra towels: you may be baking the cake of battle, but we will be bringing to you the paper hats of war!
July 10 2004
To our other North Americans:
At this hour, Chicago-based forces are in the early stages of theatrical operations to disarm the companies of the Winnipeg, Manitoba Fringe Festival, to free the people of Winnipeg and defend the world from grave danger.
On the orders of special liaison Warren P. Afghan, The Better Boyfriends have begun to strike selected targets of theatrical importance in order to undermine the aggressors’ ability to wage improvised violence upon the people of Winnipeg. These are opening stages of what will be a broad and concerted campaign. More than thirty-five people are giving crucial support: from the use of their fruit stands, ice cream trucks, and drive-thru windows to help with intelligence and logistics, to the deployment of combat-strength prescription medications. Every person in this coalition has chosen to bear the duty and share the honor of serving in our common defense. Each of them will receive a surprise coupon, and our favorites will receive a gift certificate.
To all the men and women of the United States theatrical alliance already in Winnipeg, and to all who will soon be serving there, the peace of a troubled world and the hopes of an oppressed people now depend on you. That trust is well placed.
The enemies you confront will come to know your skill and bravery. The people you liberate will witness the honorable and decent spirit of the American avant-garde comedy scene. In this conflict, America faces an enemy who has no regard for conventions of comedy or rules of morality. The Steve Breadstone Experience and Boiling Pol Pot Productions have placed their troops and equipment in civilian areas, attempting to use innocent men, women, and children as shields for their own whims- a final atrocity against their people. But we promise we will smoke them out of their holes, powder their spider pits with jellied mescaline, and turn them into butter. Delicious, nourishing, American butter. Served with peanuts, and meat, and a nice white sauce.
We want Americans and all the world to know that The Better Boyfriends will make every effort to spare innocent civilians from harm. Street-clowns, however, may suffer heavy losses. The sale of funnel cakes and other circus foods to individuals about to perform a show will also be considered an act of war.
A campaign on the harsh terrain of a city as large as Columbus, Ohio could be longer and more difficult than some predict. And helping Winnipegianianians achieve a united, stable, and free city will require our sustained commitment. This is exactly why we are prepared to sleep on the soft, large-framed medicinal sofas of drug-addicts and other communist groups for as long as it takes, even if it forces us to miss work, school, or commit adultery: every hour, on the hour.
We come to Winnipeg with respect for its citizens- except for Tyler Glennon and Jay Van Deventer, who will have their naughty beards shaved to the quick by our shiny American straight-razors- for their great civilization, and for the religious faiths they practice. We have no ambition in Winnipeg, except to remove a threat and restore control of that city to its own people. Some will claim that we are doing it for the pelts. There are many depraved individuals out there who will try to make otherwise patriotic citizens believe we have come to Winnipeg for no other reason than to service our fathers’ interests in the beaver trade. This is patently untrue. That notwithstanding, however, we will gladly accept any tax-deductible gifts you may choose to bestow upon us, especially if they are borne to the foot of our thrones on velvet-lined sedans set atop the milk-white shoulders of rubber-clad Canadian virgins. As long as they’re not French. Because that would just be fucking disturbing.
I know that the families of The Better Boyfriends- Jimmy the Snake, Boregard Bumwhistle, and little Harry Cauldron- are praying that all those who serve under the liberating, freedom-fighting, democracy-vomiting forces will return safely and soon. Millions of Americans are praying with them for the safety of their loved ones and for the protection of the innocent. For their sacrifice, they have the gratitude and respect of the American people. And you can know that our comedians will be coming home as soon as their work is done.
The Better Boyfriends enter this conflict reluctantly, yet their purpose is sure. The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime of rogue theatre groups that threaten the peace with weapons of mass dysfunction. We will meet that threat now, with our station wagons, our moustaches, and our Doobie Brothers tapes so that we do not have to meet it later with armies of fire fighters and police and doctors on the streets of our cities.
Now that conflict has come, the only way to limit its duration is to apply decisive force. And I assure you, this will not be a campaign of half measures, and we will accept no outcome but victory. When our victory has been finally and fully confirmed, with open hearts and open fists will we return full sovereignty to the good people of Winnipeg, under the direction of several waves of America comedy troupes, who will only demand that tribute be paid to them once a month, and who will promise to break no more than seven, but no less than three, breast-plates per lunch hour.
My fellow citizens, the dangers to our country and the world will be overcome. We will pass through this time of peril and carry on the work of peace. We will defend our freedom. We will bring freedom to others and we will prevail.
May God bless our country and all who defend her. May God bless The Better Boyfriends. And may The Steve Breadstone Experience know for sure that we’re coming to pee on their lawn. May God bless the blessed God-blessing, blessing-God blessing bless bless bless blessingers. Thank you, and good night.
July 14 2004
BUT CAN THEY DO THIS?
The Steve Breadstone Experience would like you, the consumer, to believe a whole crapload of fantastic notions. It would like you to believe that its reputed upbringing as the son of a back-country puppy mill worker justifies its subsequent rise to the status of fat-cat, hot-shot, big-city trial lawyer. But does it really have what it takes to go on and on for nearly a quarter-inch of tightly stacked plain white pages on the dynamic, pressing subjects of modern Irish literature, pop-culture television programming, and how the interpenetration of these topics spells death for the autonomy of the average ant-burning citizen?
Well, The Steve Breadstone Experience would like you to believe that it does have what it takes. But we think differently.
The Better Boyfriends know that The Steve Breadstone Experience has enough trouble copying a cookie recipe from its mother’s hope-chest to a three by five inch index card, to say nothing about managing to spill a fifth of shiny black printers’ ink on what really matters to the people: early twentieth century montage filmmaking. But The Steve Breadstone Experience is too afraid to face up to what the people really desire.
Nevertheless, The Better Boyfriends have not ruled out attaching The Steve Breadstone Experience to their ticket when they begin their bid for multinational comedic supremacy. Depending, of course, on how good those goddamn cookies really are. So start cooking, you hairy Canadians.
To observe the extent to which The Better Boyfriends have raced ahead of The Steve Breadstone Experience’s own intellectual moxie, proceed to the following…
July 15 2004
How to have balls:
brief tutorial for
UPDATE: During the filming for "The Song Of The Bargemen: Part Two", we had the opportunity to strap a smoke grenade to Jon's butt. Here's the picture.
Sadly, Methodist youth-group The Steve Breadstone Experience has recently seen fit to decimate in print the impact that Chicago-based Kyklopses of rock Styx has had upon the world-community. In their scathing, yet ultimately threadbare interrogation of the band’s historical significance, which stretches across time and space even now like hot, slutty tentacles covered in steel spikes, it is clear that what The Steve Breadstone Experience is really avoiding is the truth they will not admit even to themselves: that when all the beans are weighed and counted, there’s no denying that Styx had big balls.
Thunderous, plundering, wondrously big balls.
Allow us to investigate this thesis. One need look no further than the official Styx homepage (www.styxworld.com), in which one can find candid snapshots of the group’s latest summer tour, which they have seen fit to mount astride contemporary ball-bearers Peter Frampton- whose own balls are modest, yet commendable, and which whistle of their own volition when he walks- and the redoubtable Matthew “and” Gunnar Nelson- who between the two of them have at least one set of tolerably testacular appendages.
In one particularly telling shot, in which the band can be seen grouping together to receive the accolades of their tremendously moved fan-base, it is clear that on the horned headstock of guitarist James “JY” Young’s ax there hangs a pair of bright, comically over-sized panties, doubtlessly tossed from the throngs of the worthy, possibly by a clown, and nigh on half fossilized by what appears to have been a fearful drenching of clarified joy-drip.
These, The Steve Breadstone Experience, represent all the putrid undershields of all the scores of high school English teachers, rental-car agency receptionists, and White Castle and/or bus terminal clerks that every American day get their collective rocks off to the strains of “Man of Miracles” and “Rock and Roll Feeling”. And to please this important constituency, a man has got to have one thing: Balls. Back-breaking, Earth-shaking, moon-raking balls.
And what did James “JY” Young do with those panties once he got them home? He put them on. Then he donned a pair of six-inch stiletto heels, painted himself up like a dirty whore, and beat himself with a curtain rod until dawn. And that sort of accomplishment bespeaks a singular phenomenon: Balls. Balls with filed fangs. Balls that have lasers shooting out of them. Big, big, fucking big balls.
You know what else takes balls? Writing an album about robots. It can be darkness only in the shadow of such awesome balls. America has the collective gnads of Gods in its knapsack, and those are simply the gnads of Styx. The Steve Breadstone Experience, we hereby invite you to lay your balls upon the table.
July 17 2004
The Proof is in the Puddle
With much chagrin, and despite repeated urgent warnings, do we, the members of The Better Boyfriends, perceive that the sad carnies who make up The Steve Breadpudding Theatrical Dessert Cart have still not withdrawn from the Winnipeg Fringe Festival at which they will be forced to kowtow to our blazing performative strategies.
It is true that when they first played the Alex Trebek card, we were a little bit worried; but far be it from us to not have George Alexander Trebek’s number! His star turn on “The Wizard of Odds” notwithstanding, there is a sordid mystery shadowing that shorn upper lip, and one which ends in the present day with his self-imposed exile in California, where he now operates as- sit down, Canada- a fucking horse whisperer (or a whispering horse-fucker, depending upon who you ask).The visionary moustache which ignited an entire generation’s self-image and sexy dreams, it turns out, was relinquished to American customs officials when Mr. Trebek’s Canadian origins were discovered, and it became clear that he just couldn’t handle its power.
Hence the miserable suck-baby’s sunken, haggard features, so visible now that he is separated from the seat of his former radiance, which occupies a heavily-secured ark safely stashed away in the basement of the George Eastman house. Soon, all Canadians will be forced to turn in their moustaches at special rehabilitation centers, where their combined energies- all, really, that was keeping Canada from breaking off the United States and spinning into space in the first place- will be dedicated to far nobler tasks, i.e., powering the circuits that power the juicers and mechanized servants of our empire.
The Stevie Nixon Experience, you claim that we claim that our campaign against you will be “a simple matter of marching”- but it shall be so much more. The marching, in our attractive lacey boots, will be only the beginning. It shall lead inevitably to the loading of you and all your sympathizers into our Saintmaker 3000 device, a great improvement over its predecessors, the rightfully renowned Widowmaker, and, of course, the tragically flawed Witchmaster of old. So it shall pass, unless it turns out your sympathizers become our sympathizers, in which case we might be able to work something out.
Yes, that’s it!, an ice cream cake delivered to every The Stan Freebone Convalescence party meeting, adorned with many convincing words in frosting script engineered to lure your so-called friends and well-wishers to our many hilarious shows! Such referrals may be your only chance at beating the reaper, our worthy foes: for remember, in this and all things, not only do we have our balls to the wall, but goddammit, we’ve got balls to burn.
August 18 2004
Friends. Comrades. Citizens. Pete Better Boyfriends here, with the final news:
The gay fantasia is dead. However! Something entirely new is already in production, so return to this website from time to time in the coming months.
Until then, to the small handful of people who appreciated the result of our misguided, ambitious little experiment in avant garde comedy, thank you for your patronage.
©1999-2006 Better Boyfriends