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Tacky and tasteless humor at the Concert in Bad Taste


The MIT Chorallaries.

Room 10-250, March 18, midnight.


LIKE THE TYPICAL MEL BROOKS film, a Chorallaries Concert in Bad Taste is generally a hit and miss affair of tacky racial and sexual humor. This year, the Chorallaries were kind enough to forgo racial stereotypes and replace them with humor that revolved more around day-to-day Institute life; the tuition increase and ARA food were hacked repeatedly throughout the program. Still, some potentially offensive stereotypes remained; the male Chorallary dressed as an aerobics instructor was intended to be representative of a homosexual, and lines of the song "The Dirty, Nerdy, Ugly Guy in Course 6-3" refer contemptuously to a Chinese student. At least this year the group prefaced its show with a disclaimer insisting that they were not out to intentionally offend anyone, but that this was indeed a concert in bad taste and should be taken as such.

The audience, who had been chanting "LSC. . . sucks!" long before the concert began, were obviously pleased when the Chorallaries started the show by humming the LSC theme and then moved on to a slightly amusing song about tycoon Donald Trump. The soloist forgot one line, and the high notes of the chorus were strained and cracked, but the latter problem faded as the group continued with their program.

The Chorallaries had been expecting the usual hack by alumni or members of other singing groups, but were instead surprised by a streaker who interrupted their song about the current rash of airline mishaps. The group was flustered and almost didn't finish the song.

An overly long skit about ARA ("the government agency in charge of biological warfare") preceded "Pizza Pie," a thoroughly nauseating look at campus food to the tune of the Beatles' "Honey Pie." Sound effects -- retching and burping -- only added to the song's already disgusting nature. The tenor soloist, however, was excellent, his tone pure even as he conveyed his fear and loathing of the dreaded pizza. This number was followed by Tom Lehrer's "The Masochism Tango," a marvelously sick look at love relationships. Perversely, the soloist was costumed as the sadistic Freddy Krueger even as he begged to be whipped, beaten, and disfigured by his beloved.

Further songs about mundane topics such as the Logarythms and Oprah Winfrey's excess poundage were not so successful, the jokes falling flat. Only when the Chorallaries returned to the usual gutter sexual humor did the concert truly become funny again. A trio of songs beginning with a deceptively placid chorale entitled "Orgies" ended with Monty Python standard "Every Sperm is Sacred," which was introduced by a skit about the "TCA Sperm Drive." The middle song of the trio, an ode to a sexual position entitled "Route 69," was by far the most astonishingly tasteless song I have ever heard. Rude, shocking, offensive, and completely devoid of any redeeming value, "Route 69" is a song worthy of inclusion in future Bad Taste concerts.

The program finished with the traditional "Engineers' Song," the strongest selection of the concert since it was augmented by numerous Chorallaries alumni. The alumni pulled off a delayed hack when they continued to sing verse after verse, brushing off all attempts by the current Chorallaries to bring the ballad to a close.

The concert was well-attended, but the Chorallaries should be made aware of several problems incumbent with not limiting the size of the audience. When the doors to 10-250 were opened at 11:30, the crowd pushed inside so violently that many audience members were nearly trampled and could have been seriously injured. The oversized crowd also spilled over into the aisles, completely filling them and creating a serious fire hazard. Since procuring a larger room for the concert is probably unlikely -- 26-100 has poor acoustics, and a concert this rowdy would never be allowed in Kresge -- perhaps tickets could be sold or given out for free. As an alternative, the concert could be held on multiple nights. The Bad Taste concerts are entertaining if juvenile diversions, but the lack of crowd control dampens the experience considerably.