The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 67.0°F | Overcast

Chorallaries rock with traditionally raunchy riot


The Chorallaries.

Room 10-250.

March 5, 11:59 pm.

By Scott Deskin
Associate Arts Editor

For the 1994 edition of the Chorallaries' Bad Taste Concert, the turnout was as big as ever, with the line ultimately stretching all the way to Building 1. By 10 p.m., with the laptop computer count at 29 and rising, people tried to abide the long wait with board games, portable stereos, homework, tarot cards, and the like. About the abnormally long queue, Doug Wyatt '96 said, "It's silly that this is the only thing at MIT that people will wait in [this sort of] line for," but Robert Kindel '95 and Evelyn Kao '95 replied, "This is what MIT is all about." Those who tested their sanity by remaining at the head of the line since around 2 p.m. could offer no words of wisdom but instead shot this reporter in the face with plastic discs: so much for eloquence.

In response to the growing frenzy outside 10-250 as showtime approached, the doors were finally opened at 11:35 p.m. As the crowd packed in and eagerly awaited the performance, a steady shower of paper airplanes and plastic discs inundated center stage. A chant that divided sides of the auditorium which began as "Tastes great!/Less filling!" rapidly became "Bad Taste!/More filling!" when some audience members seized the moment. And instead of last year's inflated condom, a swelled-up latex glove provided an able substitute for audience amusement. Someone who yelled, "Who's condom is that?" and was told, "[Yours] and your four friends'!" appropriately set the mood for the rest of the evening.

Suddenly, around midnight, the lights were dimmed and the crowd burst into cheers. The Chorallaries took center stage, with the following cast of characters: Satan, host of a "Hell at MIT" program, whose guests are famous for their noteworthy sins. Some of the celebrities and their sins included Cindy Crawford (being married to Richard Gere), Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan (accusing one another of being "a bitch"), former MIT Dean Jim Tewhey (harassment), and, of course, John and Lorena Bobbitt. An especially crude and raucous bit included John, reeling from his recent dismemberment, frantically searching for and finding his penis in the audience: the blood-stained boxer shorts, part of the 1994 Chorallaries merchandise, figured prominently throughout the program.

The first musical number was entitled "IHTFP," a parody of the Police's "Synchronicity I" which played up the more hellish aspects of the MIT experience amid a mechanical display of obscene gestures to the audience. There were a few dead spots toward the end of the song, especially when the group tried to maintain the driving, synthesizer-like tune throughout the entire tune, but it was an impressive, intense, and witty way to kick things off. As in past performances, this year's Bad Taste incorporated both skits and a capella songs to make their tabloid targets all the more vulnerable.

The next skit was an LSC parody which, like in last year's Bad Taste, included a reel breakdown, signified by the singers' voices dying, which prompted the obligatory "LSC sucks!" response. Then came a series of LSC previews, which included The Magnificent Semen, about a group of sperm confronting condoms and IUD's in their quest for the egg, and a parody of The Addams Family which instead cast the Bobbitts as the creepy and kooky (not to mention bloody) homemakers. The Bobbitts resurfaced later in the show in a twisted rewrite of Billy Joel's ballad "And So it Goes," which referred to the prospect of John and Lorena in bed again and where John viewed his current physical state with the lyric " a climax you will have to fake."

Sexual topics were also fair game during the performance. A few songs were simply aimed at students trying to make a favorable impression on their professors (in bed) in the neverending search for an easy A. The catchier effort was a song by the funkless divas of "En Vague" in a rip-off of "Free Your Mind": "I'm a slut, but I'm a scholar/I get my A's for one hundred dollar [sic]." The more serious sexual song was "Don't End Go and End Your Life With One Lay," which stressed the importance of condom usage, etc., against a backdrop of gratuitous vulgarities.

This year's traditional top ten list was "Top Ten Rejected Bad Taste Ideas." Among the more inspired titles were "Profemina Swimsuit Issue," "Yo! Walter Lewin Raps," and "Jim Tewhey's Wild Kingdom." Indeed, with all the jabs at Tewhey during the performance, you'd hardly know he's left MIT. A song/skit mocking his travails, sung to the tune of Duran Duran's "Rio" and loosely based on Tewhey's plea of innocence as The Fugitive, was a tabloid-exploiting success. After all, who could resist the clever phrasing of "Oh Tewhey, Tewhey, keep your hands off her behind" without guilty deriving pleasure from such muckracking aimed at the MIT brass?

Mock television programs were in abundance, such as "MITV's House of Style with Cindy Crawford," "COPS at MIT," and a pseudo-homage to the last season of "Star Trek: The Next Generation." The latter featured the crew of Picard's Enterprise face-to-face with villain William Shatner, who theatens the crew with relentless bad acting and his (in)famous rendition of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds." Within this skit, the Chorallaries made similar nostalgic nods to "The A-Team" and "Cheers," when a sing-along version of "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" probably got a bit sappy. Still, the Star Trek fans were out in full force and showed their enthusiasm for an otherwise adept parody.

Another interesting aspect of this year's performance was a surprise appearance by none other than the all-male a capella group, the Logarhythms. Two of the members unexpectedly approached the center and, with backs turned to the audience, proceeded to relieve themselves into a trash can. This provided the opportunity to lead into more penis jokes, and then a medley of Queen's "Fat-Bottomed Girls," Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back," and even Spinal Tap's "Big Bottom," with predictably amusing results. It's not known whether or not this was planned as part of the performance (a few bouncers said, "Is this a hack?") but it all went rather smoothly and fit comfortably within the Bad Taste tradition.

It soon came time for the formal conclusion of the show, which necessitated the traditional MIT theme, "We Are the Engineers." It was performed with alternate lyrics (dirty ones, of course), with a verse about a less-than-respectable girl from Radcliffe who would say, "Get off of me, you son of a b., if you're from MIT!" Another verse presented a guy who spews forth a slew of lewd sexual activities, then proclaimed that he knew nothing of sex, "'Cause I'm an engineer." The irony was lost on no one, true to the concept of Bad Taste.

The two encores performed were identical to those from last year: "Cabdriver in New York" and "Necrophilia Down by the Graveyard." Both were enjoyable and crowd-pleasing, if unsurprising songs from the Chorallaries repertoire. Even in the parody of Paul Simon's "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard," the soloist showed signs of falling apart, not a particularly good sign on a Chorallaries' standard. The sheer catchiness of the tunes, playfulness of singer-audience interaction, and polish on the Chorallaries' Wall of Sound were good enough to earn these two encores the loudest applause of the evening.

The Chorallaries' Bad Taste '94 was largely an unqualified success, achieving a balance between good performance and bad taste. Despite a few tendencies toward excess and a few bungles on the delivery, the Chorallaries ably helped to maintain the crude tradition with which they have been entrusted. As long as tabloid trash fills our lives, you can be certain that the Concert in Bad Taste will capitalize on it.