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SEMEN, TOILET PAPER... AND SINGING

By Amandeep Loomba

Staff Writer

The only thing I could remember the morning after the Chorallaries’ Nth Annual Concert in Bad Taste was the bad smell.

Bad Taste is just that kind of an event. You go out late one Saturday night thinking you’re going to see an innocent a capella performance by the Chorallaries, and you wake up the morning after lying between 120 pounds of Institute-issue toilet paper and a goateed man dressed as Jesus Christ.

Wait. Let me start over. I attended the Nth Annual Concert in Bad Taste with a notepad in one hand and a flask of mysterious liquid in the other. One was to help me remember, and the other to help forget. Using my notes as best I can, I will try to piece together the events of the night of Saturday, March 8, 2003 on behalf of anyone out there still recovering, waiting, and wondering how Bad Taste happened to them.

What would Jesus do? Not this

From what I can recall, the evening did begin with a bad smell. That would be the smell lingering outside of 10-250, which may have had something to do with the students camped out there, far from civilization and from showers. I never did find out why they were there, since I couldn’t get close enough without growing light-headed. At the time, I suspected that they were just diehard a capella fans. In retrospect, I’d say the Chorallaries probably burned down their houses, leaving them homeless.

Because, you see, the Chorallaries came right out at the beginning of Bad Taste and informed the unruly lynch mob of an audience that they weren’t going to hold back for fear of hurting anyone. Jesus himself (Daniel Bersak ’03) strutted out and announced that all women, uncircumcised men, Jews, Catholics, circumcised men, Asians, and persons named Aimee Smith were going to be roundly insulted, assuming, of course, that the Chorallaries covered all their bases.

Throughout this introduction and well into the rest of the show, the audience members seemed to be producing unspeakable amounts of paper products, and they were not afraid to use them to express frustration with the Chorallaries’ actions, express agreement with their sentiments, or just marvel at the sight of a whole ream of paper tossed into the air gently floating downward to cover the room.

And the toilet paper. Don’t be surprised if you are unable to wipe your ass in the coming weeks anywhere in the Institute, unless you’re shitting somewhere in the first 10 rows of 10-250, where I’m sure you’ll find plenty of TP.

So, that was how Bad Taste began.

From Jesus’s introduction, the show descended into a chaotic frenzy of skits and music, solo and group acts. Like the elusive figures that come to you (or on you) in your dreams, one act blended into the next and the intensity ramped up until you found yourself screaming “AFRICA!” repeatedly in an agitated fury without really understanding why.

Technology enabled active licking

At their best, the sketches and songs were acerbic, dead-on portraits of everything wrong with MIT and the world. The opening musical piece “The Business” (a reworked version of Cake’s “The Distance,” performed by Benjamin M. Schwartz ’05 and Jonathon R. Long ’06) blasted MIT’s uncaring, corporation-like behavior, mentioning everything from rising tuition costs to network outages.

In “Story Hour With the Administration,” Ross I. Runnion ’04 covered MIT’s seemingly oblivious perspective on eliminating pass/ no record grading for frosh. Emily C. Vincent ’04, as a junior, responded perfectly to a freshman’s request for help in 8.02: “Hah, I took 8.02 pass/fail, I don’t know that shit!” Meanwhile, unhelpful TA “Vishnu” directed freshman with questions to “go to the Web site -- it’s SO easy!”

On a somewhat related topic, “Give Me an ‘A,’” sung by Charlene Chuang in a duet with Vincent, saw a student wrestling with the age-old question of whether spitting or swallowing means the difference between getting a B or an A from your TA.

Throughout Bad Taste, the best comedy always came back to ways the MIT administration acted carelessly or cluelessly with regard to the undergraduate population and its needs. In fact, a theme of this year’s bad taste was “Building a Better Community,” a brilliant riff on MIT’s perplexingly self-congratulatory attitude in all its endeavors to make students’ lives miserable.

The Chorallaries, of course, have good reason to sing the administration’s flaws to the world. Once upon a time (i.e., last year and every year before that), Bad Taste started at midnight and went as late as it damn well pleased. This year, the group was forced to start earlier and was very nearly forced to hold the event in a different room. In truth, I would say the Chorallaries went easy on the Chuck Vest and friends, all things considered.

Boos gravitate to Newton

In most cases, the Chorallaries managed to show even worse taste than the administration, and to great effect. “Good Masturbator,” sung with a pleasant evocation of Sade by Leah Premo ’04, gave some deserved attention to the acts of chronic onanism and clusterbation, eliciting more than a few nervous laughs from the crowd.

One of the evening’s highlights, and one of the biggest draws of tossed items and boos from the crowd, was “Newtonian Law and Order,” the tale of two policemen (Archie Medes and Zack Newton) trying to track down a fugitive electric field responsible for breaking some fundamental laws. While I found this sketch particularly clever, the audience for the most part went out of its way to make its groans audible. Why would they do such a thing? Your Gauss is as good as mine.

All in all, there were very few missed notes throughout the evening. While one or two of the sketches might have fallen short, the Chorallaries were, musically, absolutely pitch-perfect. For songs that were all jokes and parodies, it was clear that the group spent its time rehearsing and getting them right.

It is true that Bad Taste is a jarring experience. Anyone who sees the show for the first time will never be the same. However, it is quite pleasing that the show was kept alive despite the administration’s attempts to stifle it, since MIT just wouldn’t be the same without Bad Taste.