Last Thursday night, the Tip Top Vaudeville troupe put on a show for the UCSB students of Isla Vista as an experiment to see if vaudeville is something the American youth want as a source of entertainment – like they did in the late 1800s.
“The American youth want that good old-fashioned vaudeville entertainment again,” says Curly Malone, manager of Tip Top Vaudeville. “The people want to laugh. hey want to feel nervous. They want to cry. TV doesn’t provide that type of show where you can laugh at performers and freaks, while still feeling a big heart for them as well.”
When informed about the HBO show “Carnivàle,” Curly quickly commented, “Well, we got something more to give and that something is what the young American people want – they just don’t know what that something is!”
Tip Top Vaudeville had to perform outside their usual theatrical stage venue, so a Del Playa party house was used instead. Most of the audience didn’t know what was going on, what these “freaks” were doing at the party or even know what vaudeville was in the first place.
“Vaudeville? That’s the really cheap cheese we melt for nachos!” one student commented.
“We know young people protest against things deemed ‘unusual,’ at first,” Curly states. “But after awhile, the youth will want more and more of vaudeville, just like crack or Pringles. Consider vaudeville like Pringles and there you have it.”
So the show got rolling with Suzie and the Mule. Her act simply consisted of five minutes of her dancing around, being kicked by the mule. And of course, this act killed the UCSB students with laughter and hysteria. “Did you see that mule?!” UCSB student Brent Hissler rejoiced. “She danced and danced and the mule kicked and kicked! Only in Isla Vista do you get to hang out with a mule at a party. This town is ridiculous silly!”
Brent later tried to feed the mule some beer, but was kicked unconscious in the face, missing the entire party. Next act was a very short man, Binky Bink. He tapped danced his way across the beer-stained living room floor with style and charisma. Again, the students loved little Binky Bink.
“That little guy was so cool,” said a staggering, drunk Jeff Gibbert. “It was like a 3-year-old acting like a 12-year-old! Weird!”
Binky Bink is actually 14 and a legally a midget. But, after the first two acts, it looked as though vaudeville was really turning on the UCSB students. Everything started to change when the next act came on. With an orchestra playing behind him, Babe Ruth wobbled on stage swinging his arms at his sides and shouting out baseball terms: “Strike one! Strike two! Foul ball! Another foul ball! Streaker on the field! He’s outta there!”
“Babe Ruth can hit a ball far, but entertainment is not his thing,” says sociology major Jennifer Milton. “I thought he was dead.”
The audience was further disappointed when the World’s Largest Man came out 150 pounds lighter after shedding the pounds during a recent two-year diet fad of celery and grapefruit. The disappointment continued with the man dressed in a women’s dress, wearing a big, red feather boa draped around his neck. He became insulted when a student shouted, “Queen bitch!” Obviously not understanding the David Bowie reference, he stormed off the stage and sat in the bathroom.
The show continued to spiral downhill from there. Other acts included A. Pobbins pulling numerous home appliances out of his deep coat pockets, a man playing the piano, followed by a man eating the piano and then a man regurgitating a piano. The UCSB students were disgusted.
Still, Curly Malone is still optimistic about vaudeville’s attempt at gaining success in America today, “Vaudeville IS entertainment. Next to porn and cigarettes, it’s the purest form of fun. The show must go on. With or without Isla Poopsta!” It seemed that everyone was too drunk to care and quickly turned their attention to the TV when “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” came on.