Monday, October 15, 2012

When Musicals Procreate

Good Monday,

As I’ve said before, I’m a big musical theatre buff.

NOTE: “Theatre” is the correct spelling of “theatre.” Don’t let those non-artsy-fartsy people who spell it “theater” fool you.

Anyway, this week I’m focusing on a YouTube video. The summer after my freshman year of college, I was in “Fiddler on the Roof.” I played Grandmother Tzeitel and ever since have developed a propensity to be cast as dead people in musicals. A couple of years later, I went to New York with my high school drama club and saw “Avenue Q.”

For those who aren’t familiar with these two—a bit of background.

“Fiddler on the Roof” tells the story of a Jewish Russian man (Tevye) his wife (Golde) and their family surviving in tsarist Russia as Jews. Tevye believes in tradition, and the entire show centers around him having to give up his deeply held beliefs to adjust to a changing world. Some changes are more difficult to cope with than others.

“Avenue Q” is basically “Sesame Street” for adults. It’s a part human, part human operated puppet show about life on Avenue Q and the challenges that the street’s residents face. It’s without doubt a comedy and focuses mainly on conflicts of romance, money, and interest.

The video I am talking about today combines these two musicals. For World AIDS Day in 2005, the original Broadway cast of “Avenue Q” and the revival cast of “Fiddler on the Roof” got together and presented a ten minute spoof of the two musicals combined entitled “Avenue Jew.” I was introduced to “Avenue Jew” after seeing “Avenue Q” on Broadway and thought it was amazing.

“Avenue Jew” picks up with Tevye’s family (now him, Golde, and their two youngest daughters) when they arrive in America after the closing of “Fiddler on the Roof.” They stumble onto Avenue Jew, which is inhabited by Jewish versions of the “Avenue Q” characters. Songs from both musicals are incorporated into the spoof, and Ben Brantley makes an appearance at the end.

Watch it here.

K, now that you’ve watched it, if you think I have a terrible sense of humor, feel free to stop reading my blog. But I see nothing wrong with what this wonderful Broadway talent has put together. For anyone who has seen either or both of the parent musicals, this spoof stays true to both with its jokes. For those who haven’t seen either, there is enough original content so that seeing the parent shows is not mandatory to get a laugh. Though it does help.

In terms of all the Jewish jokes, if you see or listen to the soundtrack of “Avenue Q,” you hear that it pokes fun at a variety of races and cultures. I’m not in agreement with hate crimes or prejudice. “Avenue Q” does make a very good point with one of its songs--“Everyone’s a Little bit Racist.” Listen to the song. It’s kind of true. Most people, whether they realize it or not, participate in some form of racism.

Hence why I’m all right with the content of “Avenue Jew.” It’s just what “Avenue Q” does.

What’s my favorite part of “Avenue Jew?”
Involving Bryan and Hanukkah Eve (Christmas Eve in “Avenue Q.”) Bryan (in “Fiddler on the Roof” style) sings to Hanukkah Eve “Do you love me?”
Hanukkah Eve’s response: “No.”


Writer’s Lockbox
As promised, every Monday from last week on will have a section at the end outlining what can be taken from the analyzed media for our own writing.

-Comedy: Timing is everything. If jokes involve making a reference, try and make references to things that your target audience is likely to know about.

-Mind different beliefs. As I said, I’m a very open person, and my sense of humor encompasses a lot of things other people might not find funny. I’m not telling you to sensor your writing. I’m saying to be mindful of your audience and the affect you want to have on them.

See you out of the box,

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