So, the theory was this: what if every team at iO (and there’s usually about 30) wrote a sketch or performance piece once and then performed it once a week? Or even more logically, what if half of them did it one week and the other half prepared for the next week? A new show every week!
To me, it was a grand idea to give stage time and a new creative outlet for the 300-odd (and I do mean “odd”) people on the teams. To make it more inclusive I decided to allow current students and iO alumni to submit material as well. Good move, that.
I tried to get it started years ago, but the only slot we could get was on a Thursday and I felt that wasn’t going to work out for this kind of show. Finally, Charna asked me if there might a political-based show for Saturdays at 10:30pm and I, as programmed, said, “Yes, and…”
That was one year ago when SATURDAY/Saturday was born.
I had open pitch meeting several times a week where any once could come and talk with me and pitch their ideas. These were, uh, sparsely attended at the beginning. One of the very, very best things to come out of it was Erin Schaut. She came to a meeting without an idea, but as we talked and did some funny bits we came up with a great song for her to do. And that, to me, was the whole point of the enterprise.
The Chicago Tribune said:
“Saturday/Saturday” is like a post-modernist take on “The Ed Sullivan Show” with a topical spin. Hosted by Chin, the show features a rotating lineup of musicians, magicians, comedians and audience-participation game-show routines, many with an overt political bent.
On the night I attended, an audience member had to choose which biographical factoids and quotes belonged to which of two famous Wisconsinites: GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, or serial killer/cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer. Also, at risk of “deportation,” a panel of three young women from the audience answered questions taken from the test given to prospective U.S. citizens. I’ve also seen this gambit used in the long-running occasional late-night variety show “The Game Show Show … and Stuff.”
From the results at iO, I’d say beer and retention of high-school civics and history do not mix.
Fears about the future came out in song form with the trio the Shock T’s, who expressed their angst about being in the 99 percent. “What’s it like to have a dining room? I eat waffles over the sink.”
They also delivered a sardonic view on our age of social networking with “half-grieving,” in which they pondered the etiquette of dealing with the death of someone you only sorta-kinda know — especially if the deceased has defriended you on Facebook before their untimely demise.
Not everything had a topical slant. John Sturk, magic’s answer to John Hodgman, charmed the audience with mind-bending feats involving metal rings and steely asides.
And if there is indeed a war on women, one would do well to bet on Erin Schaut to be the last one standing. In the edgiest portion of the evening, Schaut’s rage-infused folkie interrogated members of the audience about their own relationships with take-no-prisoners glee. No matter who wins in November, somebody always goes home with a broken heart — and somebody else figures out how to laugh about it.
It was nice to hear. Charna came to the show and loved it, which was also gratifying after the long battle for me to get that 10:30 slot.
One of the advantages of changing the show each week was the ability to address topical events. One of my favorites was when Shane Wilson (of Whirled News Tonight) gave a heartfelt monologue on the death of Neil Armstrong. After the show the audience was treated to free glasses of Tang.
Personally, I really enjoy writing and hosting the little trivia segments in the middle of the show. Every body wins a ridiculous prize and goes home happy. The more stuff we can give out during the show, the better was my theory.
Anyway, it’s been one full year of doing SATURDAY/Saturday and it’s been exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. Tim Lyons, Damian White and Adam Kurschat did the tech, which is a crazy thing with new light and sound cue each week—learning of them usually 30 minutes before the show. Some weeks; lights up and lights down. Some weeks; 12 music cues and 3 blackouts and that’s just one piece. So thank you guys!!
There are dozens of people I want to thank and most of them were students at iO when they started participating and now most of them are on teams, and/or doing other sketch shows as well. Maria Wojciechowski was the host for the one show I missed due to illness. She’s a great performer.
Thanks to everyone and thanks to SATURDAY/Saturday for being hilarious and weird and fun. Hope we come back soon!