April 1, 2011

August Pollak's education advice for incoming college freshmen

If you are considering attending a college that pays $32,000 for someone named "Snooki" to talk about how she's on television, do not attend that particular college.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 4:58 PM

March 30, 2011

Fest and Fist

Seen here: a dumbass.

These are my two souvenirs of BaconFest: a volunteer t-shirt and my smashed right thumb. They are both the reason there's no comic this week.

So I live in Atlanta. I've lived here for almost three years now and I realized after the events of this weekend that I never actually talked about why I lived here.

For the first year, it would have been because of the amazing, once in a lifetime job I was offered--literally a dream come true that I gave up my career in DC for in an instant. Why it was only the first year isn't that interesting a story--the economy is terrible and quite often, people lose jobs because of it, even dream ones. I have no plans to ever talk about that particular dead unicorn, but I'll be happy to talk about what came after it.

I'm way overdue to talk about why I've stayed for another two years after that and why I hope I don't have to leave for a long time, and that's Dad's Garage, the awesome improv theatre here in Atlanta that has kept me sane. Which, given the rest of this post, seems like a very strange statement.

I'm pretty sure when most people think of Atlanta and its place on a list of high cultural content, that placement rises about as much as the South did during the war where said city was completely burned to the ground. Well you would be mistaken: Atlanta has a thriving artistic community, from music to galleries to PBR. Hipsters! We got 'em!

But the art we're going to talk about today is the comedy that comes out of Dad's Garage. Founded 16 years ago by a handful of Florida college students, it's now a surprisingly successful (defined as "still afloat after 16 years") nonprofit theatre that puts on two shows three nights a week. I could write an entire post about everything they do and in fact let me just make a note here to do that.

Being a nonprofit is tough. The term itself is deceptive: the truth is, you can't make no profit or else you have to stop owning a building. Which brings me to BaconFest.

BaconFest is everything great about Atlanta condensed into six hours. It's a ton of local artists and businesses offering to donate food and services to help a valuable part of the artistic community thrive: one thousand pounds of bacon. Tickets and gift certificates to attractions and businesses around Atlanta. Lots of beer. It would play an important role in later events.

So here's how an improv comedy theatre raises money: you get a bunch of lunatics and have them organize a carnival. You have to of course consider the shoestring budget of a local independent theatre in this, so forget about Ferris wheels or pony rides or for that matter not having it in your theatre's parking lot. Dad's Garage works on the cheap, which is helpful when your resources on hand to produce a day's entertainment are slightly above those of Our Gang. So instead, you let the powers combine of comedy, carpentry, creativity, alcoholism and heart to form the Captain Planet that is BaconFest. For one glorious afternoon brave, hungry and/or drunk Atlantans enjoy only the best in makeshift entertainment for anywhere from 25 to 100 dollars depending on if you want to eat a handful of bacon and a beer or all the bacon you can hold with your non-beer-holding hand.

Entertainment like "In Your Face Painting," where guests get dirty words scribbled on their faces. And "Hobo Wine Tasting"--a chance to experience only the finest of the bottom shelf at Kroger (my personal fave: the cream-peach Manischewitz). There is "The Dunk Tank," which is a dunk tank. And let's not forget "Ask Dr. Boobies," board of director member Khari's chance to show off his unique prowess in accurately guessing any woman's bra size.

The most popular event this year, however, was the "Wheelchair Obstacle Course." Turn that corner! Do that 360 around that traffic cone! Pick up that object with a grabbing claw and run it over to that bucket! That's right, Atlanta--now you too can see if your skills are as fine tuned as an actual handicapped person.

They are not.

I completed the course in one minute, six seconds. Tommy, event host and actual handicapped person, could do it in :35. Tommy, event host and actual handicapped person, was also a handicapped person prior to the event, as opposed to me, who handicapped himself during the course. In retrospect, perhaps I should not have worn a long-sleeve hoodie while running the course that would make my sleeve get caught in the wheel and pull my thumb right into the wheel gear and crush it oh and maybe I also shouldn't have gotten into a wheelchair drunk and desperate to pilot it as fast as possible because Tommy, event host and actual handicapped person, was screaming at me about my manhood the entire time. He was also, most likely, drunk.

So, yes, that's the story. I meant to write this all up on Sunday but things kept getting delayed and honestly, you have no idea how hard it is to try typing while wearing this thing. But yes. I smashed my thumb in a drunken carnival game. I injured myself... because I sat in a wheelchair.

BaconFest is the greatest day of the year, and the worst part of this story is that it's 362 days until the next one. Buy your tickets now and plan your trip accordingly.

And wear a t-shirt.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 1:27 PM