The Performant: The Real Patriot Act

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Celebrating Freedom of Expression with Tourettes Without Regrets

I’m as susceptible as the next ‘Murican to the social imperative of observing certain time-honored holiday traditions, particularly the ones that involve drinking and blowing shit up, but still I appreciate the opportunity to mix things up in that milieu. Which is why this Fourth of July, heading over to the Oakland Metro for Tourettes Without Regrets was the perfect way to celebrate my inalienable right to get freaky.

Probably the least predictable and therefore most electric variety show in the Bay Area, TWR has been throwing down the gauntlet of weird since 1999, a mad mashup of foul-mouthed comedians and spoken word performers, battle rappers, burlesque beauties, and sheer, unbridled chaos. Can YOU guess what’s in host Jamie DeWolf’s pants? Would you fuck a pie onstage? Compete for the prized “golden dildo”? Participate in a bout of pants-off musical chairs? Be forewarned,
there are no true bystanders at TWR and nobody is innocent.

“Everyone is a part of this fucking event,” warns DeWolf at the top of the show, and although his smile is deceptively genial, the cold steel glint in his watchful eyes tells you he means it.

Freedom of speech is so important to our national identity that it was the first right to be codified in the Bill of Rights, way back in 1791. Of course efforts to chip away at that right have been in play from both sides of the political spectrum ever since, and speech considered to be hateful, obscene, seditious, or libelous has been under almost continual attack for centuries. And though much of Tourettes Without Regrets keeps its tongue firmly planted in cheek (any cheek), a paranoid visitor from planet normal could get nervous about the broadness of the show’s interpretation of protected expression.

Dirty Haiku and a sexy pie-eating contest (won handily by a lesbian couple) could easily be viewed in the heartland as obscene, rude Battle Rap as slander, a downright lascivious fantasy about hate-humping Sarah Palin and a joyous spot of burlesque flag-burning as borderline seditious. No stranger to the controversial, the charismatic DeWolf provides as much distraction as direction, deploying an arsenal of colorful tangents and unflinching observations, gleefully pushing the buttons of anyone within earshot, and at some point almost everyone in the freewheeling oddience has at least one chance to squirm uncomfortably beneath the onslaught of freedom we are fortunate enough to take for granted.

Special July 4th additions to the evening’s festivities include a spontaneous shower of sparklers, burlesque dancers in camouflage and red-white-and-blue toting guns and six-packs of cheap beer, and a guest appearance by the Bay Area’s finest amateur wrestling and performance troupe, Hoodslam, who provided their signature wrestling ring to be the event stage, as well as a couple of whirlwind melees involving some of their most iconic players including Johnny Drinko Butabi (sporting stars-and-bars tights with wild fringe), the preternaturally handsome Anthony Butabi, the user-friendly Stoner Brothers, the perpetual user Drugz Bunny, the menacingly masked Scorpion, and the formidable Ultragirl.

And because nothing spells M-U-R-I-C-A so much as conspicuous consumption and wanton destruction, a bout of toilet paper dodgeball involving the entire crowd “wrapped up” the evening in one delightfully riotous exemplar of our constitutional right to make asses of ourselves in public. Now that’s independence!

First Thursdays
8:30pm, $10
Oakland Metro
630 Third Street, Oakl.
www.touretteswithoutregrets.com

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