Subsidized Corn @ Gluttony (Carry On Theatre)
5:00pm, Sun 6 Mar 2011
Subsidized Corn are a collection of improv performers hailing from Washington DC; if my memory serves me correctly, they just happened to be in Australia around Fringe-time for one of the members’ (they like to call themselves “Kernels”) wedding, and decided a little side-trip to Adelaide for a few gigs was in order.
The Carry On was maybe only a quarter-full this sticky afternoon, and it was not a pleasant tent to hang about it. A plethora of electric fans helped the air-flow through the tent, but had the unwanted side-effect of drowning out some of the softer voices of the Subsidized Corn crew. Worse still, the crowd that did turn up were pretty lethargic and uninvolved; when the Kernels sprang onto the stage, bouncing around and trying to fill the place with energy, they tried to get the audience involved by asking for the name of an object.
Anxious to help them out – to not see that energy fall flat – I yelled out the first thing that came to mind:
As soon as I said it, I regretted it. Potato? Seriously – I was well aware that my body was telling me a good carb-loading was required, but… what a fucking stupid thing to say.
But they ran with it. And sure, it wasn’t the funniest scene ever improvised, but there’s only so much you can do with crap source material… and it was certainly entertaining.
Luckily, later audience suggestions (yes, they did get involved eventually) proved to be better fodder – Julia Gillard and Bob Brown being thrown into a tryst – and the underlay for a lot of the scenes became inherently political… which is where I suspect Subsidized Corn are in their element.
An oddball “Pirates landing at Malibu” scene rounded out the performance, which seemed largely out-of-character with the rest of their work; they’d made a real effort to be locally relevant and topical, and that sketch just seemed to be a fallback to stuff they’d do back home. Still, it was performed with the same enthusiasm and quick-wittedness that was imbued in the rest of the show, leaving me in no doubt that Subsidized Corn are an enjoyable improv troupe.
After the show I bumped into a few of the Kernels outside on the Gluttony grass and, as I am wont to do, had a bit of a chat with Darnell Eaton (a lovely bloke). Despite my frothing raves about the bits that I’d really enjoyed, he admitted that they thought the gig wasn’t really up to snuff – not by their own (seemingly lofty) standards. The conversation ended soon after another woman came up to talk about the show… and wound up directing all her questions to me. Weird!