Yes, in one of the odder twists of life, Mrs. Robbo and I have been invited to attend a performance of “Jerry Springer: The Opera” tomorrow night. The story, apparently, is that Jerry is killed on the set of his show and then visits Heaven and hell. Or something. Says reviewer Gary McMillan:

Attention is bound to be paid to this extraordinary production. Like the cast recording of Avenue Q (”The Internet Is for Porn”), your [sic] not likely to play Jerry Springer: The Opera on your computer at work, but I defy you to rid your mind of songs “Talk to the Hand,” “This is My Jerry Springer Moment,” “Mama Give Me Smack on the A**hole,” “Eat, Excrete and Watch TV,” and “Jerry Eleison”.

Now you’ve probably heard two things about the show. First, that it was a major success in London, running over 600 performances and winning major theatre awards. Second, there have been spirited protests concerning the “religious” depictions in the show, including attempts to stop a national television broadcast and to intimidate local theaters into cancelling productions. This situation reminds me of the first time I saw the movie Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? on television. An opening screen displayed a warning to the effect that some sensitive individuals might find the content and language offensive or objectionable. Which, of course, is exactly the opposite, psychologically speaking. Insensitive folks might well be up in arms, but only “sensitive” individuals would UNDERSTAND the work.

Jerry Springer: The Opera has something to offend everyone, to be sure, if you are of a mind to take offense. This is an hilarious satire of a slice of real-life Americana. It’s a two and a half hour window into popular culture and mass audience taste (and I use the term loosely). Sally Jesse, Montel, Maury, Dr. Phil and so on. God love ‘em all, I hope each one gets an opera of his own.

Yes, Mr. McMillan, ain’t it cool? Let’s display our sophistication by being as vulgar and irreverent as possible! It’s satire, after all, so anything goes! Let’s bait those bourgeois sticks-in-the-mud and dare them to object! Ha, ha! They’ll never do it because the last thing they want anyone to think is that they are somehow…..insensitive to “Real” Art!

Puh. Leeeeze.

Honestly, doesn’t the avant-garde get, well, bored with constantly dropping its pants in front of us and demanding that we be shocked? Then again, I used to wonder the same thing about three-year-olds.

So why on earth are we going, do you ask? Well, because we were asked by some folks who are trying to make an effort to be friends and who genuinely believe that we will find the thing interesting and funny, and we don’t want to be churlish in the face of their hospitality. (I’m hoping that by maintaining this attitude throughout and basically ignoring the barbs that will be hurled from the stage, I can avoid having to go to Confession again on Saturday – I just went yesterday – but somehow I don’t know if that’s going to work out.)

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