As a willing participant at Friday night's My Teenage Angst on-stage diary-reading event, I had some pre-show fears: What if my entries weren't as funny as I remembered them being? What if other people's entries weren't funny? What if the whole thing fell apart because someone unintentionally read from a journal that was actually really sad? What if I didn't have anything cute to wear?
Fortunately, none of my jitters were justified.
Organizer and host Megan Nyce was first on the chopping block, cracking open a diary that began with DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince lyrics. She read corresponding entries about her delicate planning and subsequent acquisition of the perfect hairdo for her first day of school: a perm. Three sentences in and the audience was squealing with laughter. This night was going to be good.
Tales of double-crossed lovers told from an abrasive middle-school perspective highlighted the beauty in pre-adult relationship naiveté, while other entries focused on diary-honest egos surfacing around art contests and ROTC scholarships.
One reader's piece revealed a surprising candor that could only come from a high-school voice -- the story of a teacher being fired for fooling around with students. But there was nothing serious in the entry, just an observation of high-school life, and the audience both gasped and cheered at the flippant admission.
Rich, the only gentleman to grace the stage all night, had managed to get his hands on the letters he'd sent to his best friend when he was in college. In a thick East Coast accent, he dropped F-bomb after F-bomb, dissecting the prude and rude air of college girls. "They were the types of girls who were really proud of themselves because they liked to listen to the Cure," he read without pause.
The majority of diaries covered the late '80s and early '90s, but a classic 1969 yearbook dedication laughingly begged a fellow classmate not to "turn hippie." Another reader's journal detailed how she passionately but unsuccessfully sent a letter to Richard Nixon -- because she didn't have his address.
I read from my mid-'90s high-school journals, recounting a very tense situation involving a longtime crush drinking directly from the milk carton -- and my observation of his boyish grossness, which somehow led to a conversation about kissing him. I ended the entry with a poem that included the words "lackluster," "black" and, of course, "death."
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The finale took on a slightly different medium: the love song. Maria Kohler (seen around in local acts like Mercuria and the Gem Stars and Harpoontang) performed "Comets," a high-school talent show-winning song about a boyfriend who -- unbeknownst to her parents -- was hauled off to jail. Kohler's self-described Foo Fighters rip-off was a passionate ode to her "caged" teenage lover, the perfect ending to a night that was, by all accounts, much funnier than I could have anticipated.
If you missed this round of My Teenage Angst, don't freak out. The next edition, "Scorned Lovers," will be held on February 11 at the Art Salon, 2219 East 21st Avenue. For more information on the event and how to participate, visit the My Teenage Angst Facebook.