Last night at Buntport Theater was a lot like that Phil Collins song where he watches that guy drown: I'd been waiting for this moment for all my life. The tension in the air like balloon static. The smell of sweat. The smell of tears. The smell, verily, of the great debate. At stake, aside from the millions of human lives, was one of life's most persistent questions: Which is better -- bacon or Kevin Bacon?
I knew before I even walked in that I was behind enemy lines as Buntport liaison Brian Colonna took an informal door poll and answer after answer came in the same: bacon. When he came to me, I had my answer ready. I'd had it ready since birth, in my very blood. "Kevin Bacon," I said. "To the death."
"People have forgotten what Footloose did for them," he agreed.
It was obvious that I wasn't the only one with strong feelings on the issue. The small theater was packed, people had to be turned away, and during the show, there were people sitting on the floor -- pretty impressive turnout for a Tuesday night. And in a way, it was beautiful -- all these people torn apart by war and fate, people ripped asunder by their preference for either Kevin Bacon or (psh) bacon, coming together to resolve those differences peacefully. Moderator Erin Rollman of Buntport acknowledged that deep divide in her opening remarks, imploring people to have respect for the opposite side.
It was a tough request, but I'd try.
The format was thus: Two teams of four people each, alternating remarks at six-minute intervals for the first portion, then a three-minute rebuttal from each team.
Bacon's Jake Walker, a local actor, took the podium first, wearing a lapel pin made out of bacon, which he later described as "like an AIDS ribbon." Speaking of bacon's civil rights work in the '50s and '60s, Walker told the moving story of the "Million-Strip Inch on Washington" and the "hundreds of 'It Gets Better' videos made by bacon and bacon products."
Which was bullshit, because none of those things ever happened.
Next up on Kevin Bacon's side was Buntport's Evan Weissman, who posed a thought-provoking rhetorical question: "How many countries can you bomb and still get a Nobel Peace Prize? Obama did five, and he still got it. Okay," he admitted, "that was just a digression." He then went into an effective series of ad hominem attacks on the opposing team and showed some pictures of the firebombing of Dresden. After him, bacon's Liberty Gordon, an actress with Impulse Theater, posed that, though bacon may block the arteries to your heart, "Kevin Bacon blocks the arteries to your soul."
Next up, Denise Pimple took the debate in a whole new direction, devoting her six minutes to "six degrees of Kevin Bacon," tracing Kevin Bacon back to Buntport or members of Buntport no fewer than six times. It was as inspiring as it was heartwarming. Following her in a similar vein, local comedian and former Westword writer Adam Cayton-Holland argued that you could apply "six degrees" to anything, and just to prove it, did "six degrees of bacon," tracing East High School alumnus and noted actor Don Cheadle back to the admittedly delicious smoked meat. But he was wrong. And also, he only did it one time instead of six. So much for that theory, Adam Cayton-Holland.
Next, Kevin Bacon's Jim Hunt took it in a totally different direction still, relating an anecdote of how he met Kyra Sedgwick, Kevin Bacon's wife, and how beautiful she was ("She didn't walk; she moved in a way there is no verb for") and argued that if that's his wife, Kevin Bacon is obviously awesome. He then recited a Shakespeare sonnet and linked bacon to criminals.
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That's when a desperate team bacon started cheating. For his segment, Buntport's Eric Edborg brought out an electric fryer and actually cooked bacon while playing a song about bacon on his guitar. But even that was no match for Kevin Bacon's Andrew Orvedahl, who convincingly pointed out that, in fact, there's only one degree between bacon and anyone, and that degree is obesity.
But in spite of team Kevin Bacon's valiant efforts, there was one fact there's no avoiding: Bacon is delicious. So when team bacon revealed that, before the debate, they had taped strips of bacon in plastic bags to the bottom of everybody's chairs, even before the rebuttal, it was pretty clear they'd cinched it. You can make many arguments, but you can't argue with delicious. Bacon won, ten votes ahead. And it would've been nine, but Kevin Bacon people were supposed to stand and be counted, and I didn't stand because I hadn't been paying attention when they explained that part because I was eating bacon. Damn you, bacon!
The Great Debate is part of the Buntport's Third Tuesdays program, where on the third Tuesday of every month, the Buntport folks do something silly. Other conceits include "Teacher's Pet" (next month's offering), where the audience picks a random theme upon which to tell stories, and "Buntport Versus," where the Buntport kids face off against other groups at their own game (past opponents have included the East High School Cheerleaders). In December, they take on the Slam Poet All-Stars. Aside from Third Tuesdays, Buntport starts a new run of Seal. Stamp. Send. Bang, a production Rollman called "a musical comedy we perform without being musical performers," on October 29.
Check Buntport's website for more information.