Portland — Which three-word phrase is going to be hardest to wrest from my head in the post-Bridgetown weeks to come: “stocks and bonds” or “place on plate”?
I’ve heard the former at least three times via former Portlander Matt Braunger. The tall, cherubic comic (his description, not mine) helped found this comedy festival and has been one of the voices most heard throughout this year’s edition. Thankfully Braunger has an amazing view of the world and impeccable comedic delivery that includes adding the right tinge of douche-y entitlement to the phrase “stocks and bonds.”
The most recent time I heard him say it was as part of Kurt Braunohler’s Kurt Tub night at the Bagdad Theater, and even after stomach achingly great sets by the show’s host/namesake as well as Dana Gould, Robert Popper, and Peter Serafinowicz, the phrase still hadn’t lost its weird sting.
For context, it comes out at the end of an extended take on a terrible liquor ad that promotes the Jager Bomb (a shot of Jagermeister dropped in a pint glass of Red Bull, for those of you with dignity and respect for one’s liver and mind) but also urges you to drink responsibly. Braunger imagines a tweed-jacketed enthusiast having a quiet Jager Bomb at a college bar, sipping it and trying to engage the young folks around him. “Mmmmm…I love that chemical draw…kind of like drinking a melted robot. *sip* I feel like my wife doesn’t understand me, you know? Of course you don’t know you’re 19. *sip* Stocks and bonds, everyone, stocks and bonds.”
Reading it, of course, doesn’t do justice to the way Braunger punches that last phrase home. But it should give you some sense of the arch views of the world on display at Kurt Tub, from Gould’s observations (“I think every whistle could be a rape whistle. Except maybe a slide whistle.”) to Popper’s mocked up news story about the death of Margaret Thatcher, which read, in part, that she died at age 87 “after drinking acid, sawing off both her legs, and then setting herself on fire, before jumping into an industrial mincer.” Oh and let’s not forget Braunohler and Serafinowicz’s impromptu make out session onstage.
Now, on to “place on plate.” This one is a little harder to describe without seeing where it came from. The phrase is repeated over and over again in a video Serafinowicz created using a small piece of stock footage of a man carving a chicken. The looped bit of film is then given a skin crawling bit of music and voiceover that ends every time with “place on plate.”
Serafinowicz showed the clip as part of a small interview/celebration of his work with Popper. The two showed a portion of the cult TV show they created Look Around You as well as some of the strange and fantastically funny short films they’ve put online. Instead of locking lips with the pair, Braunohler played moderator, quizzing the two about their working methods, and marveling with the crowd on the pair’s use brilliant use of stock footage and absurdist voiceover.