The Trailer Park Boys have been an underground favorite for years. With seven successful TV seasons and at least three feature movies, the infectious and dysfunctional saga of Julian, Ricky, Bubbles, and Jim Lahey have kept us laughing from beginning to end. The low-fi mockumentary concept of a group of trailer dwellers let out of jail and followed around by a camera crew as they attempt to complete rehab and straighten out their lives is hilarious.
Each character has its own vitality and spotlight power, but as a team they have become an unstoppable comedic force. Their attempts at making intelligent decisions and going “legit” are like watching a car crash, with each new foray into marijuana dealing, horrible personal decisions or liquor store robbery, leaving the boys falling into the dirt face first. As Jim Lahey would say, “When you plant shit seeds you get shit weeds.”
When I was told they were coming to Red Bank to perform their show, I had to get my hands on some tickets to see how these TV kings would make the transfer to a live stage. It was kind of surreal to witness this performance at the Count Basie Theatre. The Basie is as regal as theatres come. It is also usually packed with high brow clientele in house for one of the many top acts or orchestra shows that have made it world famous. However, tonight its regal seats were packed with comatose troglodytes all loaded with props, beers, and an enthusiastic talent for falling all over me as they made their alcoholic way in, then out, then in, then out of the rows of beer spattered seats.
The stage itself was draped in black and completely void of props. One Marshall Amp sat off in the corner against a high partition that served as the hiding spot for the beginning of the fun. That beginning was the sound of a bong being drawn on and puppets. That’s right, puppets. A Bubbles puppet (I especially liked the little shopping cart attached to Bubble’s arm) popped up to begin his animated tongue-in-cheek message on the dangers of drugs and alcohol. The catalyst of this show was that they were here under legal duress to perform an anti-drug campaign as part of their “rehabilitation.”
The “Ricky, Julian, and Bubbles Community Service Variety Show” sign told it all. The boys used the over-the-top puppets to try to read drug prevention scripts with super stoner results. The trio traded “high as a kite” one-liners about rum, hash, and banging Ernie and Burt before the whole thing turned into a simulated drug induced argument ending with Ricky (Rob Wells) saying, “Fuck this. I’m fucking done. Have fun in here by yourself, Bubbles,” as he walked onto to the stage to roars of approval.
One by one, Bubbles (Mike Smith) and Julian (John Paul Tremblay) also came out to join Ricky and comment on the size of the crowd. They had the lights turned up to rabid howls from their loyal legions.
Throughout the next hour and a half, the boys went through skits that included a guitar shredding contest that showcased some of the very worst players in New Jersey on stage and battling for a spot to play lead.
The ensuing noodling and caterwauling ended with the winner playing the world’s most catastrophic lead in the middle of the Bubbles mainstay, “Liquor And Whores.” A funny moment was when the participant tried to sneak a solo in the outro and Bubbles said, “What the fuck are you doing? Shut the fuck up!” It was something we’ve all wanted to say to guys like that but have never had the chance to do so.
Another show highlight (Lowlight) was the “Red Bank’s Best Party Girl” contest, where the girls competed in joint rolling, a rum transfer, beer chugging, and, finally, kitty turd eating, where they bobbed in containers of granola (it did look like kitty litter) for bite-sized chocolate kitty poops. Their mothers were probably quite proud.
I did enjoy the Cory and Trevor contest where two members of the rambunctious audience were chosen to perform stage work and humiliating tasks in costume much to the delight of the crowd. Though, throughout the night, Bubbles remained the focus and the star. I was disappointed that Ricky wasn’t smoking cigarettes although he did simulate his fair share of drinking while weaving a tapestry of profanities that are still orbiting the planet as we speak. Julian, my favorite Trailer Park Boy, basically stood around like a totem pole, handing out props and guiding Bubbles, like a tiger through his circus hoops.
Not that there was a lot to do, the live show could never convey the true comic genius of the movies or the series, but perhaps next time Julian could have a real glass of rum in his hand. Ricky’s attempt to hypnotize the crowd under the guise of Australian stage hypnotist and illusionist Raveen was funny but didn’t add up to finale material in my book. Finale material would have been the reenactment of the Patrick Swayze train caper, but I digress.
Missing tonight were Jim Lahey (John Dunsworth) and Randy (Patrick Roach), both of whom would have made this show 100 percent better in a live setting. All in all, the entire crowd ate it up and the show wasn’t the worst live comedy skit I’ve ever seen. I find it odd that guys with such a successful show would want to pull the plug on the big screen while continuing to do it in a live setting, but I guess they need to pay bills too.
The boys have actually set their production sights on another series called The Drunk And On-Drugs Happy Funtime Hour. Familiar territory always works best and from what I hear, so far, they have found another winning vehicle on their quest for laughs.
I know that you have to bend to supply and demand with an audience and genre like this, and the TV series really made me a fan, but in the end, as far as the live show goes, I’d have to agree with my ole’ pal Officer Jim Lahey, who once so eloquently said, “The liquor is calling the shots Randy.”
For more on The Trailer Park Boys head over to trailerparkboys.org.
TM Stevens At The Brighton Bar On June 16
If I could describe TM Stevens with one quick label, it would be “gentleman musician.” Why? Because this New Jersey bass king has done it all. He has played and recorded with some of the music world’s top performers, been through the musical ringer, and still remains a class act. Both humble and dedicated, Stevens won’t hesitate to lend a hand to a budding musician or a charity in need. Add the fact that he continues to do what he truly loves best and you have a man with a successful existence to date.
Just to give you a quick idea, Stevens has worked with award-winning stars like Whitney Houston, Steve Vai, Cindy Lauper, Little Steven, Tina Turner and Billy Joel to name a select few.
Stevens and his band will be taking over the Brighton stage along with special guests the Matt O’Ree Band. This combination guarantees a gathering of gear heads, techies and guitar freaks as well as long-time fans of both bands. An eclectic and outstanding night brought to you by those fine folks at the Brighton. Check it out at brightonbar.com.