PF14 Artist Snapshot – EXTENDED INTERVIEW EDITION – Crowbait Club presents “Juicy Bits 2: The Fast and the Fatuous”

NOTE: PortFringe will be profiling PF14 Artists and their shows on this blog in the weeks leading up to the festival (June 24-29, 2014). The next snapshot is of Crowbait Club – a monthly gathering of playwrights and actors in Portland, and a PortFringe artist for the second time. It was great fun to hear more from Crowbait Club co-founder (and playwright) Michael Tooher in this extended snapshot.

Artist: Crowbait Club
Show: The Juicy Bits 2: The Fast and the Fatuous
Description: Fat·u·ous adjective 1.silly and pointless. Also stupid, inane,foolish, idiotic, vacuous, asinine etc…You literally cannot make this stuff up but you can join us and have a swell time making fun of the celebrities who utter this nonsense. The Juicy Bits returns with more celebrity musings, comedy, a game show and the electrocution of a member of the audience just for fun. The show is completely devised by its cast each night. When they feel like it.It is not suitable for children, even smart clever ones who photograph well. Come to think of it, it may not even be suitable for adults. You are just gonna have to take that risk. Be forewarned that there are moments in the show where the audience must duck quickly.

PF: Welcome back to PortFringe! It’s great to have you and your “Juicy Bits” back on the PF schedule after your success in 2013. Tell us something we don’t know about you and your PortFringe show. 

MT: All the best ideas are stolen ones said Big Willy every day. I stole the idea for the show back in the late 70’s from someone in an alley near Bourbon Street, gave it a cutesy name and haven’t looked back since. As for the show itself, it is completely devised. The cast finds material they like, we meet the night before to decide the running order, fight bitterly, and then it’s go time. Our overall artistic concept this year is “artillery.”

PF: As part of preparing for this interview, I glanced at People Magazine in the Shaw’s check-out line. The top bit of celebrity news was James Van der Beek showing us how to make a “Simple” summer salad. What is it about celebrities (and our fascination with them)?

MT: James Van der Beek is a celebrity?
He sounds like an ornithologist to me.

America has an endless celebrity boner because we never had royalty thus we never came to the realization that royalty is essentially parasitic. Although we did try to remedy that by crowning George Washington king. He wasn’t with it.

PF: Do you have a favorite celebrity sighting story?

MT: I was a stagehand for years so I have a treasure trove of memories of poor celebrity behavior. Diana Ross kicked me in the ribs once. 

However my favorite is a positive one. I was studying at King Alfred College in Winchester and was taking the night train home out of London’s Waterloo Station after seeing Amadeus at the National Theatre. I went to sit down and the fellow in the seat next to me was Paul Scofield who played Salieri. He was eating an orange. By all my twitching and stuttering he must have known I had just seen the show.

He was incredibly gracious as we rode the train home. He was the very definition of the English tradition of a “workman artist” Art just happens to be the job you do. It’s not a big deal and you don’t carry on like it is.

PF: If you could hand pick someone to read an excerpt from your hypothetical autobiography, who would you pick and why?

MT: [Crowbait Club Co-Founder] Cullen McGough. He has the ability to read something completely sincerely and completely cynically at the same time. It’s a superpower only given to Irish rogues.

PF: Your show makes me ponder the autobiography as an art form. What do you think makes a successful autobiography? How old should someone be before writing one? Or is it less about age and more about the things you’ve accomplished/witnessed? If someone (like Miley Cyrus!!!) writes an autobiography at age 16, can (should?) she have a chance to write a second autobiography later on? Your thoughts?

MT: I believe Little Prince Georgie was working on his first draft of his autobio after 90 days in the womb. (Tentative title: Why the Hell Is It So Dark In Here?) So I guess the answer is whenever you can get some sucker to pay for it is when you should write it. 

As for Ms. Cyrus, she is writing her autobio every day in real time on Twitter and having the best late adolescence anyone ever had ever. More power to her, she’s already written about a quarter of the show for us.

PF: Speaking of writing. You’re a writer! Crowbait is full of writers! Can you talk a little bit about how the work you do during the year contrasts with what Crowbait chooses to do for PortFringe?

MT: Crowbait Club is a lot of different things for people, a party for the theatre community, a contest, and an opportunity to present and perform in an admittedly raucous atmosphere. Our sole goal was to give people an opportunity to express themselves and to bring actors and playwrights together. Considering we have about 250 – 10 minute plays in circulation we feel it’s successful. We don’t believe that art is an elitist activity, we believe it is a playground for anyone interested.

As for our outside projects, we just sort of fall into them together. We really wanted to be a part of Port Fringe but didn’t want to work too hard. The Juicy Bits is the result. All under our overarching philosophical concept of “if other people will do the work for you, let them.”

PF: What’s next for Crowbait Club? Any post-Fringe things you’d like to tell the world about?

MT: We are having a meeting tonight to discuss that very issue.

PF: What are you most looking forward to about PortFringe 2014?

MT: The sheer splendid diversity of it all. And having to make the tough decisions about what to see because CBC has friends in almost everything. 

PF: Indulge us as we get a bit philosophical: What does the term “Fringe Theater” mean to you?

MT: Artists working without a net.

PF: And as we get even more existential: Why is theater important?

MT: To paraphrase Nietzsche, “We have theatre in order not to die of the truth.”

PF: Lobster or Steak? Discuss.

MT: Both! But only as a hell garnish on one of those gigantic 5000 calorie Bloody Marys. I’ll have two please.

PF: Let’s fantasize that celebrities hate being celebrities. What do you think Kim Kardashian might rather be doing with her life?

MT: She would be a lion tamer. A very sparkly lion tamer with lots and lots of circus boyfriends.

PF: You can ask ONE celebrity ONE question. Who’s it gonna be, and what are you gonna ask ‘em?

MT: George Armstrong Custer.
And the question would be “What the fuck were you thinking?!”


Tuesday, June 24 at 10:00pm – PSC Storefront Theater

for more information about PortFringe, visit