November 17, 2017 – The first public screening of a new movie featuring the 40th anniversary shows of San Francisco comedy troupe Duck’s Breath Mystery Theatre is this Sunday 7 p.m. as part of the Nevada Theatre Film Series in downtown Nevada City.
Tickets for this KVMR 89.5 FM benefit show are just $8 at the door. Advance tickets are available at http://sierratheatres.com/
In addition to its onstage work, Duck’s Breath also achieved notoriety on National Public Radio with characters from mile-a-minute sneer artist Ian Shoales (on “All Things Considered” and KVMR) and Dr. Science (a daily “misinfotainment” Q&A satire). Meanwhile, Randee of The Redwoods was an MTV icon during the ’80s and the network’s “Presidential candidate” in 1988. Really.
The new film concentrates on a rapid-fire series of Duck’s Breath short sketches. The quintet contort themselves into famous works of art from “The Birth of Venus” to “Nude Descending A Staircase,” perform a used car opera to impress a skeptical customer, turn a simple box into a multi-use product on late night television and commit a non-stop, nonsensical array of other absurdities, mostly filmed at Berkeley’s Freight and Salvage in 2015.
In addition to that footage, the movie has archival material from vintage sketches, plus short interviews with troupe members.
Duck’s Breath troupe member Bill Allard and his son Richard — the film’s co-director/producers — will join troupe manager Steve Baker (also KVMR’s Program Director) for a brief post-movie Q&A.
Once called “an American Monty Python” by Newsweek Magazine, Duck’s Breath originally started in Iowa City in 1975 as a lively “new vaudeville” act featuring recycled costumes, odd props and flying non sequiturs as the group spawned such one-act shows as “Gonad The Barbarian,” “A Midwestern Night’s Dream,” “Senseless Cruelty: A Ravioli Western” and “A Cliff Note’s Hamlet.”
Landing in San Francisco in 1976, Duck’s Breath became part of San Francisco’s fabled ’70s busking scene regularly appearing at such locales as The Cannery, Ghiradelli Square and Fisherman’s Wharf. They soon made their way into headlining Haight clubs and later The Boarding House, Great American Music Hall and eventually onto the national touring scene.
“Outrageously funny…their humor is cerebral and imaginative,” said The Washington Post when the troupe played a top D.C. club not too long after they began regularly contributing sketches and satirical commentaries to NPR’s “All Things Considered” throughout the ’80s. Two members also created the “Ask Dr. Science” series of “misinfotainment” that aired on over 200 public radio stations during a marathon 20-year-run.
“There is a thin line between ignorance and arrogance,” Dr. Science would claim, “and only I have managed to erase that line.”
Besides Allard, troupe members include Jim Turner (Randee), Merle Kessler ( Ian Shoales), Dan Coffey (Dr. Science) and Leon Martell (the beleaguered art instructor and Caffeine Zombie).
“You absolutely won’t want to miss Randee of the Redwoods,” hyped manager Baker. “And that’s no hype.”
A common question they got during their touring days was, duh, what Duck’s Breath smells like.
“Minnows and garlic,” according to Kessler.
WHO: KVMR 89.5 FM & the Nevada Theatre Film Series
WHAT: KVMR Benefit Premiere of “Duck’s Breath Grand Finale” Film of comedy troupe’s last stage shows
WHEN: Sunday, Nov. 19, at 7 p.m. (one showing only)
WHERE: Nevada Theatre, 401 Broad St., downtown Nevada City
TRAILER (90 seconds): <http://sierratheaters.com/movie/260889/Ducks-Breath-Mystery-Theatre-> and click on WATCH PREVIEW.
You can also buy tickets at this web address.