Everything is Terrible Lives Up to Its Name

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Everything is Terrible members dressed as dogs for a brief song and dance sequence.
  • Josh Gross
  • Everything is Terrible members dress as dogs for a brief song-and-dance sequence.

Chicago-based absurdist film and performance art project Everything is Terrible made a stop at Neurolux on Feb. 7, and made a pretty good attempt at living up to its name.

The show featured a series of found videos, salvaged from VHS tapes purchased at thrift stores and recut into savagely honest mirrors reflecting our media culture. The bill included everything from PSAs reminding you to buckle up and not talk to strangers, to dance lessons that seemed straight out of Napoleon Dynamite. And then there were the star wipes! Entertainment value totally unmatched.

At least it seemed that way at the outset.

After a series of entertaining introductory shorts, including an incredibly bizarre sequence from a Christian kids' show about a walking computer whose Bible verses get scrambled and some clips from Annie Sprinkle's Sluts and Goddesses Video Workshop, a dog-ear-clad emcee took the stage to make a few announcements about the main event: Doggie Woggiez! Poochie Woochiez! All Dogs Go on Tour.

"Leave your pagers on in case your weed guy calls," he said. "If you see a dog, I want you all to lose your shit."

His final instruction: "If you see a dogcatcher, boo like your voices are bullets piercing his cold dog-catcher heart."

The one-third-full Neurolux responded with examples of both, and the emcee began the show.

And that's when the hour-long onset of a panic attack started. After a brief interlude featuring the filmmakers in dog costumes performing a song and skit, a feature-length film of found footage focusing on dogs began. It boasted clips from The Shaggy Dog, Good Boy, Turner & Hooch, K-9 and Marmaduke, cut into incomprehensible blasts of schizophrenic mental noise that grew more and more painful to watch as it trundled on past the 10-minute mark, then the 20, the 30, the 40 and insufferable points beyond.

In short, controlled bursts, the absurdity of Everything is Terrible was a true delight. But the avalanche of incoherence that was the main event was as concerted an effort to live up to a name as one is likely to see.

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