The Right to Be Deranged

A good way to defeat (or at least derail) an absurd line of reasoning is mockery. The more you mock, the louder and more defensive the absurdist gets. Eventually the absurdist gives up. (Or maybe he hits you, but for now let’s say he gives up.) Banning books is absurd. So laugh at it. That probably won’t make potential censors give up (or hit you), but it will make you feel better and help build a community of people who, although they laugh, take this stuff quite seriously. Here’s your chance: the Great SF Read-Out, a monster-truck’s worth of extreme literary weirdness in one session. Much of that weirdness takes the form of emcee Will Franken. He gives his respective takes on Mohandas Gandhi and Mark Twain (expect bizarre characterizations) and also leads the audience in a giant Mad Lib, in which animator/director Doug Sweetland furiously illustrates what’s called out. The result? A “new banned book.” BATS Improv will play games with spectators, who are encouraged to read aloud from a book that’s been “challenged” in a library or school, and also compose and perform a dance based on a constitutional right. Patricia Silver of Word for Word does a dramatic reading from Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed, which was among the most challenged books of 2010. Maybe this is what the late Hunter S. Thompson foresaw in his oft-quoted phrase, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”
Sat., Oct. 1, 7 p.m., 2011

 
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