Dirty dancing with the Douchebags

Comedy duo gets its MST3K on
By SHARON STEEL  |  August 23, 2006

TD of the Douchebags (and also Big Digits)
In high school, watching Dirty Dancing on UPN used to be my ultimate guilty pleasure. I could ridicule Frances “Baby” Houseman for her awful taste in men and unforgivable fashion choices, even as I harbored a crush on the senior-class pothead and skulked around in high-waisted stone-washed jeans. Now that I have access to cable and weekend-long Degrassi: The Next Generation marathons, I’ve lost touch with my roots. What’s the last time one of the Degrassi gang got her tryst on with a dance god like Patrick Swayze? So my hopes were pinned on the Douchebags: 24 Times a Second, a comedy troupe known for punking a selection of so-terrible-they’re-incredible movies to tear into, reminding us all that mocking teen angst is never as satisfying as sneering at a classic ’80s dramarama.

Last Saturday at midnight, the D-Bags opened a new residency at the Coolidge with, yes, Dirty Dancing. Seated side stage and decked out in pink and striped smoking jackets (or mom’s discarded bathrobe), the comedy duo told a bunch of coat-hanger abortion jokes and nailed a reference to Jennifer Gray (as Baby) in crotchless panties. Did I laugh? Yeah, sort of, but something tells me I would’ve laughed harder had I been sitting in a bar teeming with loaded people instead of in a quarter-filled air-conditioned theater.

I’m not sure where it began to go sour. Maybe the problem was that I was stone-cold sober — after all, the D-Bags’ old quarters, ZuZu, had a bar. Or perhaps it was the Stupid Wacky Guy in the row behind me. You know who I mean: he always arrives with a big group of friends who think he’s hysterical for creating a spectacle meant to disrupt the show, even if in this case the D-Bags couldn’t hear a thing he said. Saturday’s Stupid Wacky Guy thought he was the cleverest, sexiest motherfucker this town’s seen since Dane Cook ditched us for La-La Land. Meanwhile, T.D. and Chris were focused on a running gag that compared Baby’s sister Lisa to Bert of Sesame Street fame. Too true: her eyebrows really were a hot mess.

The trash talking got off to a slow start, the D-Bags eliciting a prolonged silence for the first 10 minutes or so. The pace picked up once the pair aimed a few well-timed potshots at a horrendously awkward Baby about to crash the staff dance party. The distracting hanky-panky made watching the movie next to impossible. Even if that’s the point, how can you not want to tune in when Baby is about to lose her v-card to Swayze’s Hungry Eyed testosterone factory a/k/a Johnny Castle?

The D-Bags were at their best when they found a local angle to rock, and they were also wise enough not to cut Jerry Orbach any slack. Whenever he showed his weather-beaten mug, contorted with the pain of Baby’s latest fall from grace, they cued that all-too-familiar slamming cell-door sound that punctuates the scene changes in every Law & Order episode.

Degrassi might be 100 percent intense, but there’s nothing like hearing the doctor amiably agree to letting his Peace Corps–bound 17-year-old daughter have consensual sex with a sweaty dance instructor from the wrong side of the tracks. Good thing the D-Bags didn’t let that one go without verbally slapping Baby back to her goddamn playpen during the big dance blowout party that ends the film. Have fun at Mount Holyoke, Frances . . .
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