Bye Bye Liver gets walleyed in St. Paul

Bye Bye Liver is making its way across the river to St. Paul starting this weekend (presumably weaving along and, as Tom Waits once sang, using parking meters for walking sticks). It's beginning a seven-week run at Camp Bar's cabaret space, walking a tightrope between good taste and offending the sensibilities of some--and more power to it.

The show is a collection of sketches about whiskey dick, booze goggles, and alcohol-induced selective psychosis that, more often than not, is brisk and funny (review here). As a critic, it's the kind of show that you almost feel silly reviewing, except in the consumer-report capacity for those interested in seeing it (it ain't Ibsen, and it knows it, thank goodness). It's pretty straightforward: it's a funny show about drinking, best enjoyed with friends. And while drinking.

What was interesting about it (I watched it stone sober, out of some obscure critic's code that probably only exists in my head) was that there were moments when it felt genuinely transgressive. We're so conditioned these days to pay homage to the pieties of clean living and good health that it's verging on subversive to laugh about how much much it is to get hammered.

I expected the show to take more flak than it did. Probably its good nature and disapproval-defusing self-effacement kept it from the wrath of the contemporary puritans (you know, the contingent that views a massive cheeseburger and a vodka martini as morally shameful). Also, pointing out the negative effects of getting shitfaced all the time would be to massively miss the point.

A lot has changed in a couple of generations, though. Dean Martin based his public image on being an unapologetic lush, whereas today a DUI requires celebrity rehab and donning the hair shirt (just to be clear: drunk driving is bad, and inexcusable, and often tragic). There has to be some middle ground, some acknowledgment that, for instance, having a few drinks and yukking it up is quite a fun thing to do.

And so we come back to Bye Bye Liver, a nice sketch comedy about whiskey dick and booze goggles. It has no pretensions to greatness, but at least it doesn't exhibit the peculiarity of drunken hubris. And if you go, and get lit up like a Christmas tree, take a cab for crying out loud. The puritans are right about some things, after all.

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