When am I ever going to use this stuff? said every college student ever. Well, apathetic academics, take note of Eric Jaffe who, in C- , bases an entire 55 minute, one-man show on all the crap he did, or didn’t, learn in the halls of higher learning. Taken from interviews with 65 of Jaffe’s former fraternity brothers, C- uses the anecdotal monologues of erstwhile frat stars to examine college as America’s coming of age ritual and how this messy start to adult life comes to bear on future happiness and success, if at all.
College. Belushi’s navy blue sweatshirt said it best. Ivy or State, College with a big “C” represents a shared experience of glee, mischief and miscalculation that anyone who has ever stepped foot on a campus will understand. During college, all undergrads had that one friend or that one crazy time or that one drink too many that generated four to seven years of glory stories. The problem with these stories, hilarious as they may be for those involved, is that everyone has them.
C- sidesteps this pitfall by placing these wild-night, though common, yarns within the context of its characters’ adult lives. C- has plenty of Remember When moments from frat bro’s with nicknames like “Mules” (a stout football player kicked off the team for excessive marijuana use) and “The Sponge” (not a superhero but someone who also smoked a lot of weed and never paid for it) though C- is not so much concerned if someone was the man back in school but more interested in the kind of person that came after.
During C-, Jaffe traces the discursive trajectory of his friends’ careers from shitty first jobs to happenstance fortunes. Throughout, he treats his characters warmly, like old drinking buddies, aware and loving of their faults. Keeping the play’s pacing fresh and engaging, Jaffe intersperses the character bits with narrative riffs on his own college and working life. These interludes have a standup’s easy humor to them and find Jaffe at his best.
Written and performed
by Eric Jaffe
at Bedroom – Fort Fringe
612 L Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
Details and tickets
During one of Jaffe’s personal musings, he breaks down the occupational numbers of his interview subjects. Out of 65, only 15 still earn a pay check in the field of their degree. The rest just made up whatever they slept through and earned a living, sometimes a lot of a living, any way they could. There is the acid dropper now managing a chain of organic food shops, the drop-out who runs his own software company and even Mules who strikes gold as a tech recruiter. Jaffe’s friends, described as on the “highly intellectual side of being a moron,” seem to turn out just fine after the bong smoke clears.
Though C- may have benefited from some other actors to flesh out scenes of Animal House debauchery, the one-man format serves the show’s ultimate purpose. When the party ends, Jaffe seems to say, you are the only one left to clean things up and carry on. Thank goodness you have some good stories to chuckle about along the way.