The Austin Chronicle

Best Excuse for Missing a Gig: a True Story

April 16, 1999, Arts

In the Chronicle's BS4 preview, I wrote of Only Ninety Percent Effective (ONPE): "A lot of troupes call themselves edgy, these guys leap right into the abyss." Little did I know how far they would take these words.

'Twas the night before the festival, and the ONPE kids decided to take a break from their long and arduous rehearsals, preparations, and tweakings of their brand-new show RASSLE, the story of a "young professional wrestler and his plucky leprechaun trainer." They decided to have a group retreat, get away from it for a while, get back to nature and reconnect with divine inspiration. What they connected with, apparently, was a barrel of tequila and an ocean of beer.

One of the founding members, Jon Wiley, is not a drinker, and someone -- perhaps the evil Brently Heilbron -- took a notion to make sure that Jon got good and drunk before the festival. "I'd really only been drunk once before, back in high school," Wiley says. "During that experience I was shot at, so it kind of soured my experience." But some people just don't learn.

The troupe set off on a jaunt to Wiley's parents' house, near a lake in a certain county to our north that "isn't known for liberal thinking," as Wiley puts it. What they are known for is drug dogs in police cars driven by dicks; and I don't mean detectives. I think we can all smell trouble coming.

The libations flowed, the sun set, the night wore on. You can imagine that a wacky young comedy troupe might make a little noise as they let their Dionysian side emerge. Rather than staying within the safe confines of Wiley's house, however, they decided to hit the lake, which is in a public park. As Wiley remembers it, "Brently Heilbron recalled his high school experiences of getting together with several of his friends, stripping down, and running buck-naked through a park. All of us were quite plastered and thought this was a marvelous idea. We stripped down to our birthday suits and began running amok and having a lot of fun.

"Unfortunately, it appears to be illegal in the Great State of Texas to be naked, screaming, laughing, and drunk off your ass in a public place at three o'clock in the morning," notes Wiley. "Only Ninety Percent Effective -- with the exception of Jessy Schwartz, who had an exam that night -- got thrown in the slammer, making us Only Ninety Percent Incarcerated."

All right, Brently, just where exactly did you go to high school?

The ever-solicitous cops arranged group lodging for ONPE in the local drunk tank. The riot act was read and the kids were released the next day, but not in time to host their big Improv Jam at Esther'sPool. RASSLE went off without a hitch, however, at Thursday night's big gala show at the Paramount.

So, did you kids learn anything from this experience? "Jail is a bad place to rehearse your show," Wiley says. "Especially a show about wrestling."

Will you ever drink again, Jon? "Fuck no!"

-- J. C. Shakespeare

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