The Austin Chronicle

Luv Doc Recommends: FronteraFest Short Fringe

Hyde Park Theatre, Thursday, January 13, 2011

By The Luv Doc, January 14, 2011, Columns

Not all silence is awkward. Some silence is golden. Some silence is blissful. Some silence is deadly – especially the silence that happens in the Car2Go after a gluttonous, hog-trough-feeding binge at Mr. Natural. Raise the little white flag and roll down the window. Some people are silent – sometimes, we are told, a majority of them. Others are singularly silent, often for reasons unknown to anyone else. Some people just like to keep people guessing. Confucius once said, "It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt." It's a good bet that some wiseass at the back of the room followed that platitude with: "Hey Confucius! Shut the fuck up!" Ironically, the Confucian silence quote is also attributed to Abraham Lincoln, who could have used a little less silence at Ford's Theatre. If only someone would have shouted: "Duck Abe! He's got a gun!" It probably seemed like a foolish thing to shout at the time, what with the play going on and all. Some silent people are thoughtful and intelligent; others are just plain stupid. It's sometimes hard to tell them apart. Some silent people are scary, which is an excellent argument for not encouraging silence. With silent types, you really never know what's bouncing around up there. It might be the cure for cancer or an elegantly proven grand unified field theory, but it might be a screenplay for The Human Centipede. The scary truth is that there are some things in life you may not want to know but probably should before it's too late. Terrorists aren't particularly chatty – neither are Mafia hit men. Why would they be? Dead people don't talk. If they did, the first thing they would probably say is, "I wish someone would have said something." After all, isn't the hallmark of evolutionary advancement the ability to communicate? Isn't that what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom? Who knows? Oysters might be some wicked-smart motherfuckers, but until they learn to use their words or, to set the bar slightly lower, develop a brain stem, their lot in life is to be served on the halfshell. Being able to build your own home and make your own jewelry isn't proof of intelligence – no matter what Martha Stewart would have you believe. Where does that leave the starfish? Let it speak for itself. The important thing is that everyone should speak up so we know who the stupid, crazy, and scary people are. That, in essence, is the genius of the First Amendment: Calling out the crazies so we can keep an eye on those bastards. Censorship only drives the nut jobs underground – where they're more dangerous. So the next time you hear something spoken that is completely, abominably outrageous, make sure to send up a hearty hurrah! Help keep all the crazies in the open so they don't sneak up and stab us in the back. Support free speech in all its glorious and disturbing forms. Speaking of, you can get a bit of both at FronteraFest, Austin's own fringe theatre festival. The Short Fringe runs through Feb. 12 at Hyde Park Theatre, and the Long Fringe runs through Jan. 30 at the Salvage Vanguard Theater and the Blue Theatre. This Thursday you can catch a full night of Short Fringe performances at the Hyde Park Theatre. Check out Elevator Action, a comedic journey on an improvised elevator; The Priceless Slave, the true story of an antebellum slave architect; Dirty, Nerdy and Unemployed, poetry by Jacob Dodson; Route 307, an autobiographical sketch about the life of a mailman; and a sketch comedy performance called 4 Hole Punch. Rest assured, if there is silence on this night, it will probably be awkward.

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