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The Mr. Dartmouth experience

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I WAS NOT EXPECTING anything special upon my lonesome arrival to the Mr. Dartmouth showing at DHS last weekend, and boy howdy, was I completely wrong to expect so. It exceeded my expectations in the best way possible, due to the energy and fun that DHS presented that night.

Mr. Dartmouth was a blast, but for all the wrong reasons. It was a wondrous amalgamation of stilted acting, long-winded acts, and riveting dance numbers. The good and the bad, I loved nearly every moment of this experience. With every coming act, the show seemed to gain its footing, garner its comedic timing, and boast more and more confidence, until all of that steam was dashed by some truly hilarious jokes – and not because the jokes themselves were funny. No, I think we can all agree that the best comedy is that of unintentional humor.

When a show such as this strives for tonal-consistency or even for jocularity itself, and gets an unexpected amount of laughter directed towards the attempt, rather than the execution, it makes the entire joke work by its set up rather than its punchline, or at least the stab at one.

Mr. Dartmouth was full of this, and thanks to this inadvertent hysteria, it was priceless. Truly priceless.

Mind you, I went in thinking of all the different, “better” ways I could have spent 15 American pesos (14 dollars for the ticket, and an extra buck for a water), yet I walked out of that show willfully aware that the price was no waste of cash. Hint, I’d gladly have paid an even greater sum (not to give the coordinators of the next event any ideas for inflating the price or whatever, but like I previously said: priceless).

My point to all of this is no matter that the source of my enjoyment was genuine or ironic, I absolutely adored Mr. Dartmouth. Honestly, I now am ashamed of my immaturity in prior years for skipping out on the entire outing, and will return for next year’s thanks to this experience.

Because regardless of the actual culprit of my constant laughter, it was thoroughly enjoyable thanks to a healthy blend of sarcasm and sincere investment. (Add in a bit of mockery.) With a friend in tow, you can freely pass in and out of the subject matter of the actual competitions and enjoy the hilarity of both the show’s failures and triumphs.

It’s a firm recommendation from me purely off that basis: the unprecedented value of unpredictability. You can so easily one minute be earnestly watching the act presented, and the next, laughing yourself to death over some silly line the host uttered, unaware of the line’s various missinterpentations. It’s magical.

I’m sure it would be miserable if I had gone alone, or at least mostly boring. But, I instead took a friend, which is why I suggest you do the same. (Even though I’d imagine most who attend such a function would anyhow.) This is indeed a theatrical masterpiece, after all, and as such, is an anthology of sorts of the different Mr. Dartmouth candidates presenting their acts to a hungry crowd of their peers. It could be a musical act, a dance number, poetry, or some other talent involving a vague yet confident understanding of the arts.

My favorite, of course, went to that of the winner’s act, Mr Dartmouth himself, Dane Ashton’s painting routine. As an art and media aficionado, I thought I had his entire act figured out: his charcoal-dipped self-portrait which he impressively painted upside down. But to my surprise, and I’m sure everyone else’s, it was a portrait he painted upside down not of himself, but of Michael Jackson.

Aside from this and a few noteworthy songs, the other acts paled in comparison to the then not-crowned Mr. Dartmouth’s. None of them were especially bad, but not as memorable or special either. Like I’ve touched on, the collective two and a half hours is kind of just a power trip of various peaks in humor, which vary in actual real enjoyment, but it’s held up by the entire feel of the event itself, so the lows hardly ever matter.

Even now, I’m struggling to formulate my thoughts on the rest of the acts, as the entire display kind of just blurs into one glorious night. Even the highly choreographed dance numbers that incorporated all of the contestants fell victim to the generic tone of the entire evening.

But, this doesn’t make it bad. None of it was ever miserable, which is more than I can say for most movies I go and see and review. Mr. Dartmouth’s main bolsterings were far from boring. There was clearly a lot of heart packed into the whole thing, on and off the stage. This shined through most of the acts. Frankly, even in the lackluster ones.

The opening number really didn’t grab the audience like the hook intended, but boy did it set the tone for a tremendous night. While mostly soulless, slow, and overall sappy, it was funny as all hell to just enjoy the spontaneity of the entire thing. The spectacle was overwhelmingly positive, because you can really tell they’re trying, even through all of the out-of-unison dancing. It’s saving grace was the song choice, and admittedly, really good sound mixing. The deadness in the actual moves reminded me of, ironically enough, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” actually. Except, in “Thriller,” the dancers are supposed to look dead. Regardless, it was, like many acts in here, all the same very charming. As lifeless as it may have appeared to a stuck up critic like me, every one of them was clearly giving it their all.

Nevertheless, that was just the opening act. The aforementioned sense of blood, sweat, and tears was all over the entire show, even in areas where the colors drabbed a bit. Especially the Jaws-inspired bit, which was just the greatest. The shark was even DHS’s sweetheart, Morning Announcer, and co-host for the night Noah DeRossi Goldberg, in all of his “left-shark: glory,” all topped off with a topical Rocky reference.

The show even later went on to dig up the bones of the cult-classic comedic routine Key and Peele substitute teacher mispronunciation skit. They dug it up, right from its grave, skeleton and all, and paraded around with the bones bare to the over-actors’ flesh. And, surprisingly, it was just as funny as the actual skit, especially when you see people you like, you know, go to school with, enact it.

Aside from some really egregious pacing issues and some lengthy, superfluous intermissions, that was Mr. Dartmouth.

And you know what? I’m glad I went.

With every skit, bad or good, genuinely funny or satirically so, it was a barrel of laughs. With a friend, some refreshing bottled water, and some returning swimwear acts, I can see this being an active tradition for me from here on out. I truly thank every one of the coordinators of this event, from the candidates, to the sound mixers, to the choreographers job well done, Dartmouth High.

If  I was to rate it, due to its undying ability to amuse me in a multitude of ways, I’d give it an A. This spectacle’s success at every aspect of entertainment, largely thanks to the overall work and love put in to such a silly little diversion from the everyday high school life.

And yes, I’d gladly give up another Lincoln and Hamilton to see that again.

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The Mr. Dartmouth experience