Extracurricular Re-creation

Bartender Jeremy Bishop and friends stage mini television episodes at the 400 Bar to fill the hole left by the writers strike.

Stephanie Dickrell

With only sub-par reality television to entertain us during the writers strike, Jeremy Bishop and some friends decided to create some entertainment of their own.

No Time for TV

WHEN: Mondays, 8 p.m.
WHERE: 400 Bar, 400 Cedar Ave. S, Minneapolis
TICKETS: Free

Since the end of January, with Bishop as writer, Benjamin Kruse as editor of the versions put on YouTube and Todd Demerath as writer and actor, the group created a number of short plays that they performed at the 400 Bar on Monday nights.

“We’ll keep going as long as we get people coming,” said Bishop, who is also a bartender at the 400 Bar. The shows will continue at least through May, he said.

The group has tackled CBS comedies “How I Met Your Mother” and “Two and a Half Men,” NBC’s “Chuck” and “The Office,” family favorite “Full House” and investigative series “CSI: Miami,” “Mannix” and “The Dukes of Hazard” with varying success.

The 10-minute plays are low-key and require a little imagination, like pretending a grown man is a teenage boy or an elderly woman.

Like any play you’d write with your friends in your basement, there are jokes and gags that fall flat, or actors that giggle at the wrong time or forget their lines.

The plays are at their best when pointing out the obvious gaffs in a show that everyone notices but chooses to ignore: so-called suspension of disbelief.

For example, the “CSI: Miami” version included a serial killer who used a nail gun, but confirming the murder weapon to be a nail gun required extensive lab work by lab technicians. The detective, Horatio, thinks the murder has something to do with drugs – because everything has to do with drugs. The murder is solved because of an obscure film the killer imitated and that other detectives just happened to remember. It’s all a little ridiculous, as the real show is, if you stop to think about it.

As a result, familiarity with the show they’re mocking always helps.

Will Toole, a local singer/songwriter, has played after all of the shows. He’s usually followed by other small local bands like The Pines, Jen Seay, Nancy Drew Crew, International Espionage, The Wapsipinicon or Adam Seck of The Glad Version.

On May 5, students from the University of Minnesota’s School of Music will perform opera pieces following the play.

The bands’ and students’ following – friends, family and fans – help to bring an audience to “No Time for TV.”

They don’t really have much competition. Monday night isn’t a popular night for bars, especially in the winter, so they manage to pull in 30 to 50 people, on average.

Upcoming ideas include “Laverne and Shirley,” “House,” “The Jetsons” and “The Flintstones.”

There’s no money involved for any of the participants, actors, writers or bands, nor is there a cover. Many of the actors are college friends of Bishop, who claims he guilted them into helping with the project. Ideas are thrown out by whoever shows up for rehearsal. Scripts are generally written two to three weeks before, and rehearsals of the show are done for a few hours the night before.

“It’s just a volunteer thing,” Bishop said, “very low-key. We’re trying to be a comfortable event.”