I was looking forward to the season finale for the Electric Arc Radio show for weeks. When I heard The New Standards (Chan Poling, John Munson, Steve Roehm) were performing, and that Al Franken would be making a special appearance, I knew it'd be a can't-miss performance.
If you're not familiar, Electric Arc is the story of what happens in a house where four writers live. (Watch mspmag.com's behind-the-scenes video.) The story is told from the stage of the Ritz Theater, where the cast members read their scripts and drink beer. None of these writers really live together, and the plot has many more than four characters, including those of each episode's guest musicians, who are written into the script. There's also a house band and a narrator. I've lost count, but suffice it to say, that's a lot of people on stage.
Last night the stage was even more crowded than usual with The New Standards' baby grand piano, upright bass, and vibraphone wedged between the house band and the cast. The New Standards opened the show with a jazzed-up rendition of the Clash's "London Calling" followed by, of all songs, OutKast's "Hey Ya!" The mood was set for the best performance of the season.
This twenty-fifth episode was the most musical episode ever, and was more sexed-up than the other episodes this season. (One might assume these writers are experiencing a sexually frustrated spring.)
To wrap up the season, the house members each found their "essence":
Sam met a girl at the Hobby Lobby with whom he thought shared his deep love for rocketry. Turned out she was only interested in Sam's other rocket. The two explored this misunderstanding in a rap song that made me blush and almost made me cry from laughing so hard.
Steph got a lesson in domestication from Old Lady Dickinson, who taught her how to make ham sandwiches.
After listening to five hours of techno music, Brady decided to beat down his BFF, Alan Greenspan, and set out to cut down Greenspan's treehouse. Brady and Greenspan ended up at couples' counseling at the Jewish Community Center, where they sought help from therapist Chan. Chan had designed "The New Standard" in couples' counseling—musical therapy—and so the BFFs' first treatment was in song. What other song could be more fitting for this sexual-innuendo-laced episode than Britney Spears' "Toxic"? Even Chan laughed as he sang the lyrics, "With a taste of your lips, I'm on a ride/You're toxic, I'm slipping under/With a taste of a poison paradise/I'm addicted to you/Don't you know that you're toxic?"
Herbach and the very Irish Andy Sturdevant had an entertaining exchange earlier in the program, but Herbach's shining moment was a send-off song to close the show, where he sang about picking up a ho(e) and ho(e)ing the earth.
The icing on the cake was when Al Franken came onstage. I was a little nervous he might just come out and say his campaign spiel and then leave out some back door, but instead he came out and wrote himself into the plot, saying he was Alan Greenspan's nephew and was named after him. Then he jokingly said he and Tom Davis did the same Electric Arc script at Dudley Riggs thirty years ago—but without The New Standards, since they weren't around—and that these guys will be hearing from their lawyer.
He started his senate campaign talk with a wink: "As a politician, I just want to say that the arts are so important." Franken was the perfect ending to the season: both he and Electric Arc are smart, funny, and walk the line between over-the-top and tongue-in-cheek.
The next season starts in September. I recommend buying season tickets.
Listen to Herbach's song and Franken's Electric Arc debut.