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Super Happy Funtime brings its wild variety show to the Loft
A lot of people try to put Super Happy Funtime in a genre, but after a decade on the road, writer, director and host Corey Ruffin still hasn’t got any better at describing exactly what they do.
There’s live music, there’s burlesque, there’s comedic theater and they usually take their clothes off. One thing Ruffin is certain of is his group’s knack for ruffling political feathers. Exhibit A: The group regularly performs an act called “Betsy DeVos, Cum Gargler.”
“I’m writing a song right now for our next tour called ‘The Gun Is Good, The Penis Is Evil’,” said Ruffin, who is always impressed by the crowds who turn out to witness their spectacle. “You’d think crazy people would come see us,” said Ruffin, who performs more than 100 shows each year. “But it’s just a freaking data entry guy and his wife who are like, ‘You’re saying what we’re thinking, but can’t articulate.’” And articulate they do. Amidst a guncrazed Michigan and an overall political nightmare, Ruffin and the dozen or so members of Super Happy Funtime perform a brand of bastardized burlesque, bent on obliterating sexual repression.
“People in power are so afraid of the freedom that comes with just being comfortable with one’s self, that’s what we try to put an eye on,” Ruffin explained, before recalling one of the many times his vision was drastically misinterpreted.
“Once, in Grand Rapids, the cops showed up and the guy in charge thought that the word ‘burlesque’ meant live sex with caged animals,” he said. “How could you imagine stuff like that? How boring is your life?” That incident is nothing new for Super Happy Funtime. The group is often met with disapproval from tourist bureaus, city officials, and every bureaucrat that catches wind of a traveling band of pastie-wearing theater maniacs descending on their town. The last time the group played in St. Joseph, they fielded visits from the city attorney and the sheriff, both of whom threatened to shut down the venue.
After haggling with city officials and a call to the ACLU, Super Happy Funtime finished its set, though it was punctuated by visits from roving police officers sent to “check-up” on the show.
“It’s just the people who have their hands on the leash that are terrified of us,” Ruffin said. “It’s those people who are truly sick … . The city attorney of St. Joe sees a video of our show and she’s suddenly confronted with all the horrible things inside of herself that she wants to stop us.”
Sure, it’s disheartening that government officials are still wary of rock ‘n’ roll attitude in 2017, but the good news is Ruffin and his crew aren’t throwing in the towel anytime soon. They’re having too much fun.
“What’s the point of having a day job and slaving at Meijer 40-hours a week for the rest of your life when you can travel across the country in a bus and take your clothes off for strangers?” Ruffin asked. “Obviously one is more important than the other.”
Super Happy Funtime
Friday, Dec. 22 The Loft, 414 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing 18kknd, $12, $10 adv.theloftlansing.com