Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Slamdance ’15: 20 Years of Madness
1988, Mystery Science Theater 3000 debuted
on Minnesota’s struggling independent KTMA with little fanfare, but it was just
too funny not to go national. High school student Jerry White, Jr. assumed the
same was true of his raucous suburban Detroit cable access show, 30 Minutes of Madness (30MOM). You could
legitimately debate whether this was true or not, but the fact remains he never
received the big league call-up he was hoping for. Twenty years later, White
tries to get the gang together to take another shot at it. Jeremy Royce
documents the unruly reunion in 20 Years
of Madness (trailer
which won the Jury Honorable Mention for Documentary Feature at the 2015 Slamdance Film Festival.
on the generous samplings of weird and wacky clips, the original 30MOM looks like a cross between the slapstick
stunts of Jackass and The Kids in the Hall at their most
conceptual. Although it was an analogue VHS deal, through and through, White
had a facility for pulling off strange visual effects. Perhaps they could have
caught on, but like every cult band that didn’t make it big, they imploded from
within before they ever got that big break.
recently graduated from film school (where he met Royce), White is now at loose
ends. Since 30MOM is still his best
known calling card, he tries to revive it with his old colleagues. White will
more or less admit his runaway ego was most to blame for poisoning the
chemistry the first time around. Everyone seems to be willing to make another
go of it, but some seem more willing to patch up old resentments than others.
of the strange things about 20YOM is
the way the various players shrink and grow in stature over time. Sometimes
White seems to be reverting to his old high-handed ways, but as we listen
difficult cast-members whine and play the diva card, it is hard to blame him
for telling them where to get off. Happily, he seems be able to permanently
repair his friendship with Joe Hornacek, who was probably the second most
important 30MOM contributor after
is rather fascinating to see what the motley crew does with their possible
second chance. After all, no 30MOM alumnus
has exactly set the world on fire. One lost about a decade to heroin addiction,
while another struggled with Bi-Polar disorder. At least, White and Hornacek
could reconnect for real, which is a rather hopeful development.
At times, White is rather contemptuous of
youtube, explaining 30MOM had viewers
who made a real time commitment to find and watch their show, rather than net
surfers hitting the “like” button. Those who share his affection for the VHS tapes
and cable broadcasting of the 1980s and 1990s will get his point. Even if you
never saw 30MOM, 20YOM will make you nostalgic for the era that produced it. Who
knows, now that Royce’s doc has at least one festival award under its belt, maybe
the 30MOM show could see some kind of
release on the increasingly obsolete format known as DVDs? Recommended for
anyone who still feels more comfortable with old school media (and the grungier
the better), 20 Years of Madness screened
at this year’s Slamdance Film Festival.
Labels: Documentary, Slamdance '15