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Posted on February 5th, 2009 in Jason's Journal by Jason McHugh

The following is an excerpt from SCRAP Book by Jason McHugh, which might be coming out in 2010 if the stars align themselves properly.  Way back in the 90’s, our friend Arthur Bradford started making videos with mentally disabled folks who ended up schooling us in the absurd. Now they have their own MTV Show, which is most amazing and further proof that anyone can make it in Hollywood!

Jabberwocky

Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;

All mimsy were the borogoves,

And the mome raths outgrabe

 

I was visiting two of my best bro’s Jonathon Korty and Glasgow Philips at their Mill Valley bachelour pad. Korty had just graduated from University of Hawaii, home of the Rainbow Warriors, was waiting tables at Guaymus and had just bought himself a new Hammond organ, which he was teaching himself how to play. Glasgow had just graduated as a Brown University Brown Bear and had written and published a novel called, Tuscaloosa.  Now he also had a strange screenplay, called Bad Pie and a new book in the works, while he was going to grad school as a Stanford Cardinal and dating this inked up alternative stripper chick, who worked at this classic peep show spot called The Lusty Lady in San Francisco.  Whilst chilling at their pad one day, I picked up this Vhs tape simply labeled “Camp Jabberwocky” and popped into the VCR.  Having no idea what I was watching, I got swept up by this twenty-minute tape that made me laugh out loud numerous times. When it all came to an end I was majorly Verklempt and in a need of a tissue.  I turned to Glasgow in disbelief – what the hell did I just watch? What is Camp Jabberwocky and who are all these people?

 

I discovered that Camp Jabberwocky is a camp for adults with all kinds of physical and mental disabilities located in Martha’s Vineyard. At Camp Jabberwocky, however, the philosophy is to overlook the disabilities and even celebrate them. So they have these campers do just about every activity that normal campers would do including; arts and crafts, horseback riding, swimming, archery, possibly even riflery and most importantly theater, where they would perform well rehearsed skits and musical numbers.  The Camp even represents themselves in full costumes and floats during the local Fourth of July parade on Martha’s Vineyard.  Camp Jabberwocky is off the hook and extremely loved by those who attend, there are even campers who are twenty-year plus veterans of their annual summer sessions.  

 

Arthur Bradford, who was attending the Stanford Cardinal writing program with Glasgow, was the director of this Camp Jabberwocky Tape.  For several summers, Arthur had been working at Camp Jabberwocky and one of the activities that he oversaw was a video making class, which was how the tape came to fruition.  Arthur truly understands the strengths and weaknesses of his campers and that shines through in the finished product.  These campers each have differing types and levels of communication skills, so when they perform “Man on the street interviews” with regular citizens, the results are marvelous.  In these interviews every regular person seems hilariously more retarded than the mentally disabled person they are being interviewed by. The tapes play on many different levels and always stir up great discussion. It’s “must see” and replay over and over again type of video, at least for us it was.  As soon as I played the tape for Trey and Matt, the more and more I saw it again and again and again, because either Trey or Matt would be playing it again for themselves or a new recruit who hadn’t seen it yet. Once Trey and Matt got on a creative comedy kick about anything they would passionately beat the crap out of it with numerous imatations and variations. We finally exhausted the first Camp Jabberwocky tape after having carefully examined every second and even every frame of every facial or verbal expression from either the interviewee’s answer or the interviewers reaction to their answer. We had all become huge fans of Bobby Bird, Sean Costello and even Susan Harrington. Now there was no question we needed to see more Jabberwocky!

 

To our joy, Arthur had lots more Camp Jabberwocky to show us, including more musicals, talent shows and even more man on the street interviews which were our favorite.  Each one was packed with little moments of distorted reality for us to chew on, pure human expression.  Once we had the new tapes in hand, we would watch them over and over, again and again just like before. Trey especially embraced these tapes.  I will never forget the night we were replaying Jabberwocky scenes over and over and Trey started laughing uncontrollably hard, like no one I have ever seen.  The comedy had momentarily taken over all of his charkas at once. He was writhing around on the couch posessed and in hysterics until he rolled over and hit the floor where he continued laughing and crying and then pounding the ground with the side of his fist, then kicking the ground just loosing his shit everywhere.  It was an all out yard sale! Trey was rolling around like a pig in shit and making no bones about this hilarigilious experience he was having. It was if he became a slave to the Jaberwocky and the gods of comedy who had him in the palm of their hands. After hanging around Trey and Matt and many others, I have seen people laugh there fucking asses off a lot, but really no one has laughed harder then Trey under the influence of The Camp Jabberwocky Crewe. It was primal comedy that taught us all about how the natural comedic moment builds up and breaks down. It is certainly a fine experiment on how human nature works when faced with the weird.  Hail Jabberwocky!

Friendly Tips

You never know where your next creative partner may emerge from!

Anyone can be a star if latent talents are exercised and celebrated.

Jabberwocky website: http://www.howsyournews.com/

There’s a lot more about Camp Jabberwocky in the Beware The Jabberwock Chapter.

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