The Chapel Hill News
July 21, 1995
Van Gogh Goghs paint a wild comedy picture
by Chris Speck
Everyone in this town thinks he's a comedian. People are always telling jokes, trying to make one another laugh, thinking they're funny.
But after seeing a Van Gogh Goghs show, it's easy to tell who's funny and who thinks he's funny.
The Van Gogh-Goghs, a six-man comedy troupe that will perform Monday at the Cave, formed three years ago at UNC, and its members have been monopolizing the Triangle comedy market ever since.
"We originally called ourselves the Sore Horsemen of the Apocalypse," said founding member Jason Torchinsky. "But then we decided on the Van Gogh Goghs. We named ourselves after Theo, not Vincent."
"Yeah, the one who made all the money," added co-wit Charles Remple [sic].
A benefit for UNC students who couldn't go home for Easter in 1992 spawned the comedy team. Torchinksy, an undergraduate at the time, called upon some friends to help him with the show. Those friends were (and presumably still are): Remple [sic], Rob Terrell, T. Mike Childs and Galen Black, all of whom had attended UNC except for Remple [sic], who went to a certain four-letter university down the road in Durham.
The troupe soon was joined by Alan Benson, a Greensboro native and graduate of Boston University, and the Van Gogh Goghs was [sic] ready to terrorize the Triangle with its own particular brand of humor.
What kind of humor is that?
"We really just want the audience to sit back and aborb," said Benson. "We're not an improv group and we don't use mikes."
"It's like a permanent 'Unplugged' show," chimed in Black.
"There's a lot of talking and moving," said Remple [sic]. "We move our arms a lot and sometimes we shine flashlights into people's eyes."
"We're basically trying to avoid the ususal expletive deleted," said Torchinsky.
"You mean 'expletive' deleted," corrected Childs, with the emphasis on the second syllable.
"No, it's expletive. I'm pretty sure," retorted Torchinsky.
"Are you sure you don't mean 'excretive' deleted?" asked Remple [sic].
"Oh, who could possibly delete an excretive?" asked Terrell
No one responded right away to that question.
"I still prefer expletive," concluded Torchinsky.
The humor of the Van Gogh Goghs doesn't usually degenerate to such bickering, and at its best is an intense and inspired flirtation with the bizarre and the twisted. Take for example the group's Star Trek skit, in which Spock suddenly decides he wants to copulate with all the humans on the enterprise. It takes all of Kirk's wit and energy to calm the Vulcan down, and lead him in the direction of a much needed cold shower.
But perhaps the most brillant sketch is "Hitch Hiker." "You always hear about psychopaths who pick up hitchhikers and kill them," said Remple [sic]. "And you always hear about psychopaths who hitchhike and kill drivers. Well our skit shows what happens when one psychopath picks up the other."
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