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Cheers in Space
Ha ha funny

"Star Trek" conventions are absurdly popular. Tens of thousands of fans, united by a common mass media experience, come together to enjoy guest speakers, merchandise bonanzas, and the opportunity for freaky, science fiction booty. Trek conventions are so well-known that they've become a cultural cliche--a Saturday Night Live joke, a David Letterman 'top ten' list, a Ross Perot commercial. But what if devotees of other venerable TV shows began gathering--in costume--to recite inane dialogue from best-forgotten half hour TV episodes? Specifically, what about sitcom fans?

OOZE sheds a spotlight on the latest, up-and-coming conventions descending on a gymnaisum near you:

March 7-14, 1997- Grendel's Pub -Cambridge, MA

Leave your liver at the door! It's time to re-create America's favorite drinking establishment! America's most treasured drinking establishment was recreated for a week in the middle of Idaho. Who wouldn't want to personally 'Sniff-the-Underpants-of-George Wendt' with Norm himself? Fans played ultimate frisbee with Ted Danson's toupee and competed against minor celebrities in a game show called, "What Kind of Fish Does Shelley Long Most Resemble?" As a bonus, reruns of the tragically ignored "Cheers" spinoff, "The Tortellis" were run constantly over a urinal in the men's restroom.

Souvenirs included Gillette's new "Frasier Razor" which gives a nice, close shave while dispensing psychological advice; Kirstie Alley's "L'il Scientologist Playset" with coin-operated E-Meter; and a saucy new CD-ROM entitled "Virtual Woody".


October 21-23,1996- Houston Astrodome

40,000+ fans of the former Lt. Governor assembled to pay homage to the funniest butler-cum-politician on TV. Fans thrilled as drag queens modeled an exclusive line of 'Miss Kraus' schnitzel shaped lingerie, and an avant-garde theatre troupe performed the "Election Night" episode entirely in whiteface. Later, on the right field foul line, Renee Auberjoinis delivered his one man show, "Morphing From Clayton to Odo and Back Again".

Merchandise Seen: Blow up "Governor" sex dolls; autographed copies of the Cajun cookbook 'Guillame Does Prudhomme'; bootleg audio cassette of child moppet Missy Gold helping bulimic sister Tracey cough up a chicken enchilada.


December 16-17,1996 - Tavern On The Green- NY, NY

What could be finer than a celebration of the messy vs. the neat, the wimp versus the lout? This three day festival is home to the annual "Felixes" vs. "Oscars" naked olive oil wrestling match, and the "Repressed Homosexual Foosball Match." Last December, conventioneers watched fan recreations of other Odd Couples never seen on television, like the hijinx of newly-divorced Andy Warhol & Abraham Lincoln, and the wacky shenanigans of swinging Madame Curie & Peggy Fleming. Roaming the convention's premises, Al Molinaro (Murray-The Cop) performed his free cavity search for all comers, but the true highlight was George Lucas' thrill ride through the scars of Jack Klugman's throat surgery. Wow!

Popular merchandise included the "Pick-Up-The-Cigar-With-The- Umbrella" Parker Brothers game, and a rare bootleg album in which fans made up words to the show's instrumental theme

"There is an Odd Couple
And they live in Manhattan
There is an Odd Couple
And they live in Manhaaaaaatan
Felix is the neat one
Oscar is the messy one
And they're so odd
Gee, they're odd!
Boy, they're odd!
They're the oddest, oddest, oddest, oddest cou-ple of all!"

January 23, 1997 -Professor's Crab Hut- Louisville, Kentucky

Those fiendish castaways never left the hearts of their true fans. Seven lucky "Gilligan" buffs were actually boarded on a tiny, crappy boat and shipwrecked on the flooded Ohio River, where they were forced to live off the land with just a bicycle and a stash of wheat germ. For those who stayed in Louisville, though, the highlight was the annual roasting of Alan Hale, Jr's corpse over a spit. Elsewhere, fans enjoyed "the creator"--Sherwood Schwartz--revealing his secrets to success in a talk entitled "The Untalented And Their Pacts With Satan".

Big merchandise bonanzas included "The Ginger": a 10" vibrator made entirely from coconuts; "Mrs. Howell's Pop-Up Face-Lift Book"; and a trademark 'Gilligan' hat outfitted with beer cans and plastic tubing for that on-the go comedy/sports fan.

August 12, 1996 - Canter's Deli- Los Angeles, CA

What's the deal with all those people quoting Seinfeld episodes? Why, they're here, of course! Thousands of fans came to see Jason Alexander & Wayne Knight duel to death in a pie-eating contest, Michael Richards demonstrate his double, triple, and quadruple takes, and Jerry himself deliver a talk on "How to Pick Up Underaged Catholic Girls in a Park and Get Away with it." For the grand finale, exactly one dozen of the actresses who've played "Jerry's Girls" were shot into space to colonize a less model-friendly planet.

Fans went crazy for the merchandise at this show. Thousands of Jerry's previously owned Porches went for great prices in the 'What's The Deal With This Deal?!' clearout sale; Michael Richards moved plenty of units of his wacky Sega game "Kramer vs. Kramer", and people got a little closer to Julia Louis Dreyfus by paying $100 a pop to 'Pin The Tail On Her Butt'. The PEZ corporation also made a splash unveiling its new "Jerry" dispenser, featuring bitter, caustic candy.

June 20-21, 1996 -Sarah Lawrence College- Bronxville, NY

Tartan skirts and blue cardigans were all the rage as hordes of women and even a few straight men waltzed their way through this campus-long celebration to the prep-school themed sitcom. Highlights included Mindy Cohn's heartfelt anti-abortion speech, "The Facts Of Pro-Life", and excerpts from Kim Fields' court case against IHOP for the slanderous "Rooty Tootie Fresh And Fruity" breakfast special. Molly Ringwald and George Clooney, two early cast members, were conspicuously absent, but Gary Coleman made up for it by appearing in drag with a Caesar haircut.

The top-selling merchandise at this convention had to be flaxen-haired Lisa Whelchel's album of Talmudic favorites, "T'sh Abuv With Blair", but other big numbers were racked up a leather-bound, autographed photo album featuring sanitary napkins from all the members of the cast. 

Writer ED SCHMIDT makes girls call him EDDIE.


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