There had been backstage musicals before A Chorus Line opened on Broadway on July 25, 1975. But as far as I can tell, there had never been a backstage musical—or, really, any Broadway musical—that merrily sprinkled fucks and shits throughout the dialogue, which is spoken by auditioning singers and dancers as they bare their souls to an unseen director.* And there had never been a song in a Broadway musical with a title like “Tits and Ass.” In fact, less than a dozen years before A Chorus Line opened, uttering the phrase “tits and ass” in a public forum had gotten the comedian Lenny Bruce hauled off to jail.
Shakespeare’s The Life of Timon of Athens is an overlooked gem in his corpus. Though less accomplished than many of his other tragedies, this moral drama is distinctive – and timely – in its focus on the relationship between money and affection. It satirizes some amusing characters, including a churlish cynic philosopher and two artists who only ply their craft to win rewards. The play also features some choice language.
Stupid Fucking Bird, Aaron Posner’s contemporary twist on Chekhov’s The Seagull, has its Bay Area regional premiere this week at SF Playhouse. San Francisco is no one’s idea of an expletive-deleted kind of town, but that title? Not what some people want the kiddies to inquire about while you’re riding a Muni bus or a BART train. And so the theater’s promotional graphics for the show obscure the F-word with a splat of what looks like birdshit*.
In my work as a name developer I’ve yet to encounter a client who’s amused by riffs on swear words. But not all companies are taboo-averse, as I learned when I began looking into the uses of motherfucker in brand names.
OK, not literal motherfucker. (Not yet, anyway.) But close soundalikes? All over the motherfucking place. It turns out that a bunch of people in charge of brand naming have independently concluded that rhyming bowdlerizations of the mother of all taboo words are novel and distinctive and high-fucking-larious. Sometimes they’re right.