Self-proclaimed Orgo Night Veteran and Chief Ref Room Correspondent Sameea Butt meditates on the highs and lows of everyone’s favorite library musical comedy show.
Something has become obvious to this Bwogger and five-time attendee of Orgo Night about the crowds that pack Butler 209 on a semesterly basis. Despite the speakers’ more than capable enunciation abilities and perfectly competant sets of lungs, either no one can actually hear things the band is saying, or they just don’t get it.
A highly informal survey of our peers’ facial reactions to some of the Band’s jokes divides the attendees into a few archetypes (turns out they don’t just exist in the Reference Room):
Orgoer Archetype 1: The guy who’s laughing along a little too hard with everyone else about Herman Cain, and even harder at the obvious jokes. Yeah, Newt Gingrich and Susan Boyle may just have been separated at birth. Wipe those fake tears and chill, son.
Orgoer Archetype 2: The person who has no qualms about admitting they don’t understand what they’ve heard. You’ll see them shrug, furrow their brows or turn to their neighbors every now and then, whispering: “Dude, I don’t get it”. Their neighbor whispers back and they fake a smile. “Oh, righttt..”
Of course, this isn’t their fault, either. Maybe by the beginning of the second round of jokes in a room filled with the stale smell of intellectual sweat compacted by at least 50 times the normal occupancy, you just need something to distract you from the fact that you’re on the verge of teetering off the table you’re standing on into a sea of equally sweaty comrades.
The Band might seriously consider their idea of a “mic check” though, joked about during the performance:
“Now, a lot of people have complained that we don’t use microphones at Orgo Night. And you know what? They’re right. So we’ve decided to bring special amplification to you RIGHT NOW. Let’s give it a try. Mic check! (Mic check!) Mic check! (Mic check!) Is this thing on? (Is this thing on?) We’re really poor! (We’re really poor!) You’re really rich! (You’re really rich!) Fuck you guys! (Fuck you guys!) Penis! (Penis!)
OK, enough of that shit. (OK, enough of that shit.) That’s really fucking annoying. (That’s really fucking annoying.) Seriously! (Seriously!) Stop! (Stop!) I have a tiny dick!”
Clearly, I’m not alone in thinking that a fair amount gets lost in translation. Perhaps standing on that bookshelf makes you too distracted to focus on anything more than a select word here or there from the show. This actually seems plausible if you go over the script, which seems less offensive than the gasps and head-shaking would have you think. Speaking of which…
Enter Orgoer Archetype 3: The shocked disapprover. You’ll catch these guys (and gals) shaking their heads and muttering “too much, too much”, at every mention of an ethnicity or accent. Sometimes this will happen with good reason, even when the band is not being racist. A prime example: the Band’s jokes about Dean Pena-Mora’s ostracism from the faculty. Nobody seemed to get that the band was mocking the faculty until they heard “A bunch of old white PhDs” and “fucking racists,” which is when the partial stunned silence and awkward grimaces transformed into roars of approval.
Well, approval from everyone except Orgoer Archetype 4: People whose vacant stares at the ceilings betray their ambivalence to Orgo Night and school spirit generally, making you wonder probably as much as them why they bothered showing up in the first place. You endlessly wish they had followed their instincts and stayed clear of the event, giving you and your pungent peers a little breathing space.
Back to the show itself, it should come as no surprise that the best part of the evening came from the band’s mocking their own recent run-in with the administration, in which they were banned, and subsequently un-banned, from the final football game of the season.
“Of course, we immediately apologized, admitting that we’d totally crossed the line. Buuuutt… maybe if the team had crossed the line more often during the season, the Band wouldn’t have been singing those songs in the first place.”
Zing! And, putting it pretty eloquently:
“The marching band cannot play football. Instead of nine consecutive losses, we would have racked up…ten consecutive losses.”
Orgo Night indulges our need for a little cheer and made an attempt to rebuild our self-esteem that finals week has left in tatters. That’s why everyone will cheer in response to snarky digs at their Barnard peers and all snappy criticism of Occupy Wall Street will be forgiven. They’ll collectively shake our heads at the Band’s jokes about pedophilia and then laugh and roar in approval as they shout: “UPenn works hard to provide a safe environment for kids. In fact, it’s the safetiest school around.”
Even if we don’t get what they’re saying, or if we find their jokes distasteful, 209 will always be packed to the brim the night before the Orgo exam. It’s not even really so much about the band as it is about forgetting about finals and protecting the tradition in every way: screaming out the Fight Song in the beginning, rolling your eyes at the little overzealous freshmen’s obvious enthusiasm, and tricking yourself into believing you’re witnessing some signs of community in this otherwise tired school. And, perhaps most importantly, as one shocked but nonetheless pleased junior first-timer said upon sighting a flask in 209, “seeing that Columbia school spirit actually exists.”