OH SHIT! Tonight Upstate, the 8 time Inspirado champions, will choose an OH SHIT! Challenge- the infamous Inspirado challenge that has only been picked once. That one time was a magical time to Katie Grimmer, a journalist currently at NYU Grad school. She wrote about her experience and why the last OH SHIT! was her “greatest NY memory”.
In the beginning…
Tickets were sold out. We were on the waiting list. It was Brick versus The Kicks. Brick was the first team to complete eight of the nine challenges and this was the final category for Magnet Theater’s Inspirado Improv Competition.
Our wait list number was called. We filed in behind our friends into the crowded room of at least 200 people. We sat in the couches to the right of the audience seating. This was it.
The lights darkened. The host of the evening, Willy Appleman, took the stage. He gave his spiel. Brick had won the first eight challenges the previous eight weeks. However, to win the competition and the beloved Dale North trophy, the team must complete the Ultimate Challenge: the Oh-Shit! Challenge.
First up were the competitors: The Kicks. To be honest, I don’t even know which challenge they drew. I guess they were pretty funny. But nothing compared to what came next.
The Oh Shit! Challenge. Appelman and the others in charge of Inspirado were thinking of different ideas for what the Ultimate Challenge should be earlier in the week. Ideas included passing a law into NY State Legislature, as well as giving the team basic equipment, such as wood and life preservers to make a boat to put into the Hudson River (essentially forcing them to jump into the Hudson), Appelman said.
Appelman and McNerney began the process to deciding the wedding details. One of the group members in Brick was getting married the week after the competition and at first they thought it would be a good idea to have them get married, but the idea expanded. “Why not have two audience members get married?” Appelman had thought. So they got a Justice of Peace, a marriage license and a cake and left the rest up to Brick.
Let’s Just Waste Time
The challenge was announced. They must act as themselves and as no other character and the team must get two people on the audience married. The audience, including my boyfriend, my friends, and myself were in shock. Was this actually being allowed? Two random people were literally going to get married. I mean, there was a Justice of Peace present!
Brick started. They sat in a half circle facing the audience, discussing how they were going to come about getting two strangers to marry each other. They dabbled with the woman in the group who was betrothed, but she shut that down quickly. Then the spokesperson of the group suggested turning the lights on and looking for romantic couples. Ariel immediately removed his arm from my shoulder, in which I immediately agreed, and I assume every other couple in that theater did the same.
Kyle Levenick walked up, volunteering himself for marriage. There to support his friends in Brick, he though what better way to support them than getting married to help them win. “The whole week I was super excited to see the show and find out what the challenge would be,” Levenick said. “As soon as I heard it, [I] immediately wanted to do it. It was a huge thing, but I knew it needed to happen, and if they couldn’t find a willing couple in the crowed, I figured there’s no reason to not just do it.”
Another audience member, Rachel, walked up out of the crowd, hesitant on what it would take to get the marriage annulled. She worried about how much it would cost and the members of Brick assured her they would take care of it. Still seeming uneasy, Rachel agreed to the marriage.
Here comes the Bride
Rachel was decked in a veil and bouquet made out of toilet paper. All stood as she made her way down the isle, as we whistled to the tune to the random guitarist who came out of nowhere.
Another member of Brick walked Rachel down the isle and, in front of the Justice of Peace and wedding party, nearly removed her pretend veil and kissed her on the forehead, a sign that he was giving her away. Levenick stood patiently waiting for her with his boutineer made of toilet paper, his hands held together in front of him.
Levenick and Rachel took each other’s hands.
“Dearly beloved friends,” Peter Russo, the Justice of Peace, began. “We gather here today for an Improv show (and the audience clapped) and it turns out we’re also here for a wedding (and the audience cheered). Levenick and Rachel are both very much in love. It’s an inspiration to bear witness to this. I technically have to say before we start if there is anyone here who has any objections, speak now or forever be silent.”
Jamaal Sedayao, one of the members of Brick, broke in and said “I do.” Silence. “New York can gay marry!” Everyone in the building broke into applause and cheers.
Here come the Grooms
Others couldn’t hide their shock, including myself, that two straight men were getting married right before our eyes. It was brilliance.
Same-sex marriage in New York had become recently legal only three months earlier in the end of June, according to the New York Times.
“At first, if it had been the guy and the girl, it would have been cute and funny and happy,” Appleman said later. “With two guys, it became a statement. It was really cool.”
Levenick was excited for that interruption from Sedayao. “As far as marrying a guy goes, the situation was already so ludicrous that the addition of Jamaal only made it better,” Levenick said later. “Besides, it was legal now! And no better way to stick it to the jerks who fought against it for the ‘sanctity of marriage’ by having a total sham marriage to a guy.”
The two men getting married dropped their pants. Sedayao with Spiderman boxers; Levenick in his red spandex tights, having just come from a UCB wrestling match. They took hold of each other’s hands.
“We gather here together to celebrate the union of these two, uh, people in holy matrimony,” Russo began, again. “If there is anyone who rejects this union for any reason whatsoever, speak now or forever be silent.” The entire audience was still. A member of Brick interjected, “Awe. Even The Kicks don’t have anything to say to that.”
Cut the Cake
After making sure Rachel was fine with the marriage (she was more than fine), Russo began the vows. “Jamaal and Kyle, well, they’re a match,” the Justice of Peace said. “Like I said, since there’s no one that sees any reason why these two should not be married, why don’t we do this. Usually this is the point where I read from The Giving Tree or something but I think we might as well get right to it. Jamaal, do you take Kyle to be your lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold in sickness and health, as long as you both shall live?”
The couple said their wedding vows.
“Kyle, you take the ring and put it on Jamaal’s hand,” Russo said. “The left. And you will say with this ring, I thee wed.”
“With this ring, I be wed.” Everyone corrected him and then made jokes about it. “You do be wed, honey!” Jamaal followed suit, saying the phrase correctly.
“I now pronounce you man and man.” They shrugged and kissed. Mazol tov was shouted. The lights went out. Every clapped and yelled and screamed and hugged each other and laughed. Champagne was brought out along with a cake that said, “Oh Shit You Just Got Married” in red icing. Their chairs were lifted for the wedding-like crowd surfing, toilet paper was thrown, and Kyle immediately went for the champagne.
“Ladies and gentlemen, Brick!” Willy announced.
Man and Man
“All in all, I don’t regret a second of it,” Levenick said. “It’s a great story from a great place with great people. Brick worked hard to make it that far, and I was happy to help in any way I could so that they could secure their place in Magnet history.”
“It was a fun night,” Sedayao said. “I’ve never seen the Magnet more packed so I’m glad to have represented gays that night. I had so many drink offers at the bar. I guess that’s the most important thing.”