For the uncultured swine out there, The People’s Non-Binding Arbitration is a judiciary-themed improv show pitting disparate opinions and squashing disputes. There’s a theme song, and a light show, and a Bailiff, and sometimes a stenographer. At the top of the proceedings two members of the audience—Jon and Brandon this night—plead their case. The Arbitrator and the rest of Uqaqua interject with questions, fleshing out the arguments and planting seeds for their scenes. The team proceeds to make funny for about an hour. Winners are crowned arbitrarily. And then you go home.
Improv is as enthralling as it’s ephemeral, easy to experience, but hard to recollect, especially since The People’s Non-Binding Arbitration implements the fast-moving shortform—”so help you Spolin.” This renders audience-pleasing references like, “Masturbating Pete” and “a little stank [in couple’s therapy]”, null outside of Stage Werx’s magic circle (thus requiring the pleasure of your company. Yes, yours. You.)
Here’s what I can remember:
A fun interplay of escalating semantics emerged from the word “Super”. Its initial context was in reference to “with guacamole and sour cream” in juxtaposition to “Deluxe” (i.e. “with cheese”). Super is also a prefix to “Superman”, which immediately extrapolated into dumb comic book connections of “Deluxe Luther” and “Regular Man”, all swinging into scene, with Regular Man refusing to pay 50¢ for the subpar superheroism.
Another scenario proposed that toast needs to be toasted ahead of time which soon overwhelmed every tier of the the toast industry (Big Loaf), befuddled by the interconnected but unknown demand at a humble bed and breakfast.
Burrito regionality became diametrically polarized, the skimpy North and the abundant South, threading through scenes of betrayal, burrowing and blood rituals. American egotism claimed the divine right of critical supremacy, usually in favor of hyperbolic excess (e.g. “Ultra Sangria” being Everclear, pompously decrying red meat’s danger whilst chain-smoking); all at the expense of Mr. Grilled Chicken’s assuredness. “I know what I’m talking about,” echoed mockingly throughout the case.
Finally, a lingering and pungent theme of disease festered from dicey dealings with one of the proposed burrito outfitters. La Cumbre on 16th and Mission to be specific. La Cumbre can (but not necessarily will) fuck you up with food poisoning. Two Uqaqua members know that intimately. Normally this kind of bias would bar them from the proceedings, “but since this is a non-binding arbitration, I’ll allow it,” determined the Arbitrator. Some of the scene revolved around revulsion, bent-over zombies looking for intestinal relief. Some echoed Brandon’s claim that “the better the meat quality, the lower the health code” In the end, the Arbitrator sided with the less sickly burrito. “How do you feel,” asked the Bailiff to the victor in our closing statements. “Really bad…I think [La Cumbre] is a family owned restaurant”.
Luckily, no legal consequence will come from said victory because, as established in its title, The People’s Non-Binding Arbitration is indeed non-binding.