I was peacefully minding my own business this afternoon when Bill Hanstock, a SB Nation co-worker who lives in California, asked me how far I lived from The Knitting Factory, which is a bar/concert venue about ten minutes from my house. I told him as much, and he told me to go there immediately. I asked why, and was told the reason was that Andre Ethier would be there, playing Keanu Reeves' role of Johnny Utah, in a live rendition of 1991 cult semi-classic Point Break.
So, yeah, I walked over, and sure enough:
I was handed a poncho as I entered. Then I sat down and watched Point Break Live, starring Andre Ethier.
Point Break Live is a long-running comedy/theater success story. No less an authority than Gary Busey called it "an expression of imagination in the highest form" after taking in a performance in Los Angeles, which is definitely the sort of thing Gary Busey would say, but also true. It works like this: a bunch of actors memorized the lines to a relatively faithful version of Point Break, albeit one that made fun of how dumb Point Break is and was also clearly aware that the theater offers no waves on which to surf or planes to skydive out of. The lead role, played by Keanu Reeves in the original, is played by a member of the audience, who has had no preparation for the part. At this performance, that part was Andre Ethier.
Ethier, for his part, was pretty game. He just showed up, put on a wetsuit, and was led around the stage by a director who held cue cards with his lines of them. Here is one of his arguments with (an alarmingly accurate) Fake Gary Busey:
If you've seen Point Break -- or any movie with Keanu Reeves, for that matter -- the effect is kind of brilliant, since Reeves always gives the impression that he's reading random words that he'd never seen before. If anything, Ethier put TOO much emphasis on his lines of dialogue to be a Keanu-grade fictional ex-Ohio State quarterback-turned-surfer-FBI-agent.
Still, the whole thing was quite funny, and Ethier was funny in it. The process is half the joke -- for instance, a director ordering Ethier to RUN, Ethier starting to run, the director reminding him that his character has a nagging leg injury, and then Ethier writhing on the ground in pain. Ethier clearly enjoyed the whole endeavor.
Sadly I didn't get any great videos -- Ethier yelling "I AM JOHNNY UTAH," for example -- but it seems the whole thing will be online soon thanks to the MLB folks filming the hell out of it. That said, here are 45 seconds of Andre Ethier fake-surfing:
Sadly, I forgot to put my poncho on in a way that covered my pants, which are currently splotched with Fake Gary Busey's Fake Blood.
I guess the point of all this is: if you have a chance to see Andre Ethier perform as a character from a Keanu Reeves movie, without any rehearsal and for free, you should take it. But you probably already know that.