It was 20 years ago today, January 22, 1993, that we performed our first show. This photo was taken that night. The guy lying horizontal on the floor did the lights for us that night. None of us remember his name or have any clue where he is now. We suspect Witness Protection.
I recently received an email from Joanie, a delightful young lady I knew from my early days at BYU. And more to the point, the daughter of one Joyce Joan Garren
Joyce Garren was my “Hall Mom” my freshman year, when I lived in the BYU campus dorms previously known as Deseret Towers. (Now known as “rubble.” Apparently they felt the need to build newer dorms, so they just decided to pave paradise and put up a parking lot. Or new dorms. WHATEVER. Just destroy the home of my memories. It’s fine.)
But I digress.
I have two vivid memories of Sister Garren from that first year. One, I was in my dorm room getting ready for a Friday evening out with a lady-friend, when Sister Garren walked by and saw me attempting to sew a button back on to my shirt. She told me to hand the shirt over, and then she sat down on my bed, quickly sewed it on for me, and sent me off on my date with a hug. It made me miss my own mom; it was such a motherly thing to do. The second vivid memory from that year was…later that same night, when I came back from my date, and Sister Garren, waiting just inside the doors of the dorm, gave me a raised-eyebrow and straight-up told me she didn't approve of me dating that particular young lady. Wow, now she was really sounding like my mom.
I left on my LDS mission, returned with honor and the same hairline, and started back up at BYU, living off-campus. I had kind memories of Sister Garren, but hadn't ever anticipated her being involved in the remainder of my college life. But she sure was.
In 1993, there were nine of us founding members of The Garrens Comedy Troupe; BYU’s first improv and sketch comedy group. The only reason for the name was that the founder, Eric D. Snider, and two of the other members were living in Deseret Towers, and Joyce Garren was their Hall Mom. And they liked the sound of it. So it stuck. (You can read the official history of The Garrens here.)
I have written about The Garrens before, as it was a wonderful part of the history of my life. I loved the creative energy, I love and value the friendships that came from this group, and it was where Katie and I met, courted, and married. (We technically married in the Salt Lake Temple, but we were still in The Garrens when we got married.) For a photo slideshow of those early years, click here.
The Garrens performed from January 1993 until March 2001. And there, sitting in the back of the theater almost every Friday night, with her video camera rolling, was Joyce Garren. Proud to have us using her name. We didn't pay her. I don’t know that we ever even asked her to do it. But years of memories, emotions and laughter have been recorded because of her. Hours of personal history captured on film. I don’t know how to ever thank her.
Katie and I with Joyce Garren, 1995.
That email from Joanie was to let me know that Joyce Garren had passed away. She died of cancer, at age 81.
Joanie’s email said, “We have boxes and boxes of video tapes and paraphernalia from The Garrens. She kept it all these years. I thought maybe you’d like to have it.”
I feel I should warn you that from time to time I will be posting Garrens’ videos. I want to pay tribute to those who were part of something I remember so fondly – whether they were in the group or the audience. The thing is, Sister Garren did not own state-of-the-art commercial video equipment. So…it’s pretty rough viewing. The years have not been kind to the ol’ magnetic video tape.
But for those of you who remember the glory days of The Garrens, or for those of you who want to see what Katie and I looked like in 1993, or for those of you who have already watched everything else on the You Tube and have finally arrived at the end of the Internet…I bring you another video of sketch comedy from The Garrens. (I have previously posted “Guys Apartment,” which you can view here.)
This sketch was called “Social Hugs 101.” It was written by Mark Berrett, and it’s a parody of the freshman-targeted class that was highly popular on BYU campus at the time, known as Social Dance 101.
In this sketch, Mark is our “professor,” and he is walking us through a number of socially (and otherwise) acceptable types of hugs as an end-of-semester final exam.
It was 1993, still the first year that The Garrens were performing.
Here is what I remember about this sketch:
* When Mark showed up at practice to pitch and cast the sketch…he cast Katie and I in our roles…and our eyes locked. And suddenly, we had an understanding. And that understanding was that we were going to have to talk to each other, as we had held maybe two conversations before this.
* We only had three girls in the cast at the time. We needed four for this sketch. Dave Shipp was cast as the fourth girl. The “physical comedy” between Lincoln and Dave was improvised that evening and you can see all of us shocked – SHOCKED – when Lincoln pretty much man-handles Dave.
*I love it when Mark asks the benefits of a “Side Hug” and Jeni sheepishly says, “If you have only one arm you can still do it.”
* When Dallen and I demonstrate the Jock Hug, he really did hit my bum super hard.
If you’re interested, please check out The Garrens Facebook page and Like us! We are considering a 20 year reunion show later this year! Would you come?
I don't often keep my COMMENTS on, but I'm going to leave them on. Let us know if you remember us, if you came to shows, and if you would come to a reunion show! And if you wouldn't, tell us why you're such a jerk. We want to know.
I'm the only male in a red shirt. Katie is in the green shirt, far left. Here is Social Hugs 101...