Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Mock Rock X

Playing a sport at U of M allows kids to show-off their athletic skills on one of the biggest "stages" in sports... a Big Ten stage. However, tonight was a chance for the student body at Michigan to see student-athlete classmates show off their skills on an actual stage. Mock Rock (the annual variety show put on by Michigan's athletic teams) has been a tradition at Michigan over the past decade, but I was only able to experience my first one this year. There should be highlights and interviews of the event up on MGoBlue and Wolverine Sports Magazine in a couple days. But before then, here was my take on the event.

Initial Impressions:
Having performed in one variety show myself (Greek Week 2007 at Michigan), I know how hard it is to get up on stage and do something out of one's element. While my dancing career was short lived (my team didn't place and I haven't done anything like it since), I enjoyed it and was looking forward to a good show. The night got off to a rocky start when the two co-chairs (Cody Waters of Wrestling and Laura Dunn of Rowing) stumbled through the intro. It was a 15 minute intro that only should have taken 5 minutes. Having covered both these sports (and these two athletes), I knew it'd be an interesting introduction to begin with but I hadn't expected the awkward pauses after each sentence. Both are pretty talkative, and good with a microphone in front of them, so it was a fast recovery. In fairness, it's not easy to throw an event like this so props to them.

The Judges and MC:
Desmond Howard: Howard did much better than I expected him to in hosting the event. He played to the crowd, had some great jokes ("If Bill Martin offered me Rich Rod's salary, I'd leave me wife! To hell with West Virginia! I'd leave my wife!"), and had good chemistry with the judges. One interesting thing to note: Howard had more wardrobe changes than a Madonna concert. Seriously! The guy wore 5 different shirts (not including the leather jacket and hat he wore to begin the show) in just over 2 hours. There has to be a Man-Law written about this if there already isn't one..

Jimmy King
- Fab Five member and color-commentator for U of M Basketball Radio, King was just like he is when he does games: funny, had plenty to say, and was a little awkward at times. Example: After he gave the Women's Swim team their score (7 out of 10), King said they weren't very "loose" and their act might've been better performed after having "a couple drinks." He also said the best thing he liked about the dance team were their 'risque' doll-house outfits. Way to keep it PG, Jimmy.

Interesting side note:
Both Howard and King alluded to the Fab Five a number of times and King said that they would be back at Michigan "this year." I don't know how much truth there is to that as it was said in a off-the-cuff manner, but I wish they would have flashed a split screen of Bill Martin and Mary Sue Coleman on the stage's projection screens when King said this. The pale expressions would've been priceless! However, with King judging a U of M event and Jalen Rose getting his own day last year, it has got to make you wonder about what King said....

Marcia Pankratz:
I attended this event with Stu and not even 15 minutes into the show I turned to him and said, "I can't believe I'm going to graduate and not have a chance to interview this coach!" She was great and rivaled King for some of the best jokes from the judges pannel. Pankratz had a somewhat dry sense of humor, but it really worked well for the event. She took teams to task when she saw a lack-luster act and even poked fun at the performing team's coaches if an act was really outrageous. Her only 10 out of 10 was for her Field Hockey girls, but I guess that was expected. She seems like someone I'd have an easy time playing for. Good luck to her going forward.

Peter Vanderkaay:
The gold medalist from Beijing has always been percieved as having a very professional personality about him and tonight was no different. The Rochester Hills native was pretty critical and even penalized the Men's Soccer team (one of the better acts) for having done an act that he remembered from before most of the soccer players even attended this school! He also didn't bite on the homage to Phelps from Women's Soccer when one of their members dressed in a Michigan swimsuit with 8 gold medals and did the Phelps' "arm flap" that he does before he takes his mark. PVK was also very gracious to the special guest judge (a 12 year old named Katie who is raising money for her own cancer foundation).

The Acts: All-in-all, the acts were about average. With so much time spent practicing their respective sports, I didn't expect a whole lot. But the top acts were all pretty good. Here were my top three:

  1. Marching Band: "Single Larry": This skit was great, but I don't know how to count them amongst the actual teams because the stuff they did with their dance and pre-recorded sound bites were things they do every week for football games...only with instruments in hand. Nevertheless, it was very entertaining and had a lot going on. It was about a geek (Larry) learning dance moves to attract women. The dances and idea were top-notch.
  2. Men's Lacrosse: "Workin' for the Weekend: Look at the non-varsity sport groups taking the top two spots! This team parodied the famous SNL skit where Patrick Swayze and Chris Farley compete for the spot as a Chippendale's dancer. The whole team dressed like the dancers, but the "finalists" nailed the final part of the act. The two guys who performed in the Sawyze/Farley roles were great. It was fantastic, and the guy who played Farley should get the MVP award for the competition.
  3. Men's Soccer: "In Synch": This skit started out with the guys doing synchronized swimming moves behind a blue tarp so as to give the illusion they were really swimming. The second part was a traditional dance routine where four guys dressed like the dancers from the group Jabbawockeez (i.e. the dudes with the masks on the new Gatorade commercials). The routine didn't really have much fluidity to it, and they always depend on Cam Cameron break dancing to get them through their recent skits. But I thought the synchro-swim idea was pure genius and by far, the most creative use of props with the blue tarp, and pink swim caps.
The crowd was mostly comprised of student athletes supporting their teammates, and unenthusiastic fraternity/sorority kids who were attending in order to earn "Greek Week" points for their teams. The crowd energy could have been better, but it was good to see the money spent on tickets going to a good cause. If you like Michigan sports, I'd recommend seeing the show if you get the chance next February if you've never been to one.


Anonymous said...

The judges had absolutely no criteria when judging. They stated the same thing over and over. Marcia at least had some witty comments. The judges are part of the entertainment and they were very disappointed.

Congrats to the student-athletes and Mott's. They were the real winners - all of them.

Entertainment Blog said...

well, we should respect what the judges decide. it is a sport so be sport.

Matt Boyer said...

Update: After I wrote this, I forgot to mention one thing. Kristin Thomas (Women's Soccer) should have been a Co-MVP with the guy from Lacrosse who did the Chris Farley impersonation. She dressed as "Helga" (Heidi Klum's "fourth cousin") and nailed it! The accent was great and she kept it going for the full five minutes. She even had the drawn-on uni-brow and looked like Helga from the cartoon "Hey Arnold!" on Nickelodeon. She was awesome and I'm sorry I forgot her in the original story.

And... whatever happened to "Hey Arnold?" That show was before its time...

Anonymous said...

Approaching $75k, Mock Rock X broke fundraising records...this year's judges and Michigan student-athletes Rock!

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