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The Van Gogh-Gogh Story ©

When Jack Benny founded Los Angeles over 50 years ago, never in his wildest dreams did he imagine that it would become home to the scrappiest comedy group to ever come out of the American Southeast, the Van Gogh-Goghs. But it did, in the summer of 1997.

What's a Van Gogh-Gogh, you ask? Why you filthy ignorant.... Uh, sorry. That's actually a pretty good question. Take four hooligans from the mean streets of Greensboro, N.C., a certified madman from Charlotte, N.C., and the baby boy of a backwoods preacher and what do you get? A recipe for danger? Hardly. Quality comedy? Sure, I guess. The Van Gogh-Goghs? You betcha!

Formed in April 1992 to cancel one member's gambling debts, the Van Gogh-Goghs were a mainstay of the North Carolina comedy scene. The six Van Gogh-Goghs specialize in sketch comedy -- short, humorous skits similar to those on Saturday Night Live and The Kids in the Hall, only without so many cue cards or Canadians -- but they also mix in elements of stand-up, improv, and the surreal. Their humor is bizarre and unkempt, providing hours of entertaining filler in a biosphere gone painfully awry. As one former audience member put it, "I was laughing, and I didn't know why!"

The group recently relocated to Los Angeles to pursue their longtime dream of Hollywood stardom. They've already played the Comedy Store, and they're busy lining up plenty of shows in the Southland.

"We wanna be big. Bigger than big. We wanna be huge," says Black. "OK, I'll settle for just not being a nobody."

The creative, informed, and funny minds of Galen Black, T. Mike Childs, Charles Rempel, Rob Terrell, Alan Benson, and Jason Torchinsky make up the Van Gogh-Goghs roster. Their bodies are also included on the roster, since certain "experiments" with jars proved too costly.

"Man, you'd think that if they could put a man on Mars, they'd be able to scoop out your brain and keep it alive and funny," Childs says. "Jeez, what is it with these people?"

The Van Gogh-Gogh story begins, oddly enough, in Greensboro, N.C., home of O. Henry, large vacant lots, and four of the six Van Gogh-Goghs. It was in this small southern city that Torchinsky, Rempel, Terrell, and Benson first met.

"In the eighth grade we all swore that one day we would be in a comedy group," Benson says. "Okay, that's not entirely true. I made up the part about the comedy group, but we were in the eighth grade and we did swear a lot."

After graduation, the four scattered to various and sundry educational institutions and/or shadowy paramilitary groups. While out in the world, they met up with T. Mike Childs, a Charlotte native, and Galen Black, who hails from nowhere in particular. Finally, in April 1992, all the parts were in place.

"Remember 'Voltron,' that Japanese cartoon about a giant robot that's formed when several smaller robots join up? That's exactly how the Van Gogh-Goghs formed," Rempel says. "We'd show you, but Galen threw his back out last time when we were fighting the slime monsters."

Through the years, the Van Gogh-Goghs have appeared at bars, coffeehouses, and comedy clubs throughout central North Carolina, honing their writing, pushing the comedy envelope, and building a devoted area following. Then, as a reward for their fans' devotion, the group packed up its collective bags and relocated to the West Coast.

"Those poor simps," Terrell says. "Our move crushed them. Several of them are clinically sad. That's why it's vital that we get a national TV show pronto."

The Van Gogh-Goghs. Sketch comedy that takes a long, hard look at these troubled times and slinks away, sobbing uncontrollably, back to the filthy hole from whence it came, but then whips back around and makes us all think and laugh. Or something.

So don't forget to head to the nearest Van Gogh-Gogh show for the the best darn monkeyshines allowable by law. And remember the Van Gogh-Goghs' Comedy Guarantee: If you don't laugh all the way through our show, we won't laugh all the way through your show.

For more information or to arrange interviews, call The Van Gogh-Gogh Hotline at (310) 474-8508 or e-mail them at thevggs@vgg.com.

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