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Van Gogh-Goghs To Crew Shuttle Mission, Perform Near Texas Capitol

HOUSTON, Tex. (Dallas Bee) April 2, 1999 --The Van Gogh-Goghs, the team chosen as humanity's best hope to destroy the massive asteroid hurtling toward Earth on a collision course announced today they planned to stop in Austin, Tex. to perform two comedy shows before continuing on to Houston to report for astronaut training.

The Los Angeles-based sketch comedy, demolitions and oil drilling troupe was selected by NASA to fly to the asteroid, drill a hole and deploy a nuclear device to divert it from destroying the Earth. Before heading to Houston for a month of intensive astronaut training, the group will perform twice in Austin at the fourth annual Big Stinkin' International Improv and Sketch Festival.

"Blowing up big rocks in space is easy. Comedy is hard." asserted Mission Payload Specialist Galen Black. "So is spelling. And math."

"We've been training hard, playing Atari's 'Asteroids' almost non-stop," said Mission Flight Chief Alan Benson. "I'm told the shuttle controls are virtually the same, except everything will be in color and there is no hyper-space button. Plus, the beeping noises have been replaced with the latest single from Fatboy Slim."

"With the burden of saving all those lives on our shoulders, we figured we'd relax with a little show, you know, to hone the skills we'll use on that big rock. You know, skills like drilling mile-deep holes, planting nuclear explosives, and if necessary, mercilessly murdering any aliens that get in our way," said Mission Weapons Master Charles Rempel.

This self described "bunch of misfits" seem an unlikely choice for the role of saviors of humanity. While all the peoples of the Earth look to them for hope and survival, residents of Austin can, for two nights at least, look to them for laughs and guffaws.

"The festival is an important opportunity to showcase our talent in front of the industry and our peers." Benson said "We can't make a career out of saving the planet. We'd like to have a sitcom deal to come home to, hint hint Lifetime Channel."

"Of course, if we fail in Austin, we may be too devastated to fly this mission," warned Mission Scapegoat T. Mike Childs. "If I were NASA, I would pack that crowd full easily amused people and open a few tanks of nitrous."

The mission is of course rife with danger. "Aside from the potential of us bombing majorly in Austin, and the elimination of all life on earth, there are many other risks involved in this trip," said Mission Male Nurse Rob Terrell. "In space, no one can hear you scream, so we've rigged up a very complicated system of cups-and-string so the guys can announce ouchies and boo-boos to me."

If the nuclear device should fail, the group has a secondary plan. "We'll perform a few 'hard-hitting' skits until the asteroid 'cracks up' and 'splits its sides' with laughter!" Black said. "Then the asteroid, distracted by our amusing skits, should break in two, and the two pieces smash harmlessly into the Moon."

"I'm very exciting about becoming an astrologer," said an excited Jason Torchinsky, the Official Mascot of Earth. "I already have a star chart program for my Palm Pilot." On being informed the correct term is 'astronaut,' Torchinsky refused to answer any further questions and announced "...this freaking press conference is over!"

When reminded that this was a one-on-one interview, not a press conference, Torchinsky pretended to choke on his wallet and lay prone until this journalist left the room. Later Torchinsky's media consultant issued a terse statement announcing Torchinsky preferred to be called a "cosmonaut" anyway.

NASA computer projections predict a survival rate of only 70 percent for the mission crew, even if the mission is successful. Other NASA projections indicate Childs has a 42 percent chance of ending up duct-taped to a chair while the others finish the mission.

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