Published on September 23rd, 2012 | by Jessica Mickey0
Introducing Fish Taco Gets Epic
Introducing Fish Taco is supposed to be on a Firefly vodka bus right now, touring the country with Rascal Flatts. This is not a joke.
Unfortunately, due to a sponsorship conflict (alcohol and car insurance don’t mix), the tour fell through. Still, for a couple of kids that started out busking on the corner of King and Calhoun streets downtown just a few years ago, it’s pretty impressive to even think about them being presented with such an opportunity. This Thursday night (Sept. 27), Rascal Flatts takes to the stage in Columbus, Ga., as Dan Hanf and Charles Carmody strap on their guitars at Theatre 99 for their second time out with Introducing Fish Taco: The Musical. Sorry Columbus, but Charleston wins.
Hanf and Carmody, now both 23, met at a church camp when they were in the tenth grade, but it wasn’t until later that their mutual interest in music inspired them to start playing together, first at the Mt. Pleasant Town Center and eventually in front of Moe’s Southwest Grill downtown.
“The name came because Moe’s had this big poster in their window that said ‘Introducing Fish Taco.’ So we thought, ‘free advertising!’” Carmody laughs.
The freedom of the street and their playful friendship allowed them to experiment and basically act like a couple of goofy high school kids, always trying to make the other laugh.
“We came upon comedy accidentally,” Carmody explains. “We didn’t write songs. We would just go out there with nothing and then play for three hours.”
Hanf continues, “We would make up stories and music, and when we would play on the street. It was way more theatrical than anything we’re doing now.”
They eventually moved their operation across the street, right in front of the Millennium Music building, which provided more space for a crowd to comfortably gather. “I think we had something to do with them closing down, if I’m going to be honest,” Hanf says. For a little over two years, Introducing Fish Taco put on a nightly improvised musical show every Saturday night for the general public. Not everyone was a fan.
“Playing on the street makes it so that you don’t get nervous about anything,” Hanf says. “One time during one of the theatrical parts, we we’re fighting, and we acted like Charles killed me, so I was laying down on the ground, and this girl came up and kicked me hard in the ribs and then just walked away.”
After high school, Carmody began his freshman year of college in Canada, and when he returned, he was disappointed to find that the makeshift stage the boys had come to know and love now had a whole new set of rules, requiring them to jump through the city’s hoops to get permits. “Charleston cut down on street musicians, and the cops started getting mad at us. It was like a switch,” he says. They needed a new stage.
Enter Hanf’s dentist — Awendaw Green’s Eddie White — who started booking shows for Introducing Fish Taco. One gig was for local graphic designer Gil Shuler’s annual Dog Party, where the boys met Brandy Sullivan, co-owner of Theatre 99. She invited them to play at the theater’s monthly “Blast Off?” series, which led to them performing in the Charleston Comedy Festival. Through that event, the duo was introduced to promoter Susie Webster, who then booked them for the Carolina Green Fair and the Music Farm’s F*ck Valentine’s Day Party. One thing just led to another, which inspired them to keep creating.
Introducing Fish Taco: The Musical first premiered at Pure Theater last April, and the boys were thrilled and encouraged by the fact that the audience laughed throughout its entire duration. For this go-round, they’ve shortened the show a tad and tightened it up.
The two-man rock opera tells the story of two gods, Kellogg and General Mills, creators of demi-gods consisting of familiar faces such as Lucky the Leprechaun and Sugar Smack’s Dig’em Frog. As there are only males, the gods see fit to create Little Debbie, producing a love triangle and an all-out war. Cut to the future, we are introduced to Pete Reynolds, a regular out-of-school, down-on-his-luck, living-at-home fellow (“Based on me, basically,” Hanf sheepishly jokes) who accidentally becomes entangled in the cereal gods’ battle. The musical revolves around Pete as an unlikely hero and the resolution that follows. Yes, it’s wacky.
“When people come to see us, they’re not coming to see an improv show, and they’re not coming to see a sketch show, and they’re not coming to see a Weird Al concert, but it’s a mix of all those things,” Hanf says.
“You have to have a big imagination,” Carmody adds, “It’s two guys on stage with two guitars and maybe a couple other instruments acting as 20 different characters each for two 45 minutes sets.”
When it comes to Introducing Fish Taco, “big imagination” is the name of the game. Who knows what’s next for them? They may still make it on to that vodka bus after all.
Introducing Fish Taco: The Musical takes place at Theatre 99 (280 Meeting St.) at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 27. Tickets are available for $10. Visit theatre99.com and reverbnation.com/introducingfishtaco for more information.
Top photo by David Mandel, ampersandindustries.com.
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