RVOD017 Coffee House Rendezvous

(1969, Educational-ish/Short, color)


Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy

I think I’ve overdosed on “groovy.”

Rating: ****

In a nutshell:

Amateur folk musicians and hot caffeinated beverages: a winning combination.


This picture cannot adequately convey the horror of Bill and Kevin's slightly off-tune close harmony duet.The makers of this short want you to know that the youth of today (1969) are banding together in basements, churches, and colleges to harmonize, drink coffee, and argue about irrelevant pseudo-philosophy. They hope that you will tolerate and even endorse this practice, in the understanding that at least they’re not out setting fire to things, or [shudder] listening to rock and roll.


Far from being yet another short film where elderly, plank-shaped authority figures shake their heads uncomprehendingly at youth culture, Coffee House Rendezvous is actually from youth culture’s point of view. You can sense it speaking slowly and deliberately, using small words so that that the old and square can understand. “Look,” it says. “We’re just hanging around, soaking in the beat poetry and folk rock. We’re, like, in churches and universities, even. Quit buggin’ us about it, man.” To drive this point home, they show the adults exactly what they’re out doing every night so they can see how harmless it is. In doing so, they also (unintentionally) show us how amateurish, pretentious, and self-absorbed it is.

This is the sort of ridiculous exuberance on which Mike, Bill, and Kevin thrive. When someone opens the short by banging on an out-of-tune piano while belting out an ode to coffee houses in general, Bill says, “I keep throwing that piano away, and someone keeps hauling it back from the dump.” When a particularly insightful young man notes that one of the main things people associate coffee houses with is coffee, Mike notes, “There’s a certain logic to it, when you think about it.” As an oddly shaped man rambles incomprehensibly about the coffee house at his university, Kevin supplies him with a more lucid line: “My head is a large thumb dotted with chunky features.” Even untreated, the short is so simultaneously stupid and sincere that you can’t help but laugh at it, and the Rifftrax crew pushes just hard enough to get it over the edge of complete ludicrousness. This is the most enjoyable short subject they’ve done thus far.