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On Twitter, A Downsizing Trend That's Not So Bad

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On Twitter, A Downsizing Trend That's Not So Bad

Digital Life

On Twitter, A Downsizing Trend That's Not So Bad

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Okay, okay. It's not exactly like splitting the atom or inventing penicillin. But a friend and I may have inadvertently invented a game.

I was sending messages over Twitter, the social media network, with Austin Tichenor of the Reduced Shakespeare Company. His theater group performs highly condensed and comedic treatments of the Bard, the Bible and other humorous classics all over the world.

Austin noticed we had begun to reduce the name of famous rock groups. The Beatles became the Beats. Then, They Might Be Giants became They Are Midgets. Then there was Tom Petty and the Just Friends, the Huh.

Austin Tichenor of the Reduced Shakespeare Company joins us now from the studios of WUIS in Springfield, Illinois, where the group is on tour.

Austin, thanks for being with us.

Mr. AUSTIN TICHENOR (Reduced Shakespeare Company): Oh, you're welcome, Scott. Thank you.

SIMON: This game has grown, hasn't it?

Mr. TICHENOR: It's really grown, and it started innocently enough because I had just tweeted that I was leaving on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again, which admittedly is a rookie move for a tweeter. I'm a brand new tweeter, and that's like a comedian making airplane jokes. But you, like a good improviser, yes and-ed me and said, oh, Reduced Yarrow, which led to, oh, right. That's right, reduced rock band, Peter and Paul. Peter and Paul, the Kingston Duo.

SIMON: Right.

Mr. TICHENOR: Two Dog Night, San Francisco Gay Man Soloist.

SIMON: That was my favorite.

Mr. TICHENOR: Thank you.

SIMON: You got to give the Huey Lewis one you have.

Mr. TICHENOR: Huey Lewis and the Soundbite.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: That's absolutely my favorite. And then we progressed, have progressed, to reduced musicals. "West Side Anecdote" being obvious.

Mr. TICHENOR: Yes, yes. And yours was classic, but it took me a while to get it: "Rhode Island."

SIMON: Yeah, that's from "Oklahoma," yeah.

Mr. TICHENOR: Yeah, it helps if you sing it.

(singing) You're doing fine, Rhode Island.

SIMON: And then it's grown to movie titles. Of course, "Raging Calf."

Mr. TICHENOR: "Emergency Med Tech Zhivago."


Mr. TICHENOR: "Bridge Over an Intersection."


Mr. TICHENOR: Some people - several people were contributing their 2009 Oscar editions, you know, "The Odd Phrase of Ben Snap," "The Browser," "Springer/Agnew."

SIMON: That was a good - that was very clever. I forget who did that one. But, yeah.

Mr. TICHENOR: Well, and it's just interesting how people have taken the idea of reduction. And it's not just, you know, reducing the number. It's sort of getting to the essence of the story and making something important less important. Dude, where's my bike?

SIMON: You know what I thought was a really brilliant one? A guy, Gary in Philadelphia, I believe; think about this: "Pride of the Expos."

Mr. TICHENOR: I love that. And I'm not even a baseball fan, and I loved that one.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: Thank you very much, Austin.

Mr. TICHENOR: Oh, that was very - well, this whole process has been just enormous fun.

SIMON: Austin Tichenor joined us from WUIS in Springfield, Illinois. And you can follow Austin and the Reduced Shakespeare Company at And you can reach me, nprscottsimon on Twitter - all one word.

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