For two days last week, there was a line of students that stretched from Rivera Library all the way past the Bell Tower. What was it for? To enter a giant inflatable black, pink and orange castle. What was inside this castle? An incredible amount of absurdity and awesomeness. Why was there such a high concentration of absurdity and awesomeness on campus? Because UCR was the first stop on Adult Swim’s Fun House tour.
“It’s really nice to go to campus and give kids a free experience that’s Adult Swim. We love to make new fans and make the current fans happy,” said Director of Events at Adult Swim Amantha Walden. “Historically, it’s just been really amazing to connect with young people. To be able to give people something like this is really fun for us.” It was a combination of wanting to have fun themselves and the enthusiasm of UCR that brought Adult Swim to our doorstep. “In dealing with your school, people were really excited and wanted us to come, and it was really that (that made us decide).”
According to Walden, for the better part of seven years, Adult Swim has been involved with college campuses across the country with different types of parties and events. But about a year ago, they wanted to do something different — something a little more … special. “We started developing the Fun House just to have something new, interactive and immersive and experiential — you know, something that was Adult Swim but was its own unique experience.” The first incarnation of the Fun House was unveiled to students of the University of Georgia, Athens last April and the most recent appeared at last year’s San Diego Comic Con, and by taking all feedback to heart, Adult Swim had refined the experience and brought their very best to Riverside. And, well, as said by Walden, “It’s just something you need to experience.”
Upon entering, visitors were immediately met with a room darker than inside eyelids, with sporadic bursts of air spraying you to make your skin crawl and jagged house music that cuts through speakers above. The curtains erased the sunlight behind visitors as they clutched onto anything within their reach. They pushed through the drapes to find themselves under neon lights. “It’s not a haunted house,” one might think before catching the figure in a black cloak with the same rabbit mask from the horror thriller “You’re Next” standing in the corner.
Tentacles (a la the show “Squidbillies”) encircled a dark room with the squirrel-masked attendant urging visitors to put their hands into the various glowing holes in the walls. Fingers of those brave enough to reach in would find an unidentified liquid or other things of a slimy and disconcerting nature. The next room was the living room from “Aqua Teen Hunger Force,” complete with a rambling audio from the character Meatwad. With two possible routes, visitors could either crawl through a TV or bob and weave through luminescent ropes strung from the floor to the wall in every direction like a rave-inspired spider web. It was more like CIA training as they ducked under and lunged over each rope and ended up in a nursery, where they found a baby. But instead of wearing Pull-Up diapers, this baby probably wore Depends adult underwear, as it was a large man who had a penchant for banging his rattle against his crib and calling out for his mama or daddy. “Breast feed me, mama!” he would wail. Those who opted for the easy way out and crawled through the television found themselves in the baby’s crib and prone to light bonks from his rattle.
From there, people would cross a bridge centered inside a spiraling tunnel, while a picture of KFC’s Colonel Sanders stared at each person as they walked through. Nothing but dim lights and electronic music guided them into a mirror maze. “I feel so stoned right now,” someone yelled as others almost gave themselves a concussion. Sweat, bodies and house music were embedded in between mirrors as they fumbled their way through the multiple twists and turns that were indeed reminiscent of an acid trip. Then through the halls, visitors would find one of three paths, each one leading to an incredibly distinct exit.
One of three paths led to a laundry room. A robot from “Robot Chicken” humped the laundry machine, which reeked of dirty socks — and was the only exit. Everyone had to experience face-to-underwear contact as they crawled through the washer machine with a pair of “tighty-whities” dangling from the top. Sunlight burned the eyes of each visitor when they ended up outside, on a hospital bed and in between a pair of giant, inflatable woman’s legs. Adult Swim staff took photos and posted them to participants’ Facebook, allowing all of their friends and family to see their “public birthing.”
The second option led to a room with strobe lights and six wacky inflatable arm-flailing tube men. The frantic lighting and lack of personal space for visitors made the tube men look like they came to life and then came after them. After pushing and kicking their way through, visitors would find a rope to scale up an inflatable wall, and then exit the castle from a giant slide.
The third route passed Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny in a armchair surrounded by red velvet wallpaper and a neon sign above the armchair that just ominously read, “This is it.” After that was a room with foam icebergs in every corner and soap flurries sticking to eyelashes introducing the last room: a jail cell, or more specifically a “Karaoke Cage.” Before one could turn to exit, it was too late. The emcee asked each prisoner for their name and which song they would prefer to sing, and they wouldn’t be able to leave until the deed was done. Some tried to hang on to the little bit of dignity they may have had left and declined. But with options such as Lil Jon’s “Get Low” and Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA,” as well as a man with a polar bear head ready to dance to your jams, it was an offer one could not refuse. The emcee sang along with the ones who needed help and dropped it like it’s hot with the ones who didn’t. The four minutes of stardom and jail time ended with a high five from the snow beast. At one point, a crowd of students gathered in the jail cell and belted out Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” together the only way it could be: an epic montage.
“I think everybody leaves there with a smile on their face, laughing,” said Walden. And just by standing by any of the exits for a period of time, one could see just how right she was. Students piled out by the numbers, all of them giddy and a little confused by what they just experienced. They would then disperse to either line up for a free custom T-shirt, a photo booth, free KFC snack cups or a second go at the wild and wacky castle to experience the other exits or just experience the same silliness again.
Maybe it was crossing paths with the Easter Bunny, maybe it was being able to go down a huge slide or maybe it was experiencing being born once again, but either way, it seemed as though everyone that left the house was filled with a pure childish glee. Despite having “adult” in its name, the Adult Swim Fun House got to make UCR students feel like a kid again — and at that, a kid who came face-to-face with a robot and high-fived Santa. And that’s pretty damn awesome.