This cartoon festival is growing up!
After six sold-out years at the Nitehawk Cinema, the childhood revival show “Spoons, Toons, and Booze” will expand to a second, larger location, coming to the Bell House on April 7. Nostalgia for the Saturday morning cartoons of their youth among adult millennials and Gen Xers has kept the show busy, and the new spot means that even more people will be able to experience the celebration of cartoons, cereal, and alcoholic beverages, said the show’s founder and producer.
“We fill up every month, and we are always sold out within two to three days of tickets going on sale, but the people want more ‘Spoons, Toons and Booze’ because of the experience of nostalgia and cereal,” said Michael Austin, who lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
Many of the cartoons are now available on the Internet, but people return to “Spoons, Toons, and Booze” to relive their childhood memories with a crowd, he said.
“People respond well to experiencing these cartoons in a group setting, and a lot us of grew up on these cartoons that we don’t get to experience anymore,” he said. “It’s not the same watching alone — having a shared experience in a room full of people who are passionate about toons and seeing other people enjoy these classic cartoons.”
Each early afternoon event features five or six cartoons, an open cereal bar, and special cocktails, including a White Russian topped with Cocoa Puffs.
The larger space at the Bell House will not only allow for more guests, but it will open up more opportunities for audience interaction, said Austin.
“We’ve got a bigger stage, more audience, and we’ve got more time, so there’s going to be new, more silly, and crazier contests,” said Austin.
Those contests might include identifying a cereal brand by taste, debating which cartoon show is best, a trivia contests, or identifying a cartoon theme song from its first few notes. The winner of each contest determines which cartoon screens next, said Austin.
Visitors often choose cartoons from the ’80s or ’90s, including “Darkwing Duck,” “The Care Bears,” or “The Flintstones,” but Austin has more than 100 cartoons ready to go at any moment, dating from the 1940s to the early 2000s, so viewers often get to experience something new, said the show’s host and co-producer.
“People will be introduced to cartoons they’ve never heard of before or seen before,” said Nell Casey. “Because some contest winner said they want to watch it, people will leave the show with a new cartoon to explore that they were really not familiar with.”
And viewing their favorite cartoons with older eyes can finally reveal jokes that flew over the heads of viewers’ younger selves, added the Williamsburg event organizer.
“The thing about cartoon-watching as an adult is, it can be unintentionally funny and that’s the beauty of watching in a group compared to watching at home,” she said. “Now you’re viewing the cartoons through adult senses, and you might catch a drug reference or something racy — and you might not like it as much, or it’ll confirm what they love about it.”
Austen and Casey hope to make the Bell House edition a monthly event, in addition to their twice-monthly screenings at Nitehawk.
“Spoons, Toons, and Booze” at the Bell House [149 Seventh St. between Second and Third avenues in Gowanus, (718) 643–6510, www.thebe