In his 1957 book of cultural criticism, Mythologies, Roland Barthes analyzed all sorts of “texts” for the way they function in the world. I especially remember his comment on laundry detergent advertisements that sought to sell more product by promising consumers “deep cleaning.” Before this, he mused, had anyone thought of linens as “deep”? I thought of Barthes last night at a live performance of the TryGuys, a quartet of comic YouTubers. Their core offering is what I think of as a phenomenological one–they investigate lived experience in myriad ways, my favorite of which relate to gender (they’ve had their nails done, worn corsets for a weekend, and wandered around town in pregnancy bellies to see what mothers go through). At the live event, they involved the audience in as many sensory and interactive ways as possible, in what I think Barthes would have found a sign of our times: when so much of our lives involves viewing and reading on screens, largely alone or in pairs, we have a deep hunger for real-live experience, especially in large groups. So this event had lights and smoke and even fireworks, audience suggestions and participation on stage, dancing and mass karaoke. But the most surprising moment came fairly early on, when one of the four, Keith Habersberger, after recounting his frustrated, early-career desire to take an established comedian he admired out for pizza, noted that his fans might want to eat fried chicken (his signature dish) with him. Then a cart full of foil containers was wheeled onto the stage, and the four performers proceeded to fling pieces of chicken into the crowd, encouraging those who caught them to break them into pieces and share with their neighbors. From orchestra to upper balcony, the chandelier-adorned, gilt-wainscoted Boch Schubert theatre was filled with the smell and taste of what indeed became, as Habersberger called it, “a fried chicken communion.” It created a wackily transgressive, good-hearted sense of collectivity, which built through all that followed.  It held the sold-out, 1,600-person crowd together even beyond the final rounds of shouting and applause at the multiple encores, as we formed a single stream of humans flowing from the theatre to the Boylston T.  Smell, taste, sight, sound, and the kinesthetic/tactile made for a wholly-embodied experience—and one that will hold us for a while as we go back to pixels on screens.