By Kylee Dawson
DJAMILA NOELLE GROSSMAN/ARIZONA DAILY WILDCAT
"Monolog Cabin" - Four members of the comedy group Monolog Cabin, from left, Faith Lowe-Bailey, Steve Barancik, Nick Adams and Charlotte Lowe-Bailey, discuss politics after a rehearsal for their upcoming show Friday.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, April 7, 2005
Now that they've added a little more color and a lot more testosterone to their repertoire, the folks of Monolog Cabin can no longer be accused of being short on diversity. And their performance pieces are just as dysfunctional and yet still as humorous as ever.
Murdered ancestors, interracial relationships and identity theft are just some of the topics of their latest show, which will be held tomorrow and Saturday evenings.
"This is the first time we've been 50-50. It's nice," said Steve Barancik, co-producer of Monolog Cabin, who is grateful two guys have been added to the troupe.
"It was kind of looking like Steve and his harem," said Charlotte Lowe-Bailey, referring to the troupe's previous show, "Bitch! Bitch! Bitch!" which comprised an all-female cast.
"It's really fun because I think we needed more of a balance," she added. "I like having a wide range of ages and perspectives."
Sean Murphy was a guest performer at Monolog Cabin's White Trash Poetry night.
For his embarrassing moment and personal revelations shtick, he performed a piece about trick-or-treating as a teenager, which he's revamping for this week's show with the help of his fellow monologists.
"It's nice to have somebody help you out with the piece after you've looked at it 100 times, to help make it a little bit better," he said.
Having lived in Tucson since 1969 and playing in bands in the late '80s, Murphy also wrote for the Tucson Weekly and submitted work to The Onion. As a Monolog Cabin newbie, he said it's an honor to be taking some of the male attention from Barancik.
"He was lording over all the ladies and now it's a little more equal," Murphy said.
Nick Adams, who also performed his personal revelation, "Rockstar Trumps Everything," is a Los Angeles-based comedian/TV writer and soon to be published author.
To support his wife, who is currently finishing up her master's degree in the UA's creative writing program, Adams moved to Tucson two years ago.
"As a comic, it's an understatement to say it's different from L.A.," he said. "I'm very used to being the only black guy in other places in Tucson. It doesn't bother me."
After working in TV production on Oxygen's "Girls Behaving Badly," Rosanne's talk show and other reality shows, Adams said he joined Monolog Cabin to help him remember the good old days of performing for an audience.
"That's why I like Monolog Cabin. It's kind of a dash of hipness in kind of a little bland town," Adams said. "I'm providing the hipness. I just got off the hip train. Steve and those guys were hip to begin with. I better stop now, 'cause it's not hip to say hip so many times."
Adams' piece "Once You Go Black..." is an "objective" examination of the relationships between black men and white women. (FYI, his wife is an American Indian.)
"My piece is about race but when you're in a creative atmosphere, it's not really about that," Adams said. "Everyone's creative and funny. Hopefully, I'll have something positive to bring to the group."
Adams' book, being published by Kensington Books, is sort of a guide on how to make friends with black people.
"It's basically just a collection of essays I have written, am writing," he said. "It's a little bit more than what they do in the humor section. I hope people find it funny. But it's kind of a little more literary, heartfelt. Everything touches on some real issues."
Barancik's issues still haunt him, and accordingly, he addresses some in his latest piece.
"It's about my parents' dysfunctional tennis club and spending my summers against my will in such a God-forsaken place that had to nothing to offer children," he said.
Barancik suffered through those summers from ages 7 to14, while growing up in northern suburban Chicago.
"Sometimes when I go visit I'm forced to go back there and it sends chills up my spine," he said.
Unlike most of the others' monologues, Barancik's is partially fictional, but "emotionally true," he said.
As a co-producer of Monolog Cabin, Charlotte Lowe-Bailey will also perform "Anne in a Can," a true account about her efforts to fulfill her mother's final request.
With her cremated mother's remains in hand, Charlotte journeyed across America in search of her murdered deaf-mute grandmother's anonymous grave in Missouri. The purpose of the trip was to bury her mother's ashes with her grandmother's body.
"It's hard to find an anonymous pauper's grave," Charlotte admits. But to get the details of the whole messy situation, go see the show.
By why tell about it in a monologue?
"Because it happened. And all the things I do are taken from my life," she said. "Out of our worst experiences or things that might be the most melodramatic, they're funny. Tilt your head one way, it's sad. Tilt your head the other way and it's hysterical."
The Southern Arizona Community Foundation recently nominated Charlotte's own daughter, Faitha Lowe-Bailey, for a Buffalo Exchange Arts Award for her performance in Monolog Cabin.
And how does she feel about it?
"Itchy," Faitha joked. "Great, it's great. I'm great. It's fabulous, of course."
This time around, Faitha will be performing "Ritalin Nation," set at her alma mater, Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y.
"It's sort of a college monologue. It's about doing Ritalin in college, essentially, but we don't need to put that," she said. Because she is a comedian, Sara Regezi is required by unwritten law to make fun of others' misfortunes. But her latest piece will be about having her identity stolen by a woman who spent $10,000 worth of credit to purchase furniture.
"Probably very ugly furniture," Regezi said.
But, as they say, performance is therapy.
"This is like the only silver lining I could come up with this pain in the ass incident," she said. "It kind of became a bigger piece about 'Who am I?' and 'What am I doing?'; 'Why did this person steal my identity and why would she want it anyway?'"
Having performed in three Monolog shows, Regezi said reading her monologues to an audience is much easier than doing her stand up.
"This is so much nicer in that you have a script and people are expecting this five laps a minute," she said. "The audience is a lot more forgiving. We have a good respectful, mature crowd compared to the comedy crowd, which has the potential to be drunk and sketchy."
As for working with Murphy and Adams, the ladies are thrilled.
"They're both great and they're also men, which is awesome," Faitha said. "We're usually women heavy and they're also youngish, so that's cool."
Working with a black guy is also nice.
"It gives us so much monologue street cred. As if there would be any street cred to monologing," Faitha said.
"Their pieces are poignant but hilarious, which is what we're always sort of going for," she said, speaking of their monologues, not their genitals. "I think they're a great addition to the group."
For Monolog Cabin's next theme night on April 30, "Little Buggers," aka children will be the topic of six new monologues.