Good news, bad news

Good news!: I’m going to be in an awesome play, Code 21, written by a fellow Macalester college student. I also got a few of my sketches into the fall Bad Comedy show, and will be directing them as well as acting in a few others.

Bad news!: The performance dates for both these conflict with Patrick’s Cabaret shows, so I’m going to miss all of the Prix-Fixe Cabaret and the Somewhat 90s Variety Show. Dammit! I’m also missing tonight’s show (but I’ll be there tomorrow) due to a rehearsal that I could not weasel my way out of.

Good news!: Since I won’t be working at shows, I’ll have to spend more time working from home, which means much more regular updating of this blog. I’m going to try to get back into the habit of interviewing some of the upcoming performers, which I have regrettably let slide.

I suppose that could be bad news if you don’t like the blog.

Anyhow, here’s what I’ll be missing tonight (but you shouldn’t!):

On the Town & Off the Wall- Open Call Cabaret
tickets- $8 from artists, $10 at the door
Todd Jay as Myrtle
short film by Vincent De Giulio
storytelling by Joan Calof
music with Erik Stoeckler
tap dance by Jeremy Bensussan

As always, check out for more information.



Holy Mother of Roddenberry, I can go outside today without my fingers instantly freezing into blocks of ice! Am I still in Minnesota? Or has the cold finally just deadened my nerves to the point where I can feel no pain?

In addition to this crazy tropical heat wave of 33 degrees Fahrenheit, the month of February is bringing in two open-call cabarets. Call me cheesy (remembering, of course, that you do so at your own peril), but I really think the open-calls exemplify theater at its very best, the adventure and the unpredictability and the thrill of the unknown all compressed down into two hours of sheer awesomosity.

Whoa. I could take that previous paragraph, put in between two slices of bread, and call it a ham and cheese sandwich.

It’s still true.

Anway, the first open-call cabaret of the month will be on the 7th and 8th from 8 to 10 PM. If you are within hearing range of me at this point, you should probably cover your ears to shield the tympanic membrane from a volume of squee I normally reserve for a particularly fluffy Bobby/Alex Criminal Intent fanfic, because the line-up sounds amazing. Kats D. Fukasawa will be presenting “Secret Affair of a Cherry Tree,” Joan Calof will honor immigrants and the impact they have had on our country in “Roots,” Irita Foucault will perform a song and dance extravaganza, there’ll be a dance choreographed by Denise Armstead, and the Halau Hula O Ka Hoku Akua hula school will present “Ke Alaula,” or “The Awakening.” 

Also, don’t forget that Patrick’s has a short guest-spot on KFAI Fresh Fruit (90.3 Minneapolis, 106.7 St. Paul) the second Thursday of every month now. I may not be able to make it this time (do try to stifle your sobs at the thought of being without my nervous stammerings) but I’ll do my best to make sure we get a guest or two to bring you exciting new info.

For more information on the artists and their acts, visit and take a look at the calendar.

A Long Overdue Recap

John Gustav-Wrathall: Oh, wow. What a perfect way to start the evening. Gustav-Wrathall’s animations captured beautifully the confused and magical logic of dreams. I especially loved the tesselation-like clusters of white-winged and black-winged angels. (Plus any dream with David Duchovny is a good dream. Although I confess that I wish Gillian Anderson had been there too. Mmm, Gillian Anderson.)

Tara Innman: I really, really wish I’d known earlier that she was performing; I completely missed the opportunity to interview her for you guys. This woman is a fantastic writer. She was spell-binding, drawing us into an utterly believable world of a small girl sent away from home for a year.

Witherspoon Trio: I think I can sum up their performance in three words: ridiculously, ridiculously talented. Not only did they completely blow us all away with their first few performances of classical works, but then they played this absolutely amazing piece of their own composition. It was stunning. I’m going to stop typing now before my head explodes with jealousy.

Laura Littleford: Oh my. Hi-freaking-larious. But more–it was just so funny and true and real and beautiful all at the same time, and she tells it so well–one little change of inflection on a word and a seemingly innocuous sentence could have the audience cracking up, or sighing in remembrance of how sweet love can be.

Wendy Brown-Baez:  Cuba and Jerusalem, bursting with life and history and humanity, seemed to erupt into the room. Others, about pain and grief and loss, sunk their hooks into us, touched something deep inside. The energy and empathy of her poems was infectious, and it got us all.

Joan Calof: Watching her recite with zest her hilarious poems and songs, eyes glinting and heels tapping, at one point challenging us to “put up our dukes” and at another leading us in a sing-along, you want to say that she’s the kind of person for whom the word ‘feisty’ was invented–but you hold your tongue, because you have a sneaking suspicion that she might find it offensive, and you might find yourself being eviscerated in scathing verse. 🙂 She had chapbooks for sale, too, so you didn’t have to just rely on memory of her awesomeness.

So, basically, if you didn’t come: Na na na na! You missed an exciting cultural and spiritual experience!

Plus you missed some new snacks. We had biscotti. They were yummiferous. Oh, and those really good granola bars with the nuts and cranberries. And Fiber One, which may not sound appealing to you, but I seriously got addicted to those over the summer. There were others, but those were the best, in my opinion.

Joan Calof

Oh, how I dread my new computer
Hate taking on that talking head
It really ruins my day
To hear that robot say
Your keychain is gone
Your e-mail is wrong
You can’t turn me on
This morning
Someday I’m going to kill that computer
Throw it out the window of my den
I’ll wipe its OS system clean
And smash in the computer screen
And then I’ll have my real life again.
Joan Calof sang this little ditty to me as we sat in the Tea Garden, sipping our drinks, shortly after I explained to her about blogs (cleverly concealing how little I knew myself). It’s from her latest project, a chapbook of poetry entitled The Lyrical Curmudgeon. “I loved to sing, actually, when I was young,” she remarked later in the conversation. “That’s the thing I liked the best. If I believed in reincarnation, I’d like to come back as a singer, whether operatic or jazz or blues.” Not all of her work is funny, she says, but she does do a lot of satire, like this song. She has sung in her performances before, but she has never put together a chapbook. But she likes trying new things. “It’s a risk, I don’t know if I’ll do okay or flop–fall flat on my face,” she told me, laughing.


Joan Calof has always loved to push herself, to expand her horizons. Eager to escape an overprotective childhood, she got into child welfare and worked with what were then called “disturbed childen.” (One girl climbed up into her lap and hugged her, which pleased her immensely–until she realized the child had stolen her brooch.) As a licensed social worker she traveled around placing children in foster homes. It was an interesting time, and she learned many things: among them that sleeveless dresses and religious families don’t mix, and that it is highly embarrassing to bite into a heavenly cinnamon role just as a family starts to thank God for sending you to them. On a darker note, during this time she had her first encounter with the reality of children being exploited sexually. There was no set procedure in place; she once had to pick up an abuse victim and drive her to the Y to get her to safety. Ms. Calof went on to work at the Hennepin County Mental Health Center, where she dealt on a regular basis with people who wanted to kill the President (so she had to notify the FBI), people who wanted to kill her (she had to notify the guards)…one schizophrenic girl she was attempting to treat literally climbed to the top of her bookcase! Later, a teaching job at St. Cate’s prompted her to cut back on her time at the clinic and eventually go into private practice. There she treated many women who were depressed, or who had difficulty knowing what to do with themselves once their kids had gone, or who were struggling with coming out (one such women was a minister having an affair with a member of her congregation–whose husband came after her with a gun!). Ms. Calof says her energy was flagging a bit, so she began to gently turn some of the more violent and unstable patients towards the clinic, including a women from Las Vegas who habitually carried a gun.

Halfway through her private practice years, Ms. Calof took a course in autobiographical performance at the Playwrights’ Center. She followed it with more courses there, as well as at the Loft. She came in second place in the Minnesota Women’s Press Short Fiction Contest, wrote a play whose scenes can still be found in national anthologies of monologues for mature actors, and created the CD Songstories with fellow writers Agnes Smuda and Nancy Cox.

Patrick’s Cabaret was actually the first place she ever performed her work, and she has since become something of a regular. She says she was scared at first because everyone else there was much younger, but that she went ahead and did it and had fun: “I find it a very congenial place. I think the people, audiences, are usually sophisticated but they’re kind.” 

 In keeping with their mutual love of adventure and the new, she travels a lot with her partner, Jerry. They have been to Thailand, Bali, New Zealand, Ireland, and lots more places that I will get jealous just typing about, so let’s move on. Travel and theatre are the main things she spends money on, she says, as she believes it is very important to support the arts. Ms. Calof also enjoys biking. This is sort of like saying Michael Phelps also enjoys swimming. “I used to do fifty or seventy miles a day, I could, but now if I do twenty, I’m okay. You know. I’m really not okay, but I gotta be okay,” she laments. I would tell you  my reaction, but I’m not really sure how to type a facial expression. Suffice to say that it was something along the lines of HOLY FREAKING COW YOU ARE AMAZING. I mean, twenty is damn impressive in my book, but fifty or seventy, Ms. Calof? HOLY FREAKING MOTHER OF RODDENBERRY, WOMAN!


Joan Calof will be at the Cabaret on this coming Friday or Saturday. Be there or be square.