by Ron Jones
The Rogue Festival will be upon us in a month! This is the first of several Rogue Festival performer preview articles that we will be publishing between now and the Festival-there is another one in this week’s issue. We will also have an article about this year’s Rogue Festival Muse in next week’s issue, and once Rogue begins, watch for reviews and video interviews. For more information on the Festival itself check out their website and keep an eye on KRL’s Rogue Festival Event Page.
So, what does it take to write a comedy for the Rogue Festival? I thought it would be easy. After all, I watch Saturday Night Live and the nightly news. Well, now it’s 24-hour breaking news. Tweet! Ah, too easy! Then it hit me. The perfect subject for a Rogue comedy—me and my experience as a nude model. I mean at age seventy-seven it’s a little late for a career in nude modeling.
This pursuit of comedy starts out with humorous potential. Helen Ludwig McGill, an eccentric artist that lives up the street, asked me to model for her drawing group. Did I mention she is in her 90s? So, you have the opening scene to this comedy. Unable to resist the appeal of risk taking, I take the challenge to model for Helen Ludwig McGill and her art group. Problem is there is NO art group, just Helen and her cat named Ralph! Her attempt to explain the absence of her drawing group, “Oh, dear, Ron, they’ve been dead for years. Go ahead take off your clothing, and I’ll put on some heat!” As I questioned my sanity, Helen fiddled with her art supplies. “When I painted nudes in New York, the men all wore these codpieces. I never understood the male penis – how can men live with all that dangling nonsense?”
All right, the adventure into nude modeling begins, lots of opportunity for humorous interaction with Helen Ludwig McGill. She is forgetful, yet wise beyond words. And there are the events we share like world-renowned sculpture Bruce Wolf and his bronze creation of a well-endowed Naked Jesus! Or the time at PIXAR I become a Frog in a Tutu! Helen’s reverence for lost and found art projects. Wild parties! And eternal observations about life and death, “Wrinkles matter, Ron!”
Of course her greatest gift was the ability to predict the future. With her prodding I become a model for a Millennial Start Up. Right! Start up, should have been a warning sign, but comedy often avoids a warning or hesitation. So, I was excited to take this modeling job with new age artists and their internet canvases. It did not turn out as I expected, but, that’s the essence of comedy. Surprise. Yep, here comes the funny part. Maybe not so funny. In this leap to the future I become a NAKED ZOMBIE! Covered in white powder. Humiliated! Tragedy and comedy become one. I guess we all like to laugh at someone’s predicament: skin color or hair style, or a naked model dancing like a zombie to sell underwear. So, here I am trying to write about humor, and I end up writing about myself. It’s a humbling experience to be the creator and possible subject of laughter.
Ok, ok, as words take form for the Rogue stage, something else about comedy becomes apparent. It’s not the words alone that bring about comedy, but the total commitment to absurd physical circumstance from subtle pause to slap stick ‘Ha Ha.’ So my problem preparing for Rogue is not only to write about nude modeling but somehow perform this story. I better start watching the news. Consult Fresno decency laws. Maybe visit a burlesque show. Prayer?
When: March 2 @ 8:30 p.m. – 9:15 p.m., March 3 @ 8:00 p.m. – 8:45 p.m., March 4 @ 3:30 p.m. – 4:15 p.m., March 9 @ 10:00 p.m. – 10:45 p.m., March 10 @ 8:00 p.m. – 8:45 p.m.
Where: Dianna’s Studio of Dance, 816 N Fulton St. Fresno, CA 93728 United States
TICKETS: $6 and can be purchased online starting February 7 at roguefestival.ticketleap.com and at the venue 30 minutes prior to the show.