by: Will Garre
One of the greatest things about attending The Moon is that you inevitably get exposed to something new. The Moon is a variety show that runs on the first and third Tuesday of every month. Yuletide Snapper recently had the pleasure of going to The Moon Fall Classic at UCB East on October 9, 2011, and we were able to learn more about this unique show from one of its founders, Nat Towsen.
Towsen and his co-creator, Bob Walles, have produced 64 shows since January of 2009. In its nascent phase, The Moon existed as a bright sliver of an idea: a variety show, where Towsen and Walles could showcase unique acts, hone their own talents as performers, and grow creatively. Now, waxing its way to hugeness, The Moon continues to feature great performers and keep audiences on their toes.
Part of what makes this show so interesting is that The Moon Players are always testing new ideas. Towsen, being a big fan of stand-up, considers The Moon a perfect lab for comedic experimentation. He gets the courage to do a lot of stuff through The Moon that he might not otherwise attempt. When Towsen and Walles are creating a new show, their mindset is, What’s something we haven’t done yet that we’re a little bit scared of doing? This fearless approach seems to be working.
The first thing you might notice when the show starts is that Towsen and Walles look pretty damn dapper on stage. They always wear suits, and people often wonder if they are trying to be old fashioned. They want to make it clear that it’s not about being anachronistic; in fact, the show is very modern. They dress up out of respect for the audience, and they want to convey that they are taking the show seriously. We can respect that.
The Moon serves up a healthy combination platter of stand-up, music, theatre, dance, sketch, and video. This entertainment mix is quite satisfying, because the crowd gets to sample a medley of fresh, unique performances. You will not walk out of The Moon without losing some sort of spectator V-card. For instance, at the Fall Classic, we witnessed stand-up comedy from Jared Logan; a video, “From the Files of Cryptozoology #4”; mellifluous singing/playing from The Bandana Splits and Camille Harris; and the white-knuckled, suspenseful storytelling of Tom Shillue—a colorful blend of elements held together, cleverly, by the hosting prowess of Towsen and Walles, as they searched for answers in the case of their missing friends. That’s their best trick—the storyline. Throughout the show, a gigantic, insatiable serpent, called the “Megaconda,” consumed many of The Moon Players, including one “Manda” (half man, half panda) and Camille Harris. Fortunately, in the end, the “Megaconda” gagged on bad chili and barfed up its victims. This mystery story, experienced by the hosts and the audience, provided a throughline that seamlessly linked the many different acts. Attending The Moon is very much like reading a pop-up book full of smaller stories within a larger narrative, and you leave with a satisfying sense of completion.
One last thing: We couldn’t help but ask how they came up with the name of the show. “Everyone has a relationship with the moon,” Towsen explained.
He makes a good point.