Dallas — The spirit of Bob is strong in David Mogolov. In the 1980s and 90’s, Dallas was home to Rev. Bob Dobbs and the Church of the Subgenius. Followers of Bob—the pipe-smoking guru whose motto was “Cut slack”—would gather for late-night services in bars. But it was a hard thinking, rather than hard drinking, crowd. The high priest would agitate his followers until they were frothing and then turn over the stage. Acolytes took the mic and proceeded to spew impassioned raves on politics, religion and whatever else occupied their fervid minds. Conspiracies were dissected and plots unveiled. It was a fine madness.
So is Mogolov’s latest, Eating My Garbage, featured in the first weekend of the first Dallas Solo Fest held at the Margo Jones Theatre, located in the Magnolia Lounge in Fair Park. Hang on for a breathless ride through a comedian’s tortured thought processes. Some performers take you down the rabbit hole. But you follow Mogolov into a full rabbit warren miasma of intersecting burrows and alternate exits. The man thinks too much and it’s not good for him, but a boon for us, sort of like George Carlin in that way.
Mogolov’s high priest is a pollster with a voice like Laura Linney. She inquires: “Do you believe that the nation is going in the right direction or that we’ve gotten off on the wrong track?” The call came during a year of compounding failures that drove him into a pit of morose self-pity. So he’s a little on edge. The act sets off a 50-minute rave that would make a Subgeni proud. Here’s an example of Mogolov’s highly specific, cascading style of externalizing internal thought processes:
“Holy shit, how can you even ask that? The NSA is spying on all of us, drones are blowing up wedding parties, Congress is so broken Republicans won’t even open Evites from Democrats, our healthcare system is in shambles (and apparently half of Americans love a shambles), a year after a mass shooting of six year olds, the most powerful organization in Washington is the National Rifle Association, which uses the same strategies as Wile E. Coyote, but wins, and the Supreme Court has given every corporation from DuPont to the makers of the Shake Weight the rights of personhood."
The anxieties of the thoughtful in these rapidly evolving times are concentrated and played for laughs in the witty and wry Eating My Garbage. Mogolov is smart, conflicted and genuinely concerned about how the world is. The result is like a subconscious version of NPR, all the things we’d like to say out loud if we only gave in to our inner irrationality. Ultimately, the breathless and verbose 50-minute monologue asks: Is it irrational for Americans to have hope? Hey, at least lately “North America’s most scandalous politician was the mayor of Toronto.”
Eating My Garbage is an hourlong meditation on human irrationality, tucked inside a hilarious tale of obsession with Jared, the now-slim spokesmen for the Subway sandwich franchise. Early on Mogolov delivers several impassioned diatribes about Subway, insulting everything about it with florid Shakespearean flair. You worry for his sanity. Is the sharp and lingering smell of Subway’s meats and cheeses really a corporate plot to transform all who buy there into walking olfactory billboards?
Layered into the mix are tales of painful puberty and unrequited love, meditations on a false floor in a 1800s house that holds meaning beyond providing home for bats, and an array of emotions as they relate to flossing. Mogolov anxiously chews on the ubiquity of corporate marketing, being a Midwesterner in New York City, and domestic life with wife and children. All that and lunch choices. Does Mogolov finally learn to “Cut slack” and eat his Subway sandwich? You’ll have to attend to find out.
In this one-man show of an extended comedic essay, director Steve Kleinedler has set a stripped-down stage with chair, a table, and a bottle of water. Showing his improv background, in the script process Kleinedler encouraged Mogolov to be fearless in taking the tangent, fostering a fine and subtle referential sense of humor that talks up to the audience’s intelligence. Kleinedler helped bring Mogolov’s verbal speed down to comprehendible levels, but clever lines still zing by, making you yearn for a pause and rewind function.
» To see a full festival schedule, go here