David Mogolov in <em>Clenched</em>

Solo Fest Q&A: David Mogolov

The Boston-based performer on his latest solo show Clenched, which opens Thursday at the third annual Dallas Solo Fest.

published Monday, June 6, 2016

Photo: Kelly Davidson
David Mogolov in Clenched


Dallas — David Mogolov, a solo performer from Boston, returns to the Dallas Solo Fest—he was in the first DSF in 2014 with a new piece called Clenched. Mogolov uses a stand-up style performance for this piece about design. The piece opens Thursday in the third annual Dallas Solo Fest.


First of all, can you tell me the inspiration for your title of Clenched?

The title came from my wife, Lisa! Through most of the development of the show, Designed to Fail was the title (I even booked it for its first festival appearance under that name). But late in the process, as I was reading a near-final draft to my wife, she had several good notes for me, and the best was "Why isn't this show called Clenched?" The moment she said it, I knew she was right. It's just self-evidently the right name for this show, as it's the single-most central word in the whole show.

How long have you been creating and performing solo pieces?

I've been writing and performing solo shows since 2002, and I love it. I've always liked the direct interaction with the audience, the conversational feel, the eye contact, the immediacy of it. It's high-risk, but super gratifying to pull off. I can be very casual as a performer, and that's real. But it's only possible because I've obsessed over the details. As a writer, I put intense scrutiny into these monologues because I know how harshly they'll be judged. I feel like I owe the audience big time for coming out, and so I really push myself to meet their expectations. Maybe that's what draws me to it: high expectations.


How would you describe your performance style? 

My style has evolved into a sort of seated stand-up comedy. I root my shows in personal stories, but those stories are mostly a means of getting to bigger issues. Fundamentally, I'm not a very interesting topic, but if I can be the butt of a bunch of jokes that would be uncomfortable otherwise, well, that's a pretty good use of myself and my mistakes. Over the course of the show, I'll go a lot of places with the audience, but we'll never be more than a step or two away from some point of personal embarrassment.


Where do you get the most inspiration for your work?

I bring most of my ideas from outside theater. Stylistically, I take a lot of inspiration from standup comedians and essayists. For Clenched, I read a lot about design—visual design, interactive design, and product design. For past shows, I've studied branding, psychology, and behavioral economics. It sounds hilarious when described this way, right? I promise, it's all very funny.


Are you excited about bringing this back to Texas? How do you think our Dallas audience will respond to it?

I got a very good reception at the first Dallas Solo Fest, so I hope that's the case again! I do mock one topic Texans hold dear, but I'll save that for the stage. I truly think they'll enjoy it.


If you had to describe your play in five words only, what would you say?

Maybe I should relax sometimes.


Clenched is performed on the following days:

  • 10:30pm | Thursday, June 9
  • 9pm | Friday, June 10
  • 7:30pm | Saturday, June 11

» Click here to see our listing for Clenched

» To see a full schedule of shows, go here

» See our DSF special section for more interviews, reviews and more Thanks For Reading

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Solo Fest Q&A: David Mogolov
The Boston-based performer on his latest solo show Clenched, which opens Thursday at the third annual Dallas Solo Fest.
by Shelby-Allison Hibbs

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