How do you define Stand up Horror? This past Saturday I once again found myself at Modern Formations: a small gallery locked in the heart of the East End on Penn Avenue within a community screaming for revitalization. The Beat Cabaret answers that call and this Saturday they presented Michael McGovern’s fantastic program titled, “Stand Up Horror”. Would you call it stand-up comedy? Could you call it a play? Perhaps you could if you wished, but you would be shortchanging his talent and skill as a performer if you did. This show stands out as something quite different and unique.
I became perplexed as I search for a definition of the term “Stand Up Horror”. I have researched all over, but no where do I find an answer. Hence, I went to the source of the term itself, I asked Mr. McGovern. The solution: “In the late 1980’s I had an interview with IN PITTSBURGH. The writer commented that my work seemed to be a mish-mash of poetry, horror and comedy. Then she asked me what did I call what I do. I had to think a minute then blurted out off the top of my head: “It’s kind of like stand-up horror.” And I’ve pretty much been using that moniker since” he says.
With that being said, the show came into focus as being just that: an entertaining mish-mash of poetry, one man horror skits, knifing jokes that jab you quick and hard, a bit of song and even a little rap. It really stands out as something very unique. Given this type of status, a one of a kind performance, everyone should try and attend one of his upcoming shows.
I think it takes a great deal of courage to do what he does as he moves about the stage in the hope of dragging out smiles and laughs from an audience most often filled with strangers. I suppose most any actor, or comedian who performs alone goes through something similar. Standing alone on a stage could be incredible as well as terribly frightening, and Michael steps into uncharted territory with his Stand Up Horror.
The lights dim as the stage ignites with bright light preparing the way for the performer. All eyes are glued forward when from behind the audience the snapping of fingers can be heard as our star breaks into song, but he carries no ordinary tune, no, tonight in keeping with the flavor of horror he croons “Drac the Knife”. As he moves down the aisle bellowing the bars of the song he twirls, smiles, and laughs with us as he gradually takes the stage. Although, he pauses to sit and explain a bit of what the night will be like and how the show plays out, the audience understands and applauds.
As he proceeds he takes us on a journey into our memories of terrors from childhood digging up iconic bits of old horror movies that are tied so tightly to our culture. We learn about Rosemarie’s Rabies and what it might be like if a Werewolf found itself in a girl’s dormitory. It doesn’t always lead to blood and gore, or so we discover. McGovern’s genius introduces us to the man who had Linda Blair for a Prom date, and we meet Dracucat and Zombiesquirrel.
All of these are manifestations of McGovern’s imagination and one by one we discover their value, their color, and their charm as he takes us into this journey of laughter and odd twisting of American horror icons.
The last piece of the show, the crescendo if you wish, breaks into virgin territory taking the audience into an area that few have dared tread. He performed Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” but he did it in a way one would never imagine.
Sitting here now creating this article I smile at the memory. He gave us a night to remember. I wonder though, would it be better if he used a real turntable, tossed in fake lightning and thunder at particularly campy moments. I don’t have that answer. After all, Michael McGovern put all of this material together and memorized its entirety. That alone must be a shocking feat. If you haven’t seen “Stand Up Horror” then you need do so and do it soon. His effort and his works makes people laugh. What more can you ask for?
Catch “Stand Up Horror” one more time at Modern Formations this Saturday, October 3rd and again at Max’s Allegheny Tavern October 23rd, get tickets here!
Performance Date: Saturday, September 26, 2015