By Robert Laurence
Did you hear the one about the two comedians who walked into a bookstore?
The January meeting of the Ozarks Poets and Writers Collective, 7 p.m., Jan. 28, at Nightbird Books on Dickson Street in Fayetteville, will introduce as Featured Performers two local comedians, Steve Holst and Taylor Henschell. There is no charge and the public is invited.
Holst is a long-time Arkansan, having migrated from the campus of U.C. Santa Cruz in California to a commune in the Ozark Plateau in ’74, part of the back-to-the-earth movement. From there to Harrison, and on to Fayetteville, where he now cartoons on the side, and runs a business that paints the stripes on highways. “CAUTION! Striper ahead,” it says on the back of his machine, getting the attention, at least, of those drivers who can spell. OPWC regulars will know Holst for his stories and jokes at the open mic.
Henschell is Fayetteville born, bred and educated (FHS Class of ’09, U of A ’13), though he was home-schooled in his middle years. Make that home-, car-, motel-, and backstage-schooled, as he accompanied his mother and stepfather – known to the rest of us as the musical duet Still on the Hill – as the family toured from music venue to music venue. He studied psychology at college and enjoys math, philosophy and creative writing. But the bills are being paid these days via motorcycle repairs. (Call 601-5102 for an estimate; satisfaction guaranteed.) Henschell has performed his comedy at several mics around Fayetteville, but this will be his first OPWC appearance.
My title above is misleading, as neither Holst nor Henschell is merely a joke-teller. Nor are they a comedy team. Don’t think Martin & Lewis or Burns & Allen. Don’t expect one-liners, or knock-knock-who’s-there? Think two guys, one after another, telling humorous monologues. (Incidentally, “monologue” is not a real word. It’s back-formed from “dialogue” on the mistaken assumption that the “di-” means “two,” when actually it’s “dia-” meaning “across. Like “diameter.”) Where was I? Right. Monologists. Funny. Off-beat. And, it must be said, not for the kids. Scatological. Irreverent. Incorrect – politically, religiously, culturally and probably agriculturally. Bodily fluids will be mentioned (Holst); Sunday morning in America will be analyzed (Henschell). Stories will be told, laughs bursted out, maybe some groans invoked, tastes offended, eyebrows surely raised. A pleasant time is not guaranteed for all, but then, you can’t please everyone, can you?
Please join OPWC as we welcome Steve Holst and Taylor Henschell to the lectern on Jan. 28. (Incidentally, a “podium” is something you stand on, like at the Olympics. A “lectern” is something you stand behind.) Nightbird Books, 7 p.m. Refreshments and words are available for purchase and, as always at Nightbird, buy a book and get free coffee. Before and after the comedians, there will be an open mic, where members of the public are invited to share four minutes of prose or poetry – funny, serious or sad – with a generally friendly and encouraging audience. Please join us.