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New sh!t only: alum involved in unique performance series

Hosted and produced by Hamline alumnus Lewis Mundt, The New Sh!t Show comes to Fox Egg Gallery on the third Friday of every month.

Justin Christensen, Reporter

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In a small art gallery off Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis, a man performs a socially conscious yet self-deprecating stand-up comedy routine to a group of enthusiastic, laughing individuals. Afterwards, a woman comes on stage to perform a satirical skit where she plays a radio host who answers questions about how not to be racist. Later, there is a spoken-word poet and a singer and songwriter. The catch to all of this? It is all brand new, previously unperformed material.

And that is the basis of The New Sh!t Show, a multi-genre performance series where anyone can get on stage as long as they are bringing something new.

This series was started in San Francisco by poets Sam Sax and Nic Alea. Lewis Mundt (‘12), the first student to graduate from Hamline’s Creative Writing BFA program, then brought the show to Minneapolis in April of 2014. Everything sort of fell into place after Mundt decided that he wanted to do the show here.

“So I found a venue. Word Sprout, which is a local organization that does different spoken word, storytelling and music shows offered to sponsor the show. Fox Egg Gallery offered to have us in every month, and we’ve just been going,” Mundt said.

In Minneapolis, The New Sh!t Show offers a unique difference than the San Francisco show: all performers, not just spoken-word artists, are welcome to take the stage. Mundt believes this decision is obvious in Minneapolis/St. Paul, cities where artistic interests are diverse and varied.

“Only inviting one kind of performer seems really silly in the Twin Cities. So we just had everybody come,” Mundt said.

On Friday night, this rang especially true with the participation of comic Hans Birkelstein, skit performer Paula Chesley, spoken-word artist Danny Klecko, and musician Trent Waterman. This is not even including the happy birthday song sung on ukulele that was performed in one of the open mic slots that is included at the beginning of every show.

Because all the material performed is brand new, each show is entirely different. Kate Kunkel Bailey, the owner and operator of Fox Egg Gallery, the small community art space where The New Sh!t Show is held, believes that this is what makes the show a perfect fit for her gallery.

“It’s exactly up the alley of what the gallery wants to do. Don’t censor yourself, don’t worry about being good, just create something, dammit,” she said.

This fresh, raw, let’s-see-what-happens attitude that The New Sh!t Show carries is part of how its inaugural show won a spot in City Page’s Top Literary Moments of 2014. Melissa Wray, the writer of this City Pages article, said “The happening felt fresh and celebratory.”

With the crazy events that the literary mag Revolver holds, the incredible selection of literature-based classes at The Loft Literary Center and renowned independent publishers such as Graywolf Press and Milkweed Editions, this celebratory spirit and excitement about all things arts and literature appears all over the Twin Cities. Mundt feels this spirit carries over to The New Sh!t Show.

“It’s been really fantastic. People seem to be really energized by the idea of a show that’s based around all brand new, world premier works,” he said.

Hearing brand new material is not the only unique characteristic about The New Sh!t Show. It’s also a place where people can step outside of their boundaries. Mundt holds that this is one of the aims of the show.

“Obviously one of the major goals is to be able to be an outlet for folks to be working on new things and experimenting outside their normal genres,” he said.

Bailey feels that this experimentation, as well as the newness of all the material, helps to level the playing field in some ways.

“The people who are the best, the people who are so amazing are not necessarily the people who produce the most amazing raw material,” Bailey said. “Although some of it’s really good,” she added.

Bailey believes that this is because The New Sh!t Show is less about the end product.

“It’s less about the outcome and less about the polish—and more about the process of being creative deliberately and intentionally,” she said.

The New Sh!t Show seems to feed this creative process, urging performers to come up on stage and share their material. Mundt helps by welcoming each new performer with exuberant warmth.

Mundt’s enthusiasm also carries over to how he feels about the show.

“I think it’s incredible that we’re in a community so excited over experimentation and spending a night engaging with art that they literally know nothing about beforehand. It’s a great feeling,” he said.

The New Sh!t Show takes place on the third Friday of every month at Fox Egg Gallery. More information can be found at www.wordsprout.org/the-new-sht-show-minneapolis.html and foxegg.org.

Hamline alum Lewis Mundt (‘12) at the New Sh!t Show on Friday, Sept 18.

Justin Christensen
Hamline alum Lewis Mundt (‘12) at the New Sh!t Show on Friday, Sept 18.

Spoken-word artist Danny Klecko performs at the Fox Egg Gallery on Sept 18.

Justin Christensen
Spoken-word artist Danny Klecko performs at the Fox Egg Gallery on Sept 18.

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New sh!t only: alum involved in unique performance series