Going In Fine Form
The Pajama Men don't love us anymore
By Steven Robert Allen
Oh, oh, OK. I see how it is. Now that you're big shots, now that you're produced by The Second City, now that you're gallivanting all over the place performing your little skits to sold-out crowds, now that you're getting a bunch of kiss-bum reviews from critics all over the world, you think you don't need us anymore. Is that it? Well, just remember one thing, Shenoah Allen and Mark Chavez—we knew you back when you both still slept with teddy bears, your pajamas still had feet and you kept your Hello Kitty lights on all night long.
You've hurt our feelings, you insensitive jerks! I can't believe you're leaving us to move to Chicago. You think your new, rich, influential friends at The Second City are going to love you like we love you? Think again, wankers.
"I feel your pain," says Michael Blaha, when I explained to him how outraged I am that the comedy duo is ditching Albuquerque. Blaha heads up Fringe Management, which has produced a couple of Pajama Men performances in Europe. He first saw Allen and Chavez doing their thing in a theater in Vancouver. He loved them so much that he decided to help produce them at the 2004 Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
"In that particular arrangement, they actually provided the financing," Blaha says. "But in 2005, my company both produced and financed them at Edinburgh."
Blaha loves the duo so much, he hopes to produce a run for them in London sometime soon. "Ironically, the thing that attracts me most about them is that their act is impossible to describe," he says. "They're so different and fresh. Some people don't get them, but if you get what they're doing, it's just flat-out hilarious. They're just in a different class."
Yeah, we know. Geez. Does he have to rub it in?
Kelly Leonard is perhaps more responsible than anyone for encouraging The Pajama Men to abandon Albuquerque for greener pastures. Leonard is president of Second City Theatricals, a branch of The Second City, the famous Chicago-based comedy company responsible for producing some of the biggest superstars of late 20th-century comedy.
"Some people from Second City saw their act at the Toronto Fringe Festival," says Leonard, "and noticed they were going to be at Edinburgh. I was going to be at that festival, so they told me I had to check these guys out."
About 10 minutes into their act, Leonard says he leaned toward his wife and said, "This is incredible." After the show, he asked the boys to dinner, and the rest is history. In what appears to be the first collaboration between Chicago's two powerhouse theater organizations, Leonard has arranged for the Pajama Men to perform a month-long run in March at the "garage theater" of the famous Chicago institution the Steppenwolf.
All that's spectacular news. Of course, it would be much easier to congratulate the duo if I weren't so bitter that they're leaving us. Oh, well. I guess most of us knew it would happen sooner or later.
There's one bright glimmer of consolation in this otherwise ugly news: Our boys will be performing one last short run starting this Thursday in the UNM Arts Lab Garage. See them now, before they hit the highway for a glamorous, highfalutin, champagne-swiggin' rockstar life in the big city.
The Pajama Men will perform a self-titled show, formerly called In Fine Form, at the UNM Arts Lab Garage (131 Pine NE) on Thursday, Feb. 23, through Saturday, Feb. 25, at 8 p.m. On Feb. 25 at 10 p.m., they'll perform one showing of their award-winning smash hit Stop Not Going. All performances: $15 highly suggested donation. 720-1842.