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 V.18 No.29 | July 16 - 22, 2009 

Arts Interview

The Pajama Men Knocked Each Other Up

And gave birth to hilarity

Mark Chavez and Shenoah Allen take a pregnant pause.
Nolan Rudi
Mark Chavez and Shenoah Allen take a pregnant pause.

Albuquerque's homegrown comedy superduo The Pajama Men, along with musician Luminous Craft, recently returned from a six (or so) month tour of the U.S., Europe and Australia, where they slew audiences with their particular blend of physical and surrealist humor. They won a ton of awards and shamed the comedy world with their clear superiority and impeccable hygiene. Shenoah Allen and Mark Chavez left their jammies at home to meet the Alibi for a vegetarian brunch and interview.

What would you say you learned about performing from this tour?

SA: That’s a hard one.

That’s what she said.

MC: You know what I learned? I learned that I was really glad that I had a sort of band to travel with. We were doing a couple of comedy festivals ... I would see these comedians doing it every night by themselves and it just made me glad that I had this sort of team that I was traveling with.

SA: And also, stand-up is like the loneliest thing in the world. We were surrounded by stand-ups all the time, and made some good friends, but those people are just so depressed. Horribly depressed, and they just go from gig to gig, for years. And they’re lonely and trying to get laid, and it’s sad. So, it was nice to know we had each other.

MC: To get laid. But beyond that, it was nice to leave together and be like, Let’s go tackle this other country. ... People will ask, Do you ever want to work alone? [Shenoah nods.] But I was really glad to be doing a double act with a third guy.

Can you talk about the musician you were also working with?

MC: His band name, or musician name, is Luminous Craft. His name is Dominick Campbell.

SA: And he is a fine animal.

But not a young cannibal.

SA: Which is good, because I’m terrified of cannibals. I have an irrational fear of cannibals. For some people it’s heights, for me it’s being eaten by another man.

MC: This is what a cannibal says: Hey, you gonna eat that? [Points to Shenoah’s elbow.]

SA: No. I’m not an auto-cannibal.

Which brings up a whole other phenomenon we could talk about: the resurgence of placenta eating. Why do you think it’s making a comeback?

MC: I think it’s one of those snack foods that people were like, It’s not good for you, for a while in the '50s. But they’re so delicious, you just can’t help it.

SA: We ban things and don’t know why. Obviously, marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol.

And eating placentas is less dangerous than ... ?

SA: Pork rinds. ... I saw my sister-in-law eat a placenta. In a smoothie. [Interviewer freaks out.] True story. My dad had a friend over and they both had some. And then another family member came in and said, “You’re not! Do you know what that is?” Yeah. My dad not only drank some of the placenta shake but offered some to company. Like, I bet when you came over today, you weren’t really expecting to be sharing my granddaughter’s placenta with me, were you?

Speaking of, like there’s a good segue here ... you were touring through Europe and Australia. Were there any local customs or foods that intrigued you or freaked you out?

MC: I ate kangaroo. It wasn’t good. A little gamey.

SA: I pet a kangaroo. That’s my self-righteous vegetarian statement of the meeting.

MC: I ate the same one he pet.

SA: While I was petting it.

Talk about your show debuting at q-Staff theatre.

MC: We're writing a new show right now. When we leave here we'll go write it. We're debuting it at q-Staff and going to Edinburgh with it in August and going back to London for five weeks. It's really exciting. We haven't written a new show in ...

SA: A while.

MC: It's exciting and difficult and fun and nerve-racking. We're taking our experiences and what we've been doing for the past forever, and here we are writing a new show with all this stuff sort of sitting on our shoulders. It's an interesting time. It's hard.

SA: The thing of it is, we're so used to each other that we don't notice what's funny anymore because we can anticipate each other so well. Sometimes just having somebody else in the room will make us realize what's funny and what we're doing. We're so much alike in some ways and we see things coming. Oh surprise, surpriseyou said what either of us would have said. But that doesn't mean it's not good stuff. We just have to find other ways of shaking it up.

MC: I think as comedians, we tend to dive really deep into jokes, so much so that often we're doing it for each other almost, and the comedy sort of goes awaywe're five steps into this joke because we keep trying to surprise each other. What's great is once we get to the audience we can pull back and realize what the seed was of what was funny about it. So I'm looking forward to that.

SA: Comedy without an audience is ... you just can't even do it. It's so weird to write it. How do you even know?

Give a one-sentence synopsis of the show.

MC: Chaos on a train. With jokes.

SA: With jokes and murder!

There's always murder on a train.

SA: That's why I don't travel by train. I only walk.

Walk, skip or travel by rickshaw to see The Pajama Men's new show, The Last Stand to Reason , at q-Staff Theatre (4819 Central NE). The ribaldry begins Friday, July 17, and runs through Aug. 1, with shows on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 9 p.m. Tickets are $15, $12 seniors/students. For more info, call 255-2182 or go to q-staff.com.

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