by: Susan Hasho
A bona fide Unity minister doing standup would seem like a recipe for PC, political correctness, or at least social carefulness. But Shawn Moninger seems determined to surprise. Appearing at the Metropolitan Room three times in the last several months, he has packed the house and won a place as a once-a-month guest in residence. Hell’s a poppin!’
Entering the stage after a rendition of the theme from the movie Valley of the Dolls: (“Gotta get off, gonna get, Have to get off from this ride… Gotta get off, gonna get, Need to get on where I’m bound…”) he chronicles the checkered past of his childhood, describes himself as a waspy boy of 12, chain smoking. Determined to get to New York City, he gets a job in Provincetown, Cape Cod and consequently gets hired, sight unseen, to do lights at the club Don’t Tell Mama in New York where he worked for twenty years. He tells funny stories of cabaret mishaps and celebrities and explains how he taught himself to do lights for which he earned four MAC awards. In a way, he is most revealing when talking about his relationship with David Friedman, a celebrated songwriter, teacher and performer. He details meeting David, being attracted and after several years finally getting closer to him during a Unity retreat. They have been together 13 years.
Standup has been a big dream of Shawn’s for a long time. After lighting many other performers, studying to become a minister and talking eloquently from that vantage point and gotten enough perspective on his past to make comedy out of it, he is sharing the twists and turns with an audience—funny, profane, sometimes touching and sweet, but always honest. He ends the show singing “We Live on Borrowed Time” (by David Friedman) accompanied by David. It’s clear that he has picked his perfect time to take a big risk and that he has the support and talent to land quite squarely in the right place.
The opening act for Shawn was Nancy Timpanaro-Hogan and you couldn’t ask for more. She is a performer of great presence and humor with a perfectly honed talent for connection–musically and audaciously with her audience. Her Sinatra medley was a knockout, and by the way, previewed her upcoming Sinatra show in March at Don’t Tell Mama.
Shawn will be appearing at The Metropolitan Room February 27, March 31 and April 23.
The Metropolitan Room 34 West 22 St NYC 212.206.0440