Muriel Montgomery and Nick Casalini, the vivacious faces of comedy duo Ugly And Delicious, have a kind of magic you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere else. Why should you believe this claim of magic here on earth? Readers, who else will guide you through the tumult of a nutmeg trip gone bad? You read that correctly. NUTMEG.
In “Ragamuffins”, their current show out of Improv Olympic, viewers get a front row seat to the effects two ragamuffins must endure after deciding to experiment with the hallucinogenic properties of that seemingly innocent household spice. Intrigued by an Internet discovery deemed too outrageous to be true, the two take four times the website’s recommended dosage of nutmeg, and embark on a 72 hour bout of paranoia, regret, and mental anguish. These are the ingredients for a riotous series of sketches to follow as viewers are pulled into Nick and Muriel’s trip, where there lives a slew of amusing characters.
Many are larger than life, from the star-crossed lovers Princess Cleatris, a rat, and Firecracker, a meth addict living in an alley, to Slickface the Gangster King, flamboyantly and fabulously gay and a creative wordsmith, coining such terms as “slanguage” and “homocomplexual”. We even get to go behind the scenes of a place a lot like Sesame Street. False testicles are involved. But many of the characters suspended in nutmeg reality are people you might already know, with their idiosyncrasies exaggerated to marvelous effect. Witness a showdown between elderly married couple Otis and Bridget when wife discovers husband’s “secret” National Geographic Society membership. See a new aunt marvel shrilly over the idea of vaginal birth. Watch Muriel spit out Nick’s belly hair.
It’s been an interesting ride for Ugly and Delicious as they embark on their comedic careers. While being fairly new to the scene at around three years in, they’ve already done two rounds of “Ragamuffins”, the first at The Pub Theater over the summer. They have a webseries set to be shot in January, when they will also be refining the two person improvised musicals they’ve been performing at The Playground Theater. They are trucking right along. But the road is not as unhindered as it seems for these two dynamos.
“We have very little money”, Nick admits, but far from lamenting, he maintains, “Our writing process is, for me, the reason we do what we do. The process is the reward. Performing is an adventure, but by that time, we’ve already found the treasure”.
Getting to a comfortable place performing took work for Nick, but it opened itself to him quickly once he looked at in a way that revealed comedy’s nuances and ability to cast unique light on subjects:
“Muriel had a lot of stage experience, but I was challenged with basic elements of the performance craft. I had to discover that comedy is my way of accessing more “important” content. I think this means that as soon as I find the humanity in my weirder/heavier ideas, I’ve found what makes them “funny”, and it’s the humanity that makes them worth sharing with an audience.”
So, what about “Ragamuffins”? Is the show based on any, ahem, actual experiences?
“The nutmeg story is real. We actually made it less scary for our show. Voices in my head telling me to destroy the bathroom. Hallucinations. Not being able to stand up without passing out for twelve hours. Shocking cotton mouth. Complete despair. We don’t do drugs and we were way too old to have done this. Most embarrassing thing of my life,” moans Nick.
“It was so awful. We actually called poison control and lied about our ages,” cringes Muriel.
Their battle with the nutmeg demons made way for our fantastic glimpse into ragamuffin wonderland, so stop in and enjoy the trip with Nick and Muriel for just $5. If you can’t make Thursday nights for this season, at the very least, do as they beg of you:
“The moral of the story is, stick to weed, and don’t go doing anything weird you read about on the Internet.”
“Ragamuffins” iO Theater at 3541 N. Clark St. Chicago, IL 60657 Only $5!
December 8th, 22nd, and 29th at 10:30 PM
Bonus! See JODY, another hysterical two-person sketch show featuring John Loos and Katy Colloton, just before “Ragamuffins”, included in the ticket price.