PopWaits EXTENDED TO MARCH 19. (Chicago) Don’t Miss It!


Iggy Pop and Tom Waits, the creative inspirations for the show.

Even clowns have heroes.  For Malic White and Molly Brennan, the two performers/partners/lovers who are the chief instigators of the highly personal, very adult clown/rock music cabaret PopWaits, those heroes are seminal punker Iggy Pop (hero of Malic) and protean gravel-throated ultra-cool cabaret singer/music creator Tom Waits (hero of Molly)

Both performers suffer from depression and use their heroes as creative jumping off points to talk about their personal lives.  They emulate them, try to learn lessons from their lives, try to imagine what the hero would do when faced with their own dramas. They also sing some of their most famous songs (Actually that was the original idea, but as it turns out, the Tom Waits rights people had some different ideas, and as a result, Molly sings a number of original songs in a Tom Waitsean manner.  Which works out great.)


Malic (left) and Molly (right) channeling their heroes Iggy and Tom in PopWaits (photo by Joe Mazza)

The show is kind of at the intersection of clowning, rock and roll and therapy.  That’s not meant to discourage you from attending- I think this is a phenomenal and original show that you should definitely see. The performers don’t get TOO personal, but they talk about some of the hard moments in their lives, and there are some moments when it’s clear that this is NOT just a play or theatrical endeavor for them.  (One of my favorite such moments is after a particularly honest and hard moment, Molly looks over at Malic and says “I’m proud of you for that.”  And it’s clear that this is not a “Staged” moment of proud.  She’s ACTUALLY proud of Malic.)

There are a lot of comic elements of the show.  It’s hard to call it a comedy– but there are some moments of absurdist clowning where the heavy moments are lightened. And there’s quite a bit of laughter.  Brennan is one of the founders of 500 Clown, and brings their sensibility to the work. White is one of the ensemble members of the Neo-Futurists.

popwaits1There’s also a large interactive element to the show.  During the pre-show as audience members arrive they are greeted by the performers, and the band.  Audience members are encouraged to contribute lyrics to a song that the band is practicing, and that song is performed as the anthem at the end of the show.  IAt a couple of points in the show audience members are brought up on stage to mosh as Malic White channels Iggy Pop in a couple of punk rock songs, and then does a stage dive and is carried by the audience.   The night I went, THE ENTIRE AUDIENCE was on the stage, which broke that fourth wall in a big way.

This is a decidedly adult show.  Not only is there a quasi-free bar available (and earphones for the non-rock theater goers) but at least one of those punk rock songs is performed topless by Malic. (Iggy Pop was often known to perform sans shirt)  One of my favorite moments (and one of the reasons this show is a powerful transformative experience for the performers) is when Malic is putting on a shirt after this portion of the show. Malic turns to hide the change from the audience.  This dichotomy- that Malic can be naked before us as Iggy Pop, but not as Malic– is the crux of Malic’s struggle.  During the show I saw, Malic realized what was happening, and made a comment, and that realization clicked for a great portion of the audience.  Molly has some similar revelations, but not quite as crystalline.

The band of PopWaits

The band of PopWaits

While it’s Molly and Malic’s show, I need to shout out to the band, who are a large portion of the show.  Spencer Meeks, Nick Davio and Elisa Carlson all play professionally, keep everything moving, and give the show a with it and hip vibe.
I saw the show at the beginning of the run, and a show like this (with so much exploration and improvisation) will sure to be more polished after they’ve done it a few dozen times.  The trick with that is keeping those real moments real, and those true moments true, because it’s those moments that made this show exciting for me.  And I think that both Iggy and Tom would agree.


WHERE: The Neo-Futurists, 5153 North Ashland Avenue (Andersonville)
WHEN: Thursdays-Saturdays @ 7:30 PM ABSOLUTELY NO LATE SEATING.
COST: Tickets are $10-$20 with pay-what-you-can tickets available on Thursdays.
MORE INFO: Call (773)878-4557,or visit neofuturists.org,

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