Jonathan Charles Fox airs ‘Dirty Laundry’ at DVAA
Jonathan Charles Fox, author of The River Reporter’s “In My Humble Opinion” column, will once again spread those humble opinions in the form of a one-man show at the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance (DVAA). “One of the first things I bring up when people ask me about it is Spalding Gray,” says Fox, who counts “talking” as a personal strong suit. “I don’t know that he coined the term ‘monologist,’ but that is what he was, and I’ve always admired him... The fact that he could come out in a room that had 60 people in it, or a thousand people in it, and sit down without a script and just tell a story, and be entertaining and engage an audience without being confident... I don’t actually know what I’m going to talk about until I’m in that room at that time. I might have a general idea, because every show I do is thematic… You ask me what people can expect? The unexpected. But storytelling is what it’s all about. And they’re all personal, true stories.”
The theme and title of this particular show will be “Dirty Laundry: It All Comes Out in the Wash,” and it’s obvious that he’s put a lot of thought into what he calls a “nerve-wracking” format. “Often people think, ‘well, ‘Dirty Laundry,’ he’s going to tell tales out of school. I may. Really, it’s the laundry itself—which will be present at the show—[which] is my laundry, but it’s more a metaphor… I’m not talking at the audience, I’m talking with the audience. It’s a conversation, but it’s a conversation that, really, is about me,” Fox says with a laugh. “But there is a conversation. So if somebody says ‘I see the clothesline’—and there will be one—‘and there’s a shirt on there that’s really intriguing, what can you tell me about that shirt?’ We’ll have the opportunity to do that. What that story will be, I’m unsure of yet.”
The inspiration for the project sums everything up: “I was actually putting away T-shirts a year ago, doing my exchange of summer and winter clothing, and I was going through a lot of T-shirts. ‘Ah, I should really get rid of this, but it reminds me of “blank.”’ And after that happened like three or four times—‘Oh, I haven’t worn this shirt in five years, but I remember the concert’—I’m like, there may be something in this… there may be an afternoon of storytelling out of this, because each shirt has a story.”
As he full well knows and is quick to remind us in his work, no story about Jonathan Charles Fox is complete without Dharma the Wonder Dog, a small, sprightly Havanese who became his service animal and warns him about impending seizures. Another self-deprecating joke: “I don’t think they’re coming to see me at all, they’re coming to see the dog. She’s my ace in the hole, always. [But] I embrace it. I created this monster, I just didn’t do it on purpose. Dharma’s a great icebreaker, tremendous… If, for some reason, I don’t mention her [in my column], I get hate mail.” He’s still considering whether or not they’ll be wearing matching pajamas at the show.
Looking back on his own career as an actor and a writer, Fox seems content with his current lot in life. “What I get back from doing this, what I get out of it—I’m not performing, per se… I’m not taking another role or mantle of anything [other than] what I am, and that’s Jonathan Charles Fox. This community has embraced me as ‘that guy.’ So I see things, I host events, I get asked to do things like that, which is kind of cool, but it’s as me. People seem to respond to me… When I first started here at The River Reporter, my first column said, ‘I’m not anywhere near as interested in what I think, in my humble opinion, as I am in yours. So get back to me on that, World.’ And they did. So that’s still going on 11 years later. People are still responding to me and apparently feel like it’s OK to have a conversation with me. And everything I do is a conversation.”
Fox will stage “Dirty Laundry: It All Comes Out in the Wash” at the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance, 37 Main Street in Narrowsburg, on Saturday, February 17 and Sunday, February 18 at 2 p.m. A meet-and-greet will be held after the show at The Laundrette restaurant at 20 5th St. For more information, visit delawarevalleyartsalliance. org or call 845/252-7576.