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Ben:Right. I'm just wondering how you got involved with the NonProphets?
Josh:Before the NonProphets I did a Shakespeare tour of a bunch of different schools, from elementary to high school -- we even did an old folks' home. Kirsten, who started the NonProphets, she was in it as Lady Macbeth. And Blaise and Matt [Kahler] and I made up about everyone else in the cast. (Lights up a Camel Light and takes a puff)It was a full-time gig from March through June -- a sweet little actors' paradise right there.
Josh's soliloquy is interrupted by Customer One, who enters stage left.
Josh: (To Customer One)How you doing?
Customer One, an older woman, doesn't respond. She wears her hair in a tight bun and has a nurse's assistant ID around her neck. She buys a pack of Marlboro Lights, a twenty-ounce bottle of Vanilla Pepsi and a mini bottle of Seagram's. After paying for the items she takes a few sips of her Pepsi, then dumps in the mini Seagram's bottle. She sips, smiles and leaves.
Josh:What was I saying? Oh yeah. So that's how I hooked up with the NonProphets. But then, you know, you have to make money, too. I was unemployed for about a month before I got this job. When they asked, "Do you wanna work the night shift on the weekends?," I was like, "Hell yeah." I'm amped up because I just got my health insurance. First time with health insurance in three years. First time with dental in six. A dentist is going to have a field day with my mouth.
Customers Two and Three enter. Two has a swollen, puffy eyelid, which could be an injury or an unfortunate birthmark. Three has an oversize baby-blue Cardinals jersey. They are friends of Josh's from high school.
Josh: What's going on, guys? (They hug)Nice jersey. Goin' Kool tonight?
(Two nods and also grabs a two-liter bottle of Pepsi. Three gets a box of Black 'n Milds. They pay and exit, downstage right.)
Ben: Do you ever worry about getting held up here?
Josh: There were reports of a break-in before I started, but if someone wanted to rob some place, they'd go across the street to the QT. If they robbed us, I'd be like, "Here's twenty bucks, man. All I sold tonight was a twelve-pack." (Lights another cigarette)
Ben:Who were your first influences in comedy?
Josh: (Shaking his head and smiling) My favorite when I was a kid was John Belushi, and then later Chris Farley. Now it's probably Chris Rock -- I try to bite his style. I like the fact that he can make social commentary funny.
Ben: (Yawning) How do you stay awake?
Josh: A lot of Mountain Dew and a lot of cigarettes. At two I close the store for an hour and a half to stock, and the freezingness of the cooler area usually keeps me up. The newspaper man shows up at 3:30, so that breaks up the night pretty well. After that I write sketches. (Pauses) Yeah, that's the only problem with this job. It's totally ruined my biological rhythm. The night has no effect on me.
(Customer Four enters. He wears a red sweatshirt and a Krooked brand black cap with the mesh pulled down, hiding his hair.)
Customer Four: Cigarillos.
Josh: I'm all outta cigarillos, man. I got Blunts, Black 'n Milds. (Paws through a selection of Phillies Blunt flavors which include regular, honey, sweet, chocolate, strawberry and berry) Philly chocolates?
Customer Four: Yeah. (Pays $2.69 plus tax and leaves)
Ben:So, what's the dream?
Josh:I'd love to be a resident actor in a theater company, but I think that'll have to happen somewhere else. To be a St. Louis actor -- there's nothing wrong with it, but there's just not enough money here.
Josh is interrupted by the sound of a car pulling up outside. This is Customer Five, who desperately hopes to beat the midnight deadline on liquor sales. He leaves his car running and sprints to the door.
Customer Five: Did I miss ya?
Josh: Sorry, man, can't do it. Someone here already got in trouble for doing that. (Shrugs)We're being watched.
Sound of skidding wheels, as Customer Five exits angrily.
Josh: See, Blaise, Matt and I are best friends, and it's always been our plan to stick together. Blaise is going to scout LA, I'm going to scout New York, see if we can find good scenes to plug into, and then the plan is for the others to follow.
Two nights later, Blaise Azzara pulls into a mostly empty parking lot in his gray Crown Victoria, where a few other NonProphets sit atop their cars, waiting for their rehearsal space -- a small chiropractic office in south city -- to become available. One of the docs from the office donates the space to the NonProphets.
While they wait, Kirsten Wylder flips her blond hair to show off her new T-shirt, which features a cartoon boy holding up a Christmas-tree air freshener. "You smell like dookie," he says on the front of the shirt. On the back: "No really, you do though."
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