For once, John Moe sounded happy this week about his musical comedy show “Wits” not being on the radio anymore, as it was for five years, 2010-2015.
“We don’t have to worry about how a bit might go over in Oklahoma now,” the Minnesota Public Radio vet gloated, and cheekily added, “It’s going to be nonstop swear words.”
He was kidding about the latter point, but Moe was seriously relishing the freedom being granted to him and his “Wits” conspirators as they stage a first-ever reunion show Saturday night at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul. The performance is being staged “just for the fun of it,” Moe said, with no plans to broadcast, webcast, or podcast it.
“Our goal is to just entertain the audience there in the theater, which we presume will mostly be people who are fans of the show already,” Moe explained Wednesday morning, following a Tuesday night rehearsal that he said “very much felt like getting the old band back together.”
Bandleader John Munson of Semisonic and New Standards notoriety is back in the fold, of course, as are the other members of the Witnesses such as Janey Winterbauer, Steve Roehm and Joe Savage (and Noah Levy sitting in on drums). Moe said it was Munson’s idea to just stage the reunion themselves, without any broadcast plans or the involvement of MPR and its American Public Media brand, which owns the rights to the show but readily signed off on the reunion performance.
MPR/APM tried but failed to turn “Wits” into a “Prairie Home Companion”-style syndicated hit across the country. Now the host of the “Hilarious World of Depression” podcast – he has a book of the same title coming in May, and often speaks on mental health issues – Moe said he has no designs on trying to revive “Wits” in some other form.
“I love what I’m doing now,” he said, and admitted, “I could never quite figure out how to write more mass-appeal humor. I only know how to do the more oddball, slice-of-like-mindedness humor we had on the show.”
Toward that end, fans can probably expect bits like “Murder Cats” and “Pop Song Correspondences” in Saturday’s performances. Moe wouldn’t name any of the “mystery surprise guests” being promised – the fact that rapper/comic Open Mike Eagle is playing the Turf Club a night earlier might be one hint – but the host did say, “It’s going to be all ‘Wits’ veterans.”
“People who liked the show before probably know who and what to expect,” Moe said. “We’re not trying to restart it or change it up. We’re just celebrating the show we had and the fun we all had together doing it.”
As of mid-day Wednesday, limited tickets to the reunion show were still available via eTix ($35-$55).