After a marathon 40-week hit run in the 1990s of “The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron,” his one-man show on the battle of the sexes, Robert Dubac returns to Chicago with “The Book of Moron,” which combines monologue and stand-up comedy to interrogate sex, race, religion, politics, the media, and the polarization of American society.
“I play a bunch of different characters,” explains Dubac. “It’s as if Mark Twain and Lily Tomlin had a bastard son. I’ve done a few of these. I did ‘The Male Intellect’ about fifteen years ago at the Mercury Theater. It ran there for nine months and came back for another six months. But that was before we had so many options on the Internet. Now on your phone or computer you can watch whatever you want. You don’t have to go out to the theater. Whatever you bring to the theater, the bar has to be raised quite a bit. There [are] very few shows that run nine months, unless [they’re] on Broadway.”
“The Book of Moron,” which premiered six years ago, was inspired, says Dubac, by “the advance of stupidity in our culture.” It has received nationwide acclaim. (Critics have warned with a wink that the show has no relation to the Tony-, Drama Desk- and Grammy-winning musical “The Book of Mormon.”)
“It’s more, ‘Let’s hold the mirror up in front of us and see what’s really caused this,’ ” says Dubac. “It doesn’t really take a left or a right side, or a positive or a negative religious side, it takes what Orwell was talking about in ‘1984’ and makes it a little more understandable for modern times. Believe me, in trying to explain the show, it’s not funny. You just have to see the show. I guarantee that it is funny.”
A fictional account of a man named Robert who develops amnesia, “The Book of Moron” traces his internal struggle to discover his identity and his beliefs, assisted by his Voice of Reason, his Common Sense, his Inner Child, his Inner Moron, and his Inner A- - - - - - — as well as the audience, which he calls his Scruples.
“Now, since his brain is a blank slate, he has no propaganda, hype and spin, no false beliefs, no indoctrination from television, and nothing from the Internet. He can start fresh from scratch to figure out what’s true and what’s an alternative fact,” explains Dubac. “What we all learn from this is that yes, there are two different points of view, yes, you have to have some compromise, yes, there’s different levels of truth — there’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and there’s the illusion of truth, and if you can start from scratch to figure all that out, maybe it’ll help you find a little tolerance in the chaos that’s going on.
“I think nowadays people are very comfortable hiding behind one idea or one bubble. They want everything black and white. They want everything just to try to validate their point of view. That’s human nature. We are a tribal community. We like a herd mentality,” says Dubac. “Humor is the only thing you can use to expose the hypocrisy. Otherwise it’s preaching, and you can go to a televangelist for that. Or you can go to a church that likes to cherry-pick what they want but they scorn any kind of humor.
“Young kids between the ages of 14 and 18 really love this show, because they’re getting some information they usually don’t get, and they haven’t gotten laid yet. As you all know, once we start having sex, we’re not interested in anything else. It’s a very smart, intelligent form of humor that gives everyone the ability to look at themselves in the mirror.”
Irene Hsiao is a local freelance writer.