BY MARY JO SPIEGEL
The U-Station Agents, a Bloomington folk-rock trio made up of Marta Jasicki, Rob McCormick, and Steven Thomas, had a dilemma: They wanted shorter gigs. “Playing for ten minutes is fun,” Jasicki says. “Playing for two hours is work.”
The trio also wanted to promote other artists who might not have a large repertoire or a performance venue. So Jasicki approached the staff at Café Django with a solution: the Bloomington Short List, a variety show comprising ten 10-minute acts.
“We want extreme variety—fun, short sets to promote anyone from belly dancers to sword swallowers to poets to puppeteers,” McCormick says. “Kind of like The Gong Show, but not as ridiculous.”
The folks at Café Django embraced the idea, and since its debut last November the Short List has provided a stage for loosely vetted performers from 7 to 9 pm every first and third Monday of the month in the café’s intimate space. “It’s a cabaret kind of thing,” Jasicki explains.
“We do have some regulars,” McCormick says, “but all are welcome, and we want to keep mixing it up.”
Phil Nista is an IU biology grad student who is also a comedian and occasional emcee of the show. “It’s a great venue for a broad range of talent,” Nista says. “Usually where I perform, it’s a strict comedy focus. It can be hard to get laughs here—it’s good training.”
During a recent show, Jasicki and McCormick helped performers set up and offered reassurance and good-natured ribbing. “That was a tearjerker, and not necessarily in the right way,” Jasicki said to the crowd after a one-act play. Soon after, she returned to the stage as Mr. Sketchy Genderson, host of the recurring trivia contest.
Wrapping up the night, Kimmie F’n Green Eyez and Johnny Profane, also known as newlyweds Kimmie and Johnny Knapp, belted out songs about trailer life and police run-ins. The audience of diners, ranging from students to retirees and filling every table, cheered them on.
“I love it when we get acts and you’re like, ‘Who the hell are these guys?’” McCormick says. “Then you get some really great stuff and everyone’s rooting for them.”
For more information on attending or performing, visit the Bloomington Short List website.