In honor of Fall Fringe, which continues through Nov. 20, the Going Out Gurus are teaming up with two veteran Fringe performers for this week’s Got Plans? chat: storytellers Vijai Nathan and Sheldon Scott, who have shows running through the Fall Fringe mini-festival.
We decided to get to know these two funny storytellers a little better below. Read on to find out more about their shows, and their favorite spots to eat, drink and hang out in the area. Then join them (and us!) this Thursday at 1 p.m. for Got Plans? Submit your questions early .
Vijai Nathan, comedian and star of “Good Girls Don’t, But Indian Girls Do”
Q. You walk the line between stand-up comedy and storytelling; you host your own night at Chief Ike’s called Fan-Freaking-Tastic, which melds storytelling and comedy, and you’ve been on tour lately. But this show has a clear story to tell, with a pretty provocative title: “Good Girls Don’t, But Indian Girls Do.” Can you tell us more about the show?
“Good Girls” is the first solo-show I wrote ( I have two others “McGoddess” & “Woman on Top”), and it is my “coming of age”show. I talk about growing up in a Jewish neighborhood, discovering my dad’s Playboy magazines, losing my virginity and falling in love. To me, it’s like a John Hughes movie, like “Sixteen Candles” -- except with ridiculous Indian parents thrown in.
Your biography is pretty fascinating: You were working at a newspaper, engaged to be married, and then chucked it all to perform. Where has life taken you since then?
Nathan: When I first started performing, life took me on the road to small-town bars where I had to perform for drunk rednecks who had no idea what to make of an Indian woman doing stand-up -- and many nights, I didn’t know what to make of it either and thought I should run straight home. But I stuck to it, and I’ve had the chance to perform all over America and England, South Africa, Montreal, Toronto — and I’ll be in Trinidad in February. Locally, I’m thrilled to be a part of SpeakeasyDC (where I teach storytelling), and I have also performed at a Smithsonian museum, Kennedy Center, Library of Congress and Constitution Hall.
You’re a Montgomery County native: Dish on some of your favorite restaurants, bars and hang-outs.
Nathan: My family and I love Thai food (it is the only cuisine that is spicy enough to compare to Indian food and if you see Indians in a Thai restaurant, that means it is a good one!) My favs are Sabai Sabai in Germantown and Benjarong in Rockville.
The best desserts come from Stella’s Bakery in Rockville -- delish macaroons and fresh fruit custard cakes to die for. I thought only I had discovered this hidden gem, but now the tiny bakery is packed with sweet tooths. Woodmont Grill in Bethesda is my hang when I want meat — the hickory bacon cheeseburger and ribs are killer — but don’t forget the fully-loaded baked potato. Redwood in Bethesda is a lovely place to grab a glass (who am I kidding -- a bottle ) of wine with friends.
Sheldon Scott, writer and performer of “Shrimp and Griots”
Q: Like Vijai, whose work touches on her youth as the child of Indian immigrants, you also spent your formative years in a very unique culture -- a big family in South Carolina’s Low Country. What is that like?
Scott: That big family translated to my own personal Central Casting! They all became a great source of characters and stories to tell. We were of very little means in the material sense but we were a cultural dynasty that had amassed generations of language and historical capital that made our lives seem opulent.
What are you favorite restaurants, bars, and chill-out spots in Washington?
Scott: I live at Pho 14! I think it’s my kitchen. You’re likely to catch me in there in my underwear and house shoes. When the affair calls for something a little more highbrow: The Source is my favorite. My bar of choice is Room 11, in my ‘hood! I love to loiter, so outdoors anywhere there’s an audience of people parading is awesome. And when it’s too cold, the Hirshhorn’s Black Box and Landmark’s E-Street Cinema.
In addition to performing, you’re well known around Washington as an integral part of Eric and Ian Hilton’s bar and restaurant empire. Can you tell us more about some of the long-awaited projects that we might see open in 2012? The Brixton? Chez Billy on Georgia Avenue?
Scott: Yeah, we’ve got an intense new year ahead of us. Chez Billy, our neighborhood French Bistro in Petworth should be the first, followed soon by the Brixton, the British pub on Ninth and U streets NW, the Viceroy Burger Restaurant at 9:30 club, and then Independent Pizza at Florida and Georgia Avenues. My favorite is El Rey Taqueria, made from recycled shipping containers [at 919 U St. NW].