A tale of one tortured soul to another, “Nothing to Lose,” a play written by Felonious Munk, chronicles the hardships of the comedian’s life and transforms his journey into a hilarious work of art.
Running at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre in northwest D.C., in partnership with the Second City, from Nov. 11 through Dec. 31, the show centers on Munk, a Chicago man who escaped his drug-dealing and criminal past to become a well-received standup comic, TV personality, husband and father.
Directed by Anthony LeBlanc, the play takes place inside of a prison, where a Black man recounts the incidents of his life that single-handedly contributed to his way of crime, womanizing and dark behavior, through animated, dramatic yet humorous scenes.
Growing up with a single mother who was only 19 when she gave birth, Munk describes his life of hardships as a boy and eventually his life of success as a man, going from a six-year sentence inside of a state prison to a six-figure job in corporate America.
“Some of The Second City’s most innovative work has happened right here at Woolly,” said Howard Shalwitz, Woolly Mammoth’s artistic director. “And ‘Nothing to Lose’ charts yet another new path, building an extended narrative around the life of one provocative comedian, Felonious Monk. His surprising story — told with a little help from his friends — is not merely funny, but an energizing reminder of the freedom that comes from seeking an authentic life.”
An audience member from a recent performance, Vivian Warren of Northwest, lauded the show’s ability to maintain a bit of levity amid the dark subject matter.
“It wasn’t over the top, so I was able to still feel and receive the message, but it wasn’t also too sad to the point where I left the theatre feeling like a horrible person,” Warren said. “I don’t think there is enough content on just what goes on in jail, or the things that lead people to get there, and definitely aren’t enough people telling their story.”