"Wits" Celebrates Intelligence, Humor and the Spoken Word
In a marvelous medley of music and the spoken word,
"Wits" brings the integrity and entertainment value of old-time radio to contemporary audiences. Broadcast live on Minnesota
Public Radio, "Wits" features a world-class roster of musicians, actors, comedians and pundits presenting a mélange of sketch
comedy, improv, intelligent conversation and music for every taste.
"Wits" features comedy sketches,
improvisational routines and verbal essays on improbable subjects (such as Edgar Allan Poe's youthful indiscretions). In one
episode, you might hear a discussion on the hidden messages conveyed in "Alvin and the Chipmunks" cartoons or a dissertation
on why divorcing couples should read "Macbeth," intermingled with comedy sketches involving everything from pro wrestlers
teaching English to luxury spas invaded by killer insects. In addition, "Wits" also features an incredible array of musical
guest performers every week, representing styles ranging from folk to rock to blues.
Along with a core
of regulars, "Wits" features special guest performers each week who are taken from the fields of comedy, music and theater.
One constant each week, however, is host John Moe, who is long familiar to Minnesota Public Radio fans thanks to his stint
hosting "Marketplace Tech Report" and "Weekend America," as well as his work as a commentator for "All Things Considered."
In addition to Moe, another regular is music director John Munson, who was once part of the platinum-selling band Semisonics.
The house band, The Witnesses, features vocals by Janey Winterbauer, as well as smooth and sassy instrumentals by vibesman
Steve Roehm, drummer Richard Medek and pedal steel player Joe Savage.
"Wits" is written by
a creative team of regular contributors including host John Moe, comedy writers Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett (of "Mystery
Science Theater 3000" fame), actor/comedian Joseph Scrimshaw and fantasy writer Neil Gaiman.
producer of "Wits" is Larissa Anderson, a radio veteran who also produced the Poetry Radio Project, which has been featured
on shows such as "Performance Today," "Weekend America" and "Marketplace." In addition, Anderson has also been a producer
for Minnesota Public Radio news and is a singer/songwriter.
Recently, when asked how to describe "Wits,"
host John Moe jocularly replied that it reminded him of an updated version of "The Sonny and Cher Show" because it had conversation,
comedy and music. According to interviews with producer Larissa Anderson, one of the biggest challenges of the show is finding
the right guest performers. Anderson says that when guest artists do appear, they're always eager to come back — and considering
the fun that they seem to be having, it's no wonder.
In another creative and interactive touch, "Wits" fans are encouraged
to participate by posting barbed critiques or encouragement via Twitter throughout the broadcast. The Twitter activity is
so popular that, an hour before each show, the theater audience is invited to engage online in what has been referred to by
some entertainment reporters as a "virtual happy hour."
"Wits" is presented as a limited biweekly
series on Friday nights from the stage of the Fitzgerald Theater in Minneapolis (a theater also famous as the home of one
of public radio's longest-running shows, Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion"). "Wits" doesn't always conform to
a regular schedule, however, and it also occasionally goes on tour. If you're interested in Wits tickets, it's a good idea
to check online first to find out about performance times and ticket availability.