Stand-up? Hip hop? Performing art improvisation poets? Even We Are TheUnreal aren't sure how to describe the group's work and the shows with which they consistently impress spectators.
Barakanoel "Mumbles" and Samul stopped in Wednesday for a first-of-its-kind Tidings Café performance, while members Dusty Rose and The Dunce Apprentice recover from illness.
"Our performances force people to pay attention and make sure we are the center of the room," Mumbles said.
"We have anti-racist and anti-sexist content, but not a specific message," Samul said of their often-edgy content.
TheUnreal has been on the road for the last eight months with a trip to Europe before that.
"We're heading to the Bay Area for about a month and then heading to Arizona and south and back to in the Bay Area by Christmas," Mumbles said.
They have been discriminated against and commended for bringing forward tough questions and encouraging people to think of issues in ways they may have considered, Mumbles said.
"We create dissonance. People don't know what they're supposed to do," Mumbles said.
"We inspire some people to make choices, like to pursue art when they weren't sure about it," he added.
The group has even been approached by people who say they just learned they are racist, they said. For them, that's a good thing, because those individuals are now able to work through the issue, Mumbles and Samul discussed.
TheUnreal believe it's not just the content of their performances that people like, it's the performance itself — with humor, integrated improvisation and other unique elements they throw in to interact with audience members.
"People like sporadic vulgarity "» in unison," Mumbles and Samul said.
"We like to pass hats," Mumbles said about the group's free shows. "People are more willing to pay us after they hear what we do."
People frequently approach the group with comments such as, "Wow! I've never seen anything like that," according to Mumbles.
That way the money goes directly to their stomachs and the gas tank, Mumbles said, and to car repairs, Samul added.
TheUnreal hasn't been as strongly embraced in Southern Oregon as they have been in much larger markets. During their last visit to Ashland they were asked to leave two open mics.
"I think Ashland has a clear-cut concept of itself as an artistic community. In bigger towns, people respond to what we do. Here, it's more of an insulated community," Mumbles reflected.
"By any means necessary we make the show work," Mumbles said, admitting he borrowed the line from Malcolm X.
Tonight at 7 p.m. We Are TheUnreal will put on a performance at the Toni Rene Gallery, 629 A St. Edgy and raw Ashland poet Chrysanthemum will make an appearance as well. The show is free.
See the Tidings Café video performance of We Are TheUnReal at dailytidings.com and the Tidings Café group page of connectashland.com.
Bonus Tidings Cafe performance: We are TheUnreal and Aaron Reed of Monk have a jam session