The Shaun Mitchell Show
Old Books on Front Street
249. N. Front Street
Mondays, 7:30 p.m.
Our town is generally known for the historic Cape Fear River, having one of the best southeastern universities on its streets and touting some of the most pristine beaches on the coast of North Carolina. At the same time, Wilmington is also a port for flourishing arts and diverse citizens, and it sadly tends to go unrecognized.
Shaun Mitchell may be one of Wilmington’s most interesting citizens, in fact. Determined to help Wilmington gain the credit it deserves for its unique local people and projects, Mitchell prides himself as a poet, playwright and artist. He has known and worked with Old Books on Front Street owner and encore Live Local columnist Gwenyfar Rohler since she was 13 years old, employed as tech crew for the production of Mitchell’s play, “Constantine.” Today, Mitchell and Rohler have come together as the creative force behind the live Internet series, “The Shaun Mitchell Show.” The format follows that of a loose, late-night talk show, as its host, Mitchell, shares his creative thoughts and ideas. He invites guests to discuss their own artistic and newsworthy endeavors and how it makes its stamp on the Cape Fear.
“It was all Gwenyfar’s idea,” Mitchell humbly revealed last week during our interview. “And I think she specifically chose me for this because she thinks I am such an unusual person. I’m also hooked into the arts scene here.”
Downtown regulars likely have encountered Shaun Mitchell somewhere along Front Street—maybe even spoken with him. His smooth Brooklyn accent makes storytelling memorable, generally with no filter to accompany the tale. Mitchell was born in Virginia, grew up in New York and has been in Wilmington for 20 years now. Over the past two decades, he has become a renowned local playwright and poet, having released three volumes of his “Big Bottom” books of poetry and art. His fourth installation is in the process of garnering sufficient funds for publication.
Those who’ve yet to meet the man will be hypnotized by his swagger and impeccable concision to captivate any spoken-word audience. His newest venture, “The Shaun Mitchell Show,” offers quite an introduction. Held Mondays at 7:30 p.m. at Old Books on Front Street, located beside the Soapbox, Mitchell, Rohler and cameraman/supposed “censor” Ted Roberts work the show. They record every episode and post it on the bookstore’s YouTube channel.
“There’s this whole YouTube generation, and they can post anything on there!” Mitchell noted with excitement. “Now, with me and my show, well … all I gotta say is: Come on Justin Bieber! We’re gonna have to compete.”
Aimed to be like that of “Conan,” Mitchell most definitely indulges audiences in his show. More importantly, he enlightens them to others who are walking the streets alongside them.
“I was hoping that with this show, eventually, people would know how diverse the thinking is in this town,” he said. “I don’t think a lot of people know how culturally affluent this town is begging to be—and can be. What I really want is to put Wilmington on a map, or at least its people. This town comprises people, not just the school, beaches and film industry.”
Debuting at the beginning of April, the 49-year-old host kicked off the show by interviewing encore film critic and local filmmaker Anghus Houvouras. They discussed Houvouras’ newest film project before Mitchell jovially asked about the worst insult Anghus received this year for his film reviews; it became clear there was no blueprint for the actual interview.
“God, no!” Mitchell confirmed. “I don’t prepare for the show at all! The majority of it is total improvisation and ad-libs. I might insert one raunchy joke here or there. For the second show, I had local folk singer Jim Ashley on, and at one point, we ended up talking about his marriage and transvestites!”
For Mitchell, his show is an open forum, with which he welcomes all creative, interesting individuals who would like to be interviewed. He also invites city folk to be a part of the live audience—for free!
“So this is it, Wilmington!” he said. “If you got something to say or share, let’s do it. We want diverse, freaky, way-out-there kind of people, so let’s see what we got. I want harmless people though—no one with a gun who wants to kill me should come. We seek fun individuals.”
To be considered for the show, call Old Books on Front Street at (910) 76-BOOKS Old Books is located at 249 N. Front Street; the show starts at 7:30 p.m. on Mondays. Folks with a censor, parental discretion be advised: This isn’t for you.