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El Vez Brings Mr. Bob's "Unhappy Hour" To The Casbah Monday Night

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May 14, 2018 1:45 p.m.

El Vez Brings Mr. Bob's "Unhappy Hour" To The Casbah Monday Night

GUESTS:

Robert Lopez, musician, performs as El Vez and Mr. Bob

Paul Ryu, piano accompaniest

Related Story: El Vez Brings Mr. Bob's "Unhappy Hour" To The Casbah Monday Night

Transcript:

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

>> This is KPBS Midday Edition. I am Maureen Cavanaugh. San Diego's own Robert Lopez has lived an exciting life, performing around the world, but not really as himself. He is better known, either on national television shows, or opening for rockstar, in a gold LeMay mariachi suit, as the Mexican Elvis, Elvis.
>> You ain't nothing but a Chihuahua, yapping all the time!
>> But, the Elvis parity, and the gold LeMay are gone this time, as Robert Lopez brings a very different show to San Diego. It is still funny, and still has plenty of music, but it is about the uncertain state of the world, and the troubling aspect of middle age. It is called L that is present Mister Bob with his band, the sad plus the unhappy hour. And Robert Lopez as Mister Bob, performed for us in the KPBS studio.
>> Unhappy days are here again. The skies above are not clear again. So, let's sing a song of fear again, unhappy days are here again. End of days, are starting now. There is no one who can doubt us now. So, let's tell the world about it now, unhappy days. Unhappy nights, the unhappy hour is here again.
>> That is unhappy days, from the unhappy hour, performed by Robert Lopez, with Paul review on the piano. And Robert, welcome.
>> Thank you, good afternoon.
>> What inspired this show, because it is such a departure for you?
>> It is the flipside of elders. I am a 58-year-old gay single man who has to put on gold LeMay hotpants to pay my mortgage, so comedy or tragedy, you tell me. [ Laughter ]
>> It sounds like from your lyrics, you also see the world going through an unhappy time.
>> I hope the world sees that. Ending, it is a very sad time, political, social, economic, they say, it has not affected me yet, but I think it is my reflection of tough times, and Elvis is such a positive thing, and it is also my growing old, and accepting you becoming parents, whether you like it or not. And my dad voted for Trump, so it is scary days for me to think, is this my future? Getting older, I cannot do the splits like I used to, I am still trying to be in rock and roll, which I still do Elvis here and there, but it is like a self reflective thing, and when I looked, it was sad.
>> How did you choose the music? I mean, you really reworked the lyrics of happy days are here again, in a really interesting way. What is the other music like in the show?
>> The other music is almost American standards, but from like 72 to 78, stuff like the carpenters, Sullivan, songs that I grew up as a kid, and these stories are my youth, in San Diego, from 72 to 78, and in 78 I discovered punk rock and moved to Los Angeles, and I was saved by the power of that. And that took me in a different route completely, but this is a reflection of said, reflecting it to my present, and looking at my past darkly.
>> As you say, you know, this show is full of dark humor, as you described it. People might think oh my [ Laughter ] my, my, what a night that will be. But, you actually turn this, into humor.
>> Very very dark humor. The darker the humor, the sweeter-- the comedy, tragedy. I have done this is a theater Pierce with his peace in theater, but this is a new departure, we have turned into a jazz trio, my band, the sad plus. And, I am putting a little bit of a beat behind it, to make it more accessible, because it can get pretty dark, and I do cry in the show, because there are sad stories, and people, I have seen people cry in the audience. But, it is a roller coaster ride of funny to sad, to reflective, and I hope it leaves you so said, you say oh, I got to look up.
>> I got a laugh, I got left [ Laughter ]
>> Yes. I cry, you left, that is entertainment.
>> Elvis, and Mister Bob, that is basically your character in this show.
>> Just Mister Bob, yeah. It is the flipside of elders. It is very positive, believes in the future, believes that people can change, and Mister Bob has been around the block, a lot of times, and I see the economic state, the way banks are run, the way government has gone, it is not a happy-- the more knowledge you know of how the world works, the sadder it makes you.
>> But how much of the character Mister Bob is actually you?
>> A good chunk. And, I am lucky I am both, but I am a Gemini, so pessimistic and optimistic work in both my world.
>> Can you sing another song for us, and this is also a song that you have reworked for the show.
>> Yes, depression is an actual think no one is happy all the time, and I am on antidepressants, but antidepressants are a funny thing, because they try to make you on an even keel, but there are so many medications that have different reactions, and so I would like to sing you the list of all the medications I have tried before I was on settle from, and it is a little song like this. I have tried everything man, I have tried everything. If depression is your thing Sam, 'tis of thee I sing man, to help me with my mood swings, I have tried everything. I tried Zoloft, Ritalin, Prozac gamma Paxil marzipan looks to Lexapro tetra Luvox so open and the pen elects Victor L pedicel aspirin ran out of names, so I tried again, I tried everything man, I tried everything. If depression is your thing Sam, 'tis of thee I sing man, to help me with my mood swings, I have tried everything. Twice.
>> That is Robert Lopez, again, performing a song from his show, the unhappy hour. I have tried everything. So, I mean, I laughed during that. So, this is not totally a depressing show, by any means, but, I understand that some people, who have gone and seen this show, have thought it was a cry for help.
>> Which, in the character sense, it is. And, I think everyone needs help, and I think everyone thinks of dark sets, and everyone has a dark side. And it is, I took that as a compliment, that I was expressing the idea I wanted people to think. And I am fine, thank you. Come down to the show, and I will be more fine.
>> [ Laughter ]
>> Yet, but know. I am an artist, and I get to express, and this could have been a painting, but I turned my sadness into a show, and it is therapeutic.
>> Why did you pick the Casbah as your stage?
>> The Casbah is my home away from home, workshop, friends, that is my cheers bar. A place where everybody knows my name, and it has been there for many years they have done Elvis there. My other projects, like the zero's, little Richards, and the Casbah is my place.
>> Welcome Elvis presents, Mister Bob, with his band, the sad plus, the unhappy hour is on tonight at eight at the Casbah, and Paul on the piano, thank you. Robert Lopez, thank you so much.
>> Thank you so much.