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June Melby talks about her role as host of "Cringe Night"

Posted: Wed, Apr 5, 2017 2:40 PM

June Melby is the host of "Cringe Night" at Art Haus.  Melby grew up in Decorah, left for California, where she lived for over 15 years as a comedian, poet, musician, and performance artist, and now, despite all odds and much to her astonishment, finds herself back in Decorah.

Melby has written a memoir, "My Family and Other Hazards," which is described as "A funny, heart-warming portrait of an eccentric family and their attempt to run an eccentric business: a hand-built miniature golf course from the 1950s. Told in 18 chapters — one for each hole on the course, with a theme inspired by the hazard at that hole–My Family and Other Hazards is a hilarious and touching story about putters and tourists, angst, cotton candy, windmills and frogs, (and not killing people with sno-cones), one castle, two clowns, and letting go of your childhood."

When asked about hosting Cringe Night, Melby said, "It's fun. I love to laugh. I was a standup comedian in California, so it's not hard for me to get up in front of people. I enjoy the chance to encourage people.  I can go up there and be the first goofball—I'm okay with that.  I'll start the evening by reading something of my own from childhood—last time I read a terrible story I wrote in 6th grade.  My job is to say, 'Come on in, the water's fine.'"

Typical Cringe Nights have people reading things about their childhood or teenage years. Stories they wrote as kids, letters from summer camp, a bad report card, a diary, anything with memories from their childhood. Melby has heard guys read love poetry they wrote in 9th grade, which is hilarious and song lyrics from when they tried to form a rock band in high school.

"You can just come and just listen. But I tell people to 'bring something, and keep it in your bag, just in case you change your mind.'  Because halfway through people realize how fun it is, and add their name to the list.  Honestly, we just don't want the evening to end," commented Melby, when asked what makes a successful Cringe Night. asked Melby, "Why would people want to relive the events and feelings they write about in their diaries?" Melby answered, "Well, first of all, no one would read a diary in front of people if they were the only one.  The fun is that a whole bunch of us do it.  Everyone sounds equally, well… young.  And earnest.  We all cared so terribly much about best friends and slumber parties. Gym class was unfair, and we all loved Luke Skywalker.  We don't relive these things, we just laugh at ourselves. It's healthy. It's a blast."