No one wanted to talk to John Herman about space, not after the Newmarket man came so extraordinarily close to being chosen for a space mission.
But Herman, a local actor, knows that people around the Seacoast are curious, really curious, to hear about his experience as a finalist for the Space Race 2012 Initiative. And so finally, six years later, he is going to tell all in “Spaceman,” showing as part of a double feature Nov. 2 to 4 with “Monkeyboy,” another one-man story of a failure.
The other half of the two-part show features the tale of Chris Klemmer of Portsmouth and his own profound loss when he and his friends toured minor league baseball fields entertaining crowds with a monkey mask.
Klemmer and Herman, both performers with the improv group, “Stranger than Fiction,” wrote their own scripts and each will perform their show solo.
The idea for the two-part production came after Herman heard the Monkey Boy story in Klemmer’s podcast, New Hampshirecast. Herman was so impressed with the funny and sad narrative that he told Klemmer he should make it into a one-man show.
Klemmer eventually agreed, on the condition that Herman tell his space story as well. And so the double-feature was born.
“They are both stories of very public failures,” said Herman, a high school English teacher in Epping. “That’s our gimmick. If you hear his story, it’s a ridiculous failure on a national scale.”
Herman noted that his own tale is much more locally contained, but it involved many people he knew. He was one of four, out 55,000 contestants, chosen in the initiative put together by ex-NASA pilots to keep the space race going through a commercial venture.
“I had so many people behind me and then I failed,” Herman said.
Klemmer, who by day works in sales for Ami Graphics, was equally contrite.
“He didn’t get to go to space and I basically destroyed Monkey Boy,” he said.
In fact, Monkey Boy, the former mascot for the Nashua Pride minor league team, had been one of the most popular entertainers in New Hampshire when the part was played by Chris Ames. But two years after Klemmer and Ames took the show on the national road, Ames was injured and Klemmer had to step into his role.
“Monkey Boy’s popularity was starting to grow nationally” but when Klemmer took over it was “an immediate disaster,” he admitted. “I did everything by the book, the right way, but it was missing something and there was nothing I could do to fix it.”
In the solo show, Klemmer talks about the panic of knowing no ball park was ever going to sign them again once they saw Klemmer in the part. He also talks about learning from failure and rejection.
“It helped me put things in perspective and was a great experience,” he said “I wouldn’t give that time back for anything.”
For the duo, well-known in comedy, this appearance will be a new kind of challenge.
“I’ve been performing at the Players’ Ring for 15 years, but I’m nervous and excited to be by myself on stage,” Herman said. “I know the Players’ Ring inside and out. yet the show makes me excited and anxious because I know I’m going to be myself telling a story that is very personal. Goofy and fun, but very personal.”
“Monkeyboy” and “Spaceman” will be performed Nov. 2 to 4 at the Players’ Ring Theatre at 105 Marcy St. in Portsmouth with shows Friday and Saturday at 8 pm and Sunday at 3 pm. Tickets are $18 with discounts for students, seniors, and Players’ Ring members. Reservations can be made at playersring.org or 603-436-8123.