Sometimes, you have to leave a place to truly see it clearly — at least, that is what Mike Targus has found as an actor, comic and writer.
Targus says his one-man show, "The Search for Ron Mims," is a tribute to his years in Detroit, where he lived in Midtown, graduated from Wayne State University with a bachelor's degree in acting, and helped found and open the Park Bar with friend Jerry Belanger.
"The Search for Ron Mims," which Targus describes as a "wild collection of stories, monologues and characters," will have a one-night stand at 8 p.m. Friday, in the Elizabeth Theater above the Park Bar in Detroit.
"I was the manager at the Park Bar, and during that time, I went on many adventures, meeting people of all walks of life. I was the average twentysomething kid making his way through the underground/Detroit dive-bar scene. I drank with crackheads and I drank with kings," Targus said.
Since his days at Wayne State, Targus has worked with the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York City, Improv Olympic in Chicago and Second City in Detroit. Some people might see Targus' move to Los Angeles as a cop out; he has heard more than a few jokes about "how Detroit is a good place to be from," the actor said.
"I try to layer a bit of everything from those days into the show," Targus said. "There's definitely moments of laughter through the pain. It's a dark comedy show to a degree. You can take the show through that context; you have to be able to take life with a grain of salt."
In Los Angeles, Targus also operates Mack Black Productions, which produced a pilot shot in Detroit in 2012, and "39 to Go," a 2015 Annual Indie Series Award-nominated web series starring several other Detroit natives.
"I live in one of the most beautiful places on earth in Southern California. But I can see beauty in the worst parts of Detroit as well. Those stories fly very well out here," Targus said. "When I talk to L.A. folks, they notice my 'Midwestern accent' is strong. But they also notice the way I talk about Detroit — and they can see more depth to it than being just this down-and-out place. (Detroiters) are very nostalgic, and that lends itself to good storytelling."
Karen Dybis is a Metro Detroit freelance writer.
'The Search for Ron Mims'
8 p.m. Friday
Elizabeth Theater (located above the Park Bar and Bucharest Grill)
2040 Park Ave., Detroit