Ajo Repertory Company

The merry crew at Ajo Repertory Company.
The merry crew at Ajo Repertory Company.

This history of Ajo Repertory Company is borrowed from last.fm.

To reach last.fm’s blog, go HERE

The Ajo Repertory Company was an acclaimed sketch comedy group that formed at Phoenix College in the late 1970s and consisted of Cathy Dresbach, Jeff Payne, Duke Shirlaw and Ben Tyler.

Noted for their savvy political and observational satire, the Ajo Rep were fixtures in the valley, appearing on radio, TV and countless nightclub appearances (notably at Paul Lo Duca Sr.’s legendary NFL club in Sunnyslope), and releasing a best-selling comedy tape called “We’ll Fix It In The Mix”.

Their material was fresh, timely and subversive, from merciless send-ups of public-radio pledge-a-thons to commercials (Bell Telephone’s “Old Friends” campaign reimagined as a tearful reunion call between Hitler and Goering), to peeking behind the curtain of a Gilligan’s Island group therapy session, to spot-on parodies of punk, rock and country acts (Dresbach’s “Nobody Knows Like I Know About Losing Your Man to a Homo” was one particularly notable country ballad; as The Mangled Pig Embryos, they recorded “Too Busy To Bathe”; a spoof of Peter Paul and Mary became “Here’s To The Nukes, Here’s To Deformity!”)

Despite (or perhaps because of) the edgy nature of their nightclub work, the group joined the cast of Phoenix’s long-running Wallace and Ladmo Show in 1984 and remained until budget cuts ordered by Gerald Springer’s ruthless station-manager uncle forced layoffs.

Only Dresbach remained, until the show ended its 35-year run in 1989. Duke Shirlaw passed away in 2002; Jeff Payne relocated to California and opened a recording studio. Tyler and Dresbach are still very active in film, theatre, radio and television in Phoenix and beyond. (See their separate pages on this website.)