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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Support The Troupes

This is not television. 
We do not have access to a staff of Ivy League writers masking their east coast pretentiousness inside of humour and wit. We do not have access to the advertising monies of coca-cola, and Ford. The finished product is not wholly polished nor is it without flaw or gaffe. This is black-box, gypsy, living room comedy in it's purest form. and I know I'm biased, but that is the beauty of it all. 

I know, it can be a little intimidating. I go to a lot of shows and feel a bit like an outcast, like I don't know anyone at the party. I assure you that a lot of the awkwardness comes from being outside of the comforts of your living room, or a dark movie theater where you are watching images of light bouncing on a cloth screen. We have become accustomed to the anonymity of it all. This I believe is for several reasons: 

1. We live in an uber (pun intended) technical age, ney the future! All of our Marty McFly machines constantly intice us and spoon feed us snippets of contextless stories and sports highlights. We can shop for groceries, dinner, people all at the swipe of a finger. We have lost the ability to sit in a room with other humans and, what's the word I'm searching for, pretend? Yes, pretend. Such a remearkable word, do you remember that word? Do you remember what that feels like? Now people like Michael Bay do all of our pretending for us. We just simply fix our gaze on pixels and check out. 

2. Strange strangers are strange. The vast spectrum of "theater people" can be really odd. As I said before, I often feel like an outcast when I just simply attend a show that seems interesting without knowing anyone or being personally "invited". You never know the dress code, hoodie, jeans, chucks, horn-rimmed glasses, hair tussled, man-arexia is really in in this environment. Self-produced shows lack bedside manner. No real presence of hosts ushering you to assure you're a. welcome and b. totally doing the right thing and no one is silently judging you. I mean that's the fear, right? Where am I supposed to sit? What if I need to sprint out of here and these people can all see me? They're all gonna laugh at me!

3.  What if it's dumb? This is actually a very valid question. We don't simply have the luxury of changing the channel. I would challenge you, however to push past the vague "this is lame" and really dissect what isn't resonating with you. I once watched an elderly European woman cough up phlegm, chew it, and then swollow it repeatedly for an entire train ride from the Damen stop to Merchandise Mart. It was fascinating and disgusting all at the same time, my take away was a creative spin on the story of Sisyphus. My point being, "dumb" is a remedial way of saying "boring" and boring, we all learned as adolesents, is a "state of mind". We developed "boredom" almost exactly the same time we stopped pretending. 

4. There is little to no benefit to me seeing a live show versus just staying home and being comfortable.  We live in an interesting time. A time where if we are all honest with ourselves, we are secretly a bit relieved when plans fall through, or a freind cancels on us. I am not the expetion to this cultural phenom. I get it. I have what I like to call "Deisel socialbility" simply put, it takes a bit to warm me up, but once I'm moving I'm a force to be reckoned with. Regular life of the party when a scant hour before I was secretly hoping that the place I was going to had a small fire and of course no one was hurt. for myself, 99% of my excursions into the dark abyss of the "world" are in hindsight really fun and strangely refreshing. I call it "earning the couch" I've left it all on the dance floor and so when I'm recovering on my couch the next day, I earned it, damn it. The benifits include but are not limited to; life experience (in 10 years no one is going to reference that entourage marathon), Meeting new people (relax, put your head between your knees) at best you may be on your way to gaining new life-long friends, also heightening your chances of having sex with someone besides yourself (not that ther's anything wrong with that). 

Perhaps, i've gone a bit off topic, so I will try to reign it back in. Lastly, and perhaps the most seminal reason live shows are better is; 

5. I do them, duh. 


5. Attendance produces encouragement, encouragement produces creativity, and creativity begets creativity. This is something I see all of the time. There is a saying that "everyone's a comedian when they leave a comedy show." There's a reason for that, when done right your brain is engaged and in go mode you want to keep playing. It's as if some invisible adult has arrived and said, "okay, say goodbye. we have to go home." we've just grown so accustomed to the leaving part that the transition back to "normal life" lacks the tantrums and wailing now. "doesn't it scare you, your will is not as strong as it used to be?" There is a supernatural energy (did I lose you?) that surrounds people in their creative element. Let's look at it like cocaine, shall we? Whether you have ever partaken in drugs or not (am I am not condoning it) surely you can understand that it is most effective in its purest form. Imagine your run of the mill no budget sketch/ improv/ one-act play is a tannish, off white, pure Bolivian cocaine and the 22 min sit-com is cocaine that one person had a vision for and then a team developed that idea and actors interpreted those ideas through the lens of their character and a different director ususally weekly interprets that vision yet again and advertisers look at these ideas and say "ok, this is sterile enough that we can promote our dishwashers and febreeze to this" and mass audiences watch it or they don't and network executives (who couldn't find original and creative programming if it were their genitals) interpret this data in units and "target demographics" and through this spectrum programs live and die. Their Cocaine is "stepped on" stretched to maximize profitability. This is why SNL hasn't been consistantly funny for 30 years. They aren't these rebellious youngsters anymore, they are the machine. 

I could drone on and on about the contrasts, I'm sure this isn't the end of my rant, but I will stop here because the two fingers I am typing with are exhausted. I emplore you to seek out a low-budget, live show (second-city mainstage doesn't count, it's a virtual tour bus for Iowans and Shaumburgians to "experience what it's like to take in the big city") I mean real nitty-gritty shit. If you need suggestions just ask, I'm always looking for unsuspecting people to drag to shows with me. Also, coincidently, I happen to have a show up currently called "Beyond Say" at the Den theater (1333 N Milwaukee shameless plug). Just know that without you all of this goes away and then you're forced to watch the Kardashians. 

"Be the change you wish to see in the world (I'm starving)" -Ghandi

Monday, February 23, 2015

New Show announcement:

Second Sunday

Sketch Show

Featuring: the Tourists


Sunday, March 8th
  @ 315 N Lasalle 
       Chicago, Il

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Something old something new

So this is the new year...

2015. The future. The official 80's sci-fi future. Future me is mediocre and has let adolescent me down in so many ways. At 18 I had delusions of grandeur about living in a fairly modest apartment in NYC funded by my regular gig at SNL (adolescent me loved the acronyms) I would be having sexcapades with models and actresses doing just enough drugs to keep me off of any "in memorium" lists. No kids. No worries. Just limo rides to NBA (see) games, but I would remain true to Chicago sports.

At any given time you could catch me in my room practicing my talk show appearances
Host: which do you enjoy more the writing or the acting?
Me: My God man, these are the tough questions that's a real Sofie's choice Arsenio, I guess with a gun to my head I would choose pizza.
Host: Pizza wasn't an option.
Me: See that's where you're wrong my man, pizza is always an option (crowd dies of laughter because I literally murdered them)

Here is my dilemma, if I had a Delorian (sp?) I would rather hang out with that youthful, spry, wide-eyed, crazy bastard than the stout, bald, weather worn, cynical, animatronic statistic I am now. Who wouldn't, right? We obsess and romanize youth. 30's the new 20 my ass. At 20 I didn't need antacids or an overall will to live (I'm joking mom relax). But this thought occurred to me it is not original by any means at all, and truth be told I probably picked it up from some internet meme (something young me would know nothing about) that thought is this: we only get one go at this whole crazy ride, there is no "dress rehearsal" and sure I can blame so many things for not being the "me I wanted to be" but at the end of the day it is my responsibility to pursue and at least put myself in the direct way of becoming that person. So my New Years resolution is this, stop settling. Remain crazy and optimistic and wide-eyed even when life no longer seems to lend itself for me to be. Simple enough, right?

Well I am looking forward to this present-day future but am also borrowing some insanity from my past. We'll see how it shakes down.

Happy New Year!


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

I'm Still Alive...(do I deserve to be)


I'm still alive. Toiling for the man in the hustle and bustle of river north. Things have began to be manageable in my "the reason I pay rent and have insurance" job. So that's good! My childhood heroes have killed themselves or are rapists, so that's not good! 
I won't attempt to wax poetic about morality, these topics have been exhausted. As have the platitudes and sentiments. So what is left you ask? Humor. Humor or humanity be damned. I am working on lots of things to scratch your itching ears and eyeballs and I will keep you posted on them as they come nearer (unto thee). 

In the meantime, enjoy your families this holiday season and stay hydrated! 


Monday, November 3, 2014

Follow the fear.

"Do one thing every day that scares you" -Eleanor Roosevelt 

Chicagoans don't scare easily. We face a level of danger every day just living amongst the social experiment of all kinds of people living in close proximity to one another. 

Sometimes, you need a reminder that life is too short to let all of the risks prevent you from achieving your dreams. Whether that dream is professional success, music, poetry, comedy, having children, or even walking between two skyscrapers on chilly night in the Windy City, we needed someone to step out on the wire first. 

We knew he could fall, but he walked across those buildings with a city, rather humanity on his shoulders. The world needs heroes. People who offend our minds and remind us that it is ok to take risks. Tonight, Nik reminded the city of Chicago and the entire world that we should all step outside of our comfort zones, and none of us is working with a net. 

Challenge accepted. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Devil May Care

I approached a few people with an idea, the background is, I wanted to gig out again with some new material that I am developing for an album later this summer. You're all invited by the way. (I want to record it in my hometown of Freeport, Illinois before I, or it dies). Instead of hitting the old stand by bars and clubs I wanted to do something different. I wanted to do "focus group research" if you will. I decided that I would perform stand up comedy in any room that would have me. Well so far the response has been overwhelming. 

We have plans in motion to film in a hospice group, college class, jail, preschool class,  veterans halls, basements living rooms, etc. I'm honestly scared to death, but excited at the same time. As John Lennon says "it feels like starting over" and that is part of the reason I'm doing it. 

I am in the process of developing a pilot about an aspiring comedian who is a little later in age, and after years of road work and shitty clubs he's found himself in a "shit or get off of the pot scenario" I wanted to highlight some of the rewarding and some of the painful truths about this wild journey of both instant gratification and rejection. All of these things are keeping me busy, which is good because this winter wasn't keeping anyone from rinsing their mouths out with a Hemingway cocktail.

Now for the hard part, are you ready? I'm going to need to raise some money for this project. these are not big rooms, and the people hosting these engagments cannot cover production costs. Grant it I have some close friends working for bare minimum, but they have to eat otherwise the camera shakes and well it's not pretty. So be on the lookout for a crowd funding campaign in the coming weeks. I honestly don't want to pitch this idea to a network because then you have to deal with gatekeepers and it's a whole different baby, so let's keep this independent! For us, by us!! I appreciate all of the help and hard work in advance and I am truly excited to take on this crazy endeavor! 

I love all of you,


PS If you would like me to come and do a small set at a room of your choosing email me at Thanks again!  

Monday, March 24, 2014

Stop this downtown train

I just turned 36 years old, and I guess all of that kicking and screaming against "adulthood" has finally been quenched. I am officially the "them". How and the hell did this happen? When did the music get dumb and the outfits outrageous? When did all of the causes become a bunch of noise? When did my glasses transfer from convenient to necessary? When did my hair begin its nomadic trek from my head to my ass (stopping to colonize my back along the way)? I didn't ever sign up to be old.

In the light of freinds and family who are suffering through some pretty overwhelming scenarios health wise, I can't help but think I could stand to be far more healthy than I am currently. Someone wise once said you don't value your health until you lose it. This is true for me, I suppose. If I added up all of the garbage I've eaten on the road, morning hangovers, coffee and a cigarette, couple Advil and sunglasses, in short... I haven't always treated my body "like a temple" as they say.

There's something romantic about smoking and writing jokes and telling jokes or performing sketches and then drinking a king's share of booze and carving out some euphoria in the nightime. Riding a meglomaniacal wave, a sense that you MADE them laugh, you didn't ask them to, you didn't try to convince them that they should, you fu*king MADE them! They had no choice! Whether it's thousands, hundreds, tens, doesn't matter.

You see this is the disillusionment of the dream. Comedia del Immortal! Punk ass young adults grabbing life by the short and curlies, and pushing the envelope. Raging against the machine!!! Waking up on stained futons in exposed brick rooms next to strangers. Lighting a cigarette and walking in a haze to the coffee shop smirking to yourself as you begin to piece together the night before. This illusion has a vast gravitational pull and so many get sucked in too far for too long and simply get stuck to this spinning orb of destruction and chaos. Sometimes you have to jump off of the train for a second and gain your bearings. Make sure the ride is going the direction you want to go.

I know this isn't making much sense, but I still feel young, that is until I eat a cheeseburger and wash it down with a twelve pack. My stomach has retired, I don't blame him, honestly, he was the John Belushi of stomachs. Now I sip my soda water, study my notes, try to be a grown up about the whole situation. I can't lie though sometimes I miss the younger days. I see the youngsters today and I think "soak it all in, man, this is the shit that's gonna get you through the next phase, the memories" Of course we always romanticize the past, don't we?

The years go by so fast.

With all of that said, for me 36 is when I take deep breaths and just soak it all in. When I take the headphones off and look up from my damn phone and try to be in these fleeting moments.

Outside another yellow moon
Punched a hole in the nighttime, yes
I climb through the window and down the street
Shining like a new dime
The downtown trains are full
With all those Brooklyn girls
They try so hard to break out of their little worlds

You wave your hand and they scatter like crows
They have nothing that will ever capture your heart
They're just thorns without the rose
Be careful of them in the dark
Oh if I was the one
You chose to be your only one
Oh baby can't you hear me now

Will I see you tonight
On a downtown train
Every night its just the same
You leave me lonely, now
I know your window and I know its late
I know your stairs and your doorway
I walk down your street and past your gate
I stand by the light at the four way
You watch them as they fall
They stay at the carnival
But they'll never win you back

Will I see you tonight
On a downtown train
Where every night its just the same
You leave me lonely
Will I see you tonight
On a downtown train
All of my dreams just fall like rain
All upon a downtown train
                                            -Tom Waits