Tuesday, January 8, 2013

2013 Chicago Sketchfest - First Week OVAH

Happy New Year, folks!

The beginning of the year means one thing and one thing only to the Chicago comedy scene and that’s Chicago Sketchfest, which is going on right now at Stage773 on Belmont. If you’ve been wondering what I’ve been doing with myself for the past month and a half, well, that. I might have overdone it a little bit this year; I’ve been involved with three shows, two of which were last weekend. If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you probably hate me for all of the plugging.

On a completely unrelated note, plug plug, my final sketchfest show is Friday night 1/11 at 11:00 pm. We’re called Crassus and we will take your socks from you and then rock them and then return your rocked off socks to you, freshly rocked.

Anyway, the nice thing about being at the theater all the time is that I’ve been able to catch more shows than normal. None of the following is going to help you out in the short term since these shows happened already, but I thought I'd pick a show for each night that was worth seeing.  Keep a look out for these people.  If you see their upcoming shows advertised anywhere, pay attention.  They're great.

Thursday Night:
I didn't get to see anything due to my own rehearsal. I’ll bet Paul Thomas: Comedogenic was great though, since he’s a very funny dude. Check his stuff out here.

Friday Night:
Uncalled For – One of my favorite things to do at Sketchfest is just to walk into a theatre without any knowledge of who’s performing and to see what happens. Sometimes you get lucky, as was the case with Uncalled For. This three-man show from Montreal - the group apparently consists of six but only three could make the trek down from the wild northlands of Canada – was incredibly well written, very smart and very funny. They had one particular admirable bit that was so incredibly simple and so great: a hypnotherapist managed to hypnotize his patient to where a clap induced unconsciousness. Unfortunately, he had accidentally done the same to himself. When the audience clapped at the end of the scene, the two characters would go in and out of consciousness.  It was the kind of bit that makes an already jealous comedian even more jealous.

Saturday Night:
*Honorary Degree* - another group I knew nothing about but who have apparently been around for a while years, so shows what I know. Their experience came through in some memorable sketches about the comedy scene itself. I particularly liked their ‘mad-libs stand-up’ sketch, which skewered the more iconic styles and subject matter of the stand-up world. Their willingness to be self-deprecating made for a fun and loose performance. I’d plug a website for them, but I can’t seem to find them so, like, look for them on Facebook or something.

Sunday Night:
Matt Griffo – I know Matt from doing showcases with him. He’s a phenomenally talented musician and a great writer, and normally puts on a good show with nothing more than a piano. I will say, though, that the addition of a backup band really made his songs pop. I particularly loved the cello, which really added gravity to the music and put the ridiculousness of the lyrics into even starker contrast with the beauty of his compositions. The banter with both the band and the audience fit suitably with the more intimate cabaret space. All in all, it doubled as a great comedy show and a great concert.

Sketchfest starts back up again on Thursday night.  For a full festival schedule, visit their website: chicagosketchfest.com

Monday, November 26, 2012

December 2012 Shows and Sketchfest

Sorry I've been so absent lately, swooping in only long enough to attempt the occasional sports curse and then running off to parts unknown.  I've been too busy preparing for the end of the world the best way I know how: by booking a bunch of shows.

Speaking of, what are you people up to?  Wanna come watch me do some shows?

11/30 Crassus at the Bughouse Theater

10 PM at 2056 W Irving Park (2 blocks west of Irving Park Brown Line)
$10 at the door
Geoff and I are brushing up on some stuff this Friday and, depending on time and stuff, might even try out a couple of new things!  Never worked with these guys before but we hear great things!  Come check it out!

12/6 Crassus at Back Room Comedy
The Atlantic Bar and Grill
8:30 PM at 5062 N Lincoln Ave
Another group we've never worked with, but the Atlantic is well known as a place where comedy shenanigans go down.  Come hang out in Lincoln Square with us while we make fun of the largely German ethnic community!

Zombie Genius
8PM, Saturdays at the Annoyance, December 8th – January 26th
4830 N Broadway, Chicago
$15 at the door or through annoyanceproductions.com
We've been working this show for a good couple of months now.  The first few performances were in August, then we did a short run in October, and now the Annoyance has asked us back again.  I wrote the music and perform in this Zombie love story.

1/4 Creepy Hug at Chicago Sketchfest
Stage 773
8 PM at 1225 W Belmont in the Pro theater
For tickets, call 773-327-5252 or stage773.com
Working on this with a couple of friends of mine.  The show is going to be all music sketches, so I'll be getting in my guitar reps.

1/5 Robot vs Dinosaur at Chicago Sketchfest
Stage 773
7 PM at 1225 W Belmont in the Thrust theater
For tickets, call 773-327-5252 or stage773.com
Reprising our summer hit Wait Wait... Don't Kill Me.  I hope you all like puns!

1/11 Crassus at Chicago Sketchfest
Stage 773
11 PM at 1225 W Belmont in the Thrust theater
For tickets, call 773-327-5252 or stage773.com
Geoff and I go legit so hard for our first Chicago Sketchfest.

Provided I make it through all of this, I plan on collapsing the rest of January.

Friday, October 26, 2012


Look!  Look how beautiful that park is!  I'll bet whoever plays there sure is good at baseball!

Look at this sweatheart!  I hope he hits just a ton of home runs!  What a cutie patutie!

They call them Giants because of their large stature in the world of baseball!

They should totally win the World Series!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

New Comedy Jobs Within 50 Miles of Chicago

This is the 7th entry I found when searching 'Comedy Jobs' on Google Images.  Exercises in literalism.

Somehow I evidently signed myself up for an email list that is supposed to send me “comedy job” listings.

I don’t know how this happened, since I don’t recall ever even seeing an opportunity to sign up for anything along those lines. I would remember such an opportunity, since I like comedy jobs and would like to have one, but I’m pretty sure that never came up. Yet, lo and behold, every Thursday a new email entitled “Today’s new Comedy jobs within 50 miles of Chicago” descends from the Interweb ether and lands like mana in my inbox.

The first time I saw this little message sitting among the ‘Facebook Notifications,’ the “Somebody Twittered Somethings” and the ‘Your Daily Groupon/Amazon/LivingSocial’ schlock that represents the majority of all incoming electronic correspondence, I didn’t quite know what to think. Being a comedy writer and performer in Chicago, I was pretty sure that this was a ruse; there are no comedy “jobs” within 50 miles of Chicago. Sure there’s ample opportunity to go ply one’s trade for free or for minimal money if you’re willing to do that yourself. Jobs, though?

And yet, I knew that Google Analytics and Internet Market/Spying had come a long way in the past few years. Was it possible that the Interwebs had not only learned to read my passions and desires over my shoulders, but also found a way to locate previously unknown sources of income? And then developed the benevolence to piece together a weekly email just for me highlighting the many possible paths to comedy success and fulfillment?!

“Come with me,” said the Internet, extending a welcoming and helpful hand down to me. “Let me pull you from the abyss and lift you up into the light of your future!”

“Really?” I asked in disbelief, bogged down in the day-to-day existential quagmire of my office job. “You would just do that without any prompting? You, who up until now has only been good for funny cat pictures, irrational political snark and free pornography? Are you now some sort of magnanimous electronic genie machine?”

“Shhhhhhh.” The Internet placed a digit on my lips to quiet me. “No questions now. Come with me.”

And so, with the excitement of a child on Christmas morning crammed into however long it takes to click and open an email, I tore open the electronic envelope and gazed at the wonderment of the very first Comedy job listing:

Pediatric Oncology Registered Nurse

Wait what?

Perhaps a stray posting had accidentally wandered into my All-Comedy Jobs email. I took a look at the next couple of listings.

Neonatal ICU Registered Nurse

Cardiac Cath Lab Registered Nurse

Telemetry Registered Nurse

Am I mistaken?  Is there a massive amount of Comedian Nurses running around hospitals dispensing witticisms, performing pratfalls and reading charts aloud while doing funny impressions, all for the general health of – neonatal so that’s what? – prematurely born children?

Is there anything other than ‘RN?’

Restaurant Server

Ah yes, the ‘RS.’ Well, that’s a little closer to what you would expect for a comedian. Still not a comedy job.


Steward – Dishwasher

Physician Bread and Butter General Surgery
At last! A physician who performs surgery on inanimate food stuffs! I’ve found my calling!

But alas, it turns out I’m woefully under qualified for “Bread and Butter General Surgery.” Evidently you still need an MD, or at least a background in baking.

Disappointedly I clicked back to my inbox. Then I did what I usually do when I’m disappointed on the Internet: I found a YouTube clip of someone getting hit in the nuts by a dog. And in that moment, I felt just slightly better.

So now, whenever I see my weekly “Today’s new Comedy jobs within 50 miles of Chicago” email, I do what I normally do with the e-phemera that floats through my inbox. Sometimes I’ll open it to remind myself of the cruelness of life and the general stupidity of the Internet, but usually I just toss it.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Bachmann Level: Green!

Green is for 'Go Crazy!'

We haven't had much use for the Bachmann levels around here since she dropped out of the race to represent Republicans in the gong show that is Presidential Election Time.  Actually, we haven't had much use for blogging since the end of June either, but whatever.  You don't come here for consistency.  You come here for poorly MS Painted photos of Michelle Bachmann wearing green Groucho glasses.  Speaking of:

Madame Bachmann is convinced that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the American Government.  Her proof?  One of the people who works there is Egyptian-American.


One might take the time to refute said claims, however the power of a blogger to do so pales in comparison to that of John McCain, who increasingly looks to be the only same person left in all of Congress.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Stop Threatening to Move to Canada

I feel bad for Canada.

Less Loon, More Lunatic (source)
Not too bad, mind you. I mean, poutine is delicious and they do have a sensible drinking age there. But bad in the sense that every time a political group in this country doesn’t get their way they threaten to move to Canada.

I don’t know where this threat originated. I know Canada took draft dodgers during Vietnam, and before that accepted escaped slaves during the age of underground railroading. Maybe the threat comes from there. Regardless of origin, though, it’s a common refrain for spoiled, pig headed political brats on both sides of the political spectrum. Pig head Democrats threatened to move during the (admittedly disastrous) Dubya years. Republicans threatened it during the (admittedly embarrassing) Clinton years. Hell, I remember being what? Must have been six to ten years old sitting in a crappy Mexican restaurant with a friend and his incredibly Liberal mother – I knew she was notoriously Liberal before I even had a working comprehension of political differences at all – listening to her threaten to move to the Great White during Bush Sr.’s term. Can’t even remember why. Doesn’t matter. Her team was losing on something or other.

Of course, the latest incarnation, spawned by the Supreme Court’s ruling that Obama’s Health Care Plan is not unconstitutional, has a special level of irony. This considering Canada’s penchant for socialized medical care. But whatever. Spoiled, pig headed people aren’t going to let things like facts get in the way of a good threat. That in turn won’t stop people from pointing out the hypocrisy of it all.

Hey, if you’re the kind of person who throws a fit every time something happens that you don’t like, please by all means leave the country. The ability to compromise and to deal with shit when people with opposing viewpoints get something they want and to somehow coexist is kind of important for a proper Democratic Republic. One might argue that you, hypothetical expatriate, are why things are so jacked up around here – cynical assholes appeal to your assholeness, which causes you to vote for them, perpetrating continued assholism.

I would prefer the country be made up of people who want to stay and work to make things better for everyone, rather than people who want to complain because Red Team of the Blue Team didn’t win. This isn’t a team sport, people. We’re not soccer hooligans. We’re supposed to be an enlightened citizenry that stays informed and chooses the best available leadership, not chooses people based on who we want to lose the most. And if something doesn’t go our way then we’re supposed to compromise, not take to the internet and register our supreme discontent with… okay well, I’m kind of doing that right now.

But poor Canada, should they agree to let these whiny people move in. Because they will pack up all of their belongings, along with all their bullshit and irrational anger and intractability and penchant for complaining, and they will bring all of it with them. And it will be the same thing over again, only slightly colder. If I were Canada, I’d start putting up the wall right now.

Maybe if you’re lucky, Canada, those people will threaten to move to Greenland.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Meditations on My Thirtieth Birthday

I have been told various things by various different people: that the 30th birthday is a tough one; that the 31st is actually worse; that the 30’s are better than the 20’s; or that it’s the other way around; or that the 40’s are better then all of them; or far worse; or whatever.

No matter what I make of it, the fact of the matter is it’s here. I’m 30 years old. There’s no getting around it.

I think I’m supposed to have a nervous breakdown or a ‘my God what have I done with my life’ moment, but I think I may have already done that November of last year and that I came out the other end of it not really giving a damn, so I think I’m good there.

So, the imminent collapse of my self-worth temporarily postponed as it is, I thought I would share with you, my blog viewership of three, the wisdom of my three decades of existence. We’ll see how that compares with what wisdom is left after my fourth decade – provided blogs still exist and that we’re all still inclined to pontificate.

The most important life skill you can have is not the ability to get what you wants, nor is it the ability to make a plan and stick to it, nor is it the ability to talk your way out of anything, convince people of anything or to win arguments at all cost, nor is it the ability to think constructively or empathetically. Nor is it the ability to drive a stick shift. Some of those are generally useful. Some are even necessary. However, in my humble opinion, the supreme life skill that everyone needs to develop is the ability to deal with shit.

This might sound depressing, but it’s not.

You know what? Sometimes you get stuck in an elevator. Sometimes you work your ass off for a promotion or a new job or a part in a show that goes to someone else. Sometimes you date someone and things don’t go so well. Sometimes you do a show that nobody comes to. Sometimes your bus is running late and is crowded. Sometimes you forget to take the trash out and your apartment smells like trash when you come home. Sometimes you’re sick and there’s nobody to take care of you. Sometimes you have to sleep on a friend’s couch. Sometimes you forget your umbrella and rain coat and then it pours rain and then you’re soaked for the rest of the day. Sometimes your significant other’s family hates your guts. Sometimes the merchandise you ordered wasn’t shipped, or is damaged. Sometimes your burger has mayo on it when you specified no mayo. Sometimes you piss off your best friends, or they piss you off. Sometimes you let your family down. Sometimes your phone is out of battery. Sometimes your car won’t start. Sometimes you are broke. Sometimes you lose your job. Sometimes you have a job that you hate. Sometimes people disappoint you. Sometimes you are a disappointment to someone else. Sometimes your apartment building goes Condo and you have to find somewhere else to live. Sometimes your plane is stuck on the tarmac for hours and nobody will tell you why and then you miss your connecting flight and are stranded in St. Louis with a bag full of wine soaked clothes because a bottle of Chianti broke somewhere in Newark.

You could get pissed and go shout at someone, you could break down and cry or you could ask why, or why me? For the most part, though, I’ve found such things to be useless. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not above such reactions. In fact, I love to get pissed about certain things. But now, instead of getting wrapped up in the injustice of it all, I think to myself, ‘You know what? Shit.’ And then I deal with it, or I forget about it and I focus on trying to do the things I love to do (like eating bacon).

It seems like I know so many people who let the littlest things ruin their day, or who match their lives up to the expectations they had for themselves and let that paralyze them. Don’t worry if you don’t have that house yet or that retirement fund set up. If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that not even those mainstays of respectability and stability are guaranteed to be around for you. It’s the ability to handle adversity with grace that will see you through, and the ability to manage disappointment and to adapt.

Live your life and try to enjoy it. I’ll make that the focus of my thirties. We’ll see what forty brings when I get there.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Fake Amazon Review: Leadership Lessons of the U.S. Navy SEALS

Disclaimer: this is fake.  I wrote it for fun.  Love, Nat.


"By BizNazFrank
"Format: Hardcover

“I just bought this book about management and it’s great. It’s called ‘Leadership Lessons of the U.S. Navy SEALS: Battle-Tested Strategies for Creating Successful Organizations and Inspiring Extraordinary Results.’ You know it’s a good book because the title is so freaking long. The title is practically a book by itself, so you’re reading a book before you even read the book – that’s two books in one and that, my friend, is what we call in the Business world ‘value-added value.’ I think.

“Anyway, I’m going to give a quick review of it for everyone. I should probably start by saying I haven’t read the actual book – I’m a busy business man who does a lot of business – but I have read the title, and here are some of the lessons I learned just from reading the title:

“1. Navy SEALS are sweet and they get shit done in a proactive, value-added ass-kicking way.
“2. To succeed as a manager, I need a highly-motivated crack core of employees who are insanely well-trained, preferably somewhere in San Diego by a bunch of military types.
“3. All employees should carry assault rifles to increase productivity and preparedness, as well as to facilitate conflict resolution and team building.
“4. Employees are most effective when they are able to work at all hours of the day; therefore they should all have night vision goggles.
“5. Helicopters.
“6. We should have trust falls maybe from time to time.

“And that’s just the stuff I gleaned from the cover and title and stuff. I’ll let you all know if anything new pops up once I’ve read the book, which I probably won’t have time to do because I’m a busy business person. But, uh, 5 stars. Go Amazon!

“Frank Jefferson, CEO
“F. Jefferson Financial Consulting and Business Applications Business, LLC”

Monday, June 4, 2012

Farewell to Tro-Lo-Lo Guy

Very important news as far as Internet issues are concerned: Eduard Khil has passed away. Those of you who, like me, have spent an inordinate amount of time trapped in the big silky webs of online existence may recognize him as the Tro-lo-lo Guy. Behold, for posterity:

The title of this piece, despite containing no actual words whatsoever, is “I Am So Happy to Finally Be Back Home.” Strangely, and based only on a series of nonsense words and Khil’s whack-a-doo delivery, I can kind of see that.

I first became aware of Tro-lo-lo guy a little over two years ago and it made me very very happy. Strangely happy. I’m not even completely certain why it made me so happy, but it did. The animated .gif and various other incarnations went on to circle the virtual globe, riddling chat rooms and message boards. In fact, there was a time where every Troll had a Tro-lo-lo reply. Just think: twenty years ago that last sentence would make absolutely no sense whatsoever.

For me, Tro-lo-lo will always stand as a testament to the power of the Internet to take something completely obscure (say, Soviet entertainment from 50 years ago) and turn it into an enduring and hilarious piece of modern society. Plus, man, the song just gets stuck in my head sometimes.

So pour some out for Eduard Khil today and may he rest in peace.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Ow My Balls

Guys.  This is this.  This:

is This:

This is this.

One of these is 'fiction' meant to satirize entertainment in a world that is increasingly dumbed down.  The other is basically the same thing except for the 'fiction meant to satirize' part.

They're the same thing and it's frightening.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Well, Geoff and I have spent the last couple of years scurrying around from place to place doing 15-20 minute versions of our thang, and now it’s time we set down roots, had some people over, and did a full 45 minutes of comedy. To wit, tonight we open:

The Pub Theater, above Fizz Bar
3220 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago

Weds 5/9 – 5/30, 6/13 – 6/20

10 PM

Tickets: $10, available at the door or online.

As Professional Comedians, we’ve worked up a pretty decent sized collection of sketches over the course of the last couple of years. So as a result the running order of the show will change from week to week. That means we’ll constantly be swapping in and out different sketches, adding new stuff we’ve just written and never tried before, and just generally running a fluid and crazy show. Every performance will be different, culminating in the final show where I actually won’t even be present. Geoff will do the last show by himself.

It’s going to be an extravaganza of comedy goodness. AND, we’ll have friends opening for us. Here’s the schedule for that:

5/9 Pat Raynor
5/15 Jack & the Wolf
5/23 Lindsay Williams
5/30 Jack & the Wolf
6/13 Claudia Martinez
6/20 Stuart Scotten

So come early, come often, and come have some fun with us.