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Friend a Day – Salsa Sterling

Photo by Manna Jaeger

Photo by Manna Jaeger

I’ve known Salsa since the day he asked me if he could try out for Vilification Tennis.  He got up on stage that day and did…OK.  But he’s gotten a lot better since then.  In fact, I think he has improved with each passing year.

Salsa is always trying to get better.  He is very analytical by nature and that means he spends a good amount of time looking at what he is doing and trying to figure out how to do it better.  It also means he is very good at analyzing what others are doing well and doing poorly.

As part of Fearless, he is putting together some new shows and I really enjoy watching him work to expand what he is doing creatively.  He’s been doing that for a while now with the Fandazzi Fire Circus as well.  He’s got that bug to create new things and I think that’s great.

He’s grown more confident on stage in the last few years as well.  It has really made a big difference in his stage presence and in the audience’s response to his material.

He’s also completely willing to give something new a try.  When I decided I wanted to do a radio play at a Vilification Tennis show, he volunteered to do sound effects.  That turned into a regular gig with Big Fun Radio Funtime.

Why did he agree to do it?  It wasn’t because he had any experience.  It was because he wanted to try something new.  He’s been learning as he goes but it sure does seems like he’s enjoying the process.

Since I met him, Salsa has gone from a young guy trying to figure out how to be good at things to someone who is viewed as a leader and a mentor.   He has gotten there through hard work and careful thought.

It has been a pleasure to watch that process happen.

Salsa is a co-host of the Apropos of Nothing Podcast.  You should check it out!

Friend a Day – Eric Thompson

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Photo by John Solberg

I’ve only known Eric for a little over a year.  He tried out for the Vilification Tennis and won the amateur show in 2013 and he’s been another one that surprised me.

Eric appears to be pretty laid back and I didn’t know if that would work on stage.  With the material he writes, it works tremendously well.

Since he joined the cast, he has proven to be an asset because he has good ideas for more than just Vilification Tennis.  He brought the idea for Double Blind Improv to me and it was clearly a great fit for Fearless Comedy.  Then he went through the trouble of setting up everything for the show.

It’s great when someone comes to you with a good idea.  It’s even better when they are willing to do almost all of the work to make it happen.

He’s got a dry, patient wit.  He will sit back and wait for an opportunity to be funny, which makes him dangerous because the audience loses track of him.  Then he says something wickedly clever and they fall in love with him.

Eric has a lot of irons in the fire.  In addition to working with Vilification Tennis and Fearless, he is also doing a regular podcast and, apparently also has a job.  I guess I like him in part because I’m a little bit reminded of myself.

Another trait that impresses me is his willingness to do just about anything.  He’s a cast member I can count on to just stand up and make something happen.  When we needed someone to handle challenges for Die Laughing, he was the person who stepped up and coordinated.

It was a lot of work.  But Eric is someone who will put in a lot of time when he believes in something.

I’m glad that Eric tried out for Vilification Tennis.  He’s a great guy and I probably wouldn’t have met him any other way.

Check out the High Five Guys Podcast!

Friend a Day – Matt Allex

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In the old days, we didn’t have amateur shows to try out new performers.  I put them on stage at the festival and waited to see if they would succeed or fail.  Most of the time, it took more than one show to figure out how well they would do.

That’s how Matt Allex joined the vilification tennis cast and unlike many of his fellow performers, he was impressive the first time he set foot on stage and he’s been impressive almost every time since.

What amazes me is knowing that Matt is terrified of stepping on stage and he does it anyway.  The more an idea scares him, the more willing he seems to be.  His ability to rise above his own fear and consistently be one of the best people on stage is an inspiration.

Matt has a remarkable intellect that, I fear, goes unrecognized behind all the dick and fat mom jokes.  He is blunt with an opinion when the direct opinion is required.  He is unflinching in his ability to laugh at himself.

He’s also one of the most emotional people you will meet.  You want to find a guy who cries at the end of movies?  Matt is your guy.  Make fun of him all you want but how many people do you know who are that open with their emotions?

When I was in college, one of my professors talked to me about the “um” meter.  Simply put, if you are speaking in public, pay attention to how many times you say “um.”  Most people say it more than once a minute.

When Matt starts speaking, he hardly says “um” at all.  He can engage in stream of consciousness talking for minutes at a time and he will remain interesting the whole time.  It’s a skill that few people possess and because I always have the “um” meter running on myself, I always notice how frequently he beats me.

Matt will do whatever it takes to make something work.  If he only gives 99% to something, he will view his participation as a failure.

I’m glad Matt walked on to the Vilification Tennis stage that day so many years ago.  My life would be a great deal less interesting if he hadn’t.

Matt has a couple of podcasts you should follow.  He’s co-host of Apropos of Nothing and Horrorshow Hot Dog.  Check them out!

Geeks Without God Get Into a Mexican Standoff

Geeks Without GodThis weekend, we recorded two podcasts at Die Laughing.  On Friday night, we talked to local comedian Patrick Bauer about his favorite filmmaker, Quentin Tarantino.

I, of course, felt the need to discuss how Bill is completely wrong about Batman at the end of  Kill Bill, Vol 2.  Because if you are going to talk about the awesomeness of Tarantino, you need to spend a little while talking about his most egregious mistake.

We traverse the whole of his filmography, spending strangely small amounts of time on Django Unchained.  As one might expect, I enjoy a nerdy film conversation so this one was a treat to record.  It was also a treat to record in front of a live audience.  Thanks to everyone who came out!

 

 

Putting it Together – Die Laughing

I’m moving my Putting it Together blog to Sunday.  It used to be on Monday but I decided to switch things up.  If you are OCD, this is probably messing with you. Otherwise, you probably don’t care.

As I write this, we aren’t even halfway through Die Laughing.  I don’t know if we’ll manage to raise the funds we hope to raise with this insane idea.  I really hope we make it (looks like we will).  I’ll tell you one thing about this crazy show I already know – I want to do it again.

Running a theatre company is expensive.  And the more you want to do, the more expensive it gets.  I would love to tell you that everyone can raise all the funds they need from ticket sales but the truth is, there is hardly a company in existence that makes all of their money that way.  Fundraising is a reality that most companies will have to face.

So we have to raise money.  The idea, however, is to find ways to make the fundraising enjoyable.  Because nobody likes asking for money all the time.  And people get tired of being asked.

Making it enjoyable for the audience is obvious.  I’d like people to show up for some percentage of a fifty hour marathon.  I’d like to believe they will enjoy some of it.

But it also has to be enjoyable for the people putting on the event.  Any event that lasts fifty hours is a lot of work.  If you aren’t having any fun, you probably shouldn’t be doing it.

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Shit that Pissed me off – 4/4

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Idiot Climbs a Rock, Injures Himself and Sues the City for Creating Unsafe Conditions

This moron is probably going to win, too.

He saw a rock sculpture and thought it looked like a lot of fun to climb around on it.  I don’t blame him.  I would have thought the same thing.  I would need a taser and some bungee cords to stop my kids from climbing on something like that.

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Here’s a picture of one of my kids on a rock at Yosemite National Park. There are a lot of rocks at Yosemite National Park and he’s climbed on damn near every one of them.

There were no signs telling him he couldn’t so he jumped on the thing, landed awkwardly and tore his Achilles tendon.  Ouch!

Now he’s suing the city.  Because he did a reckless thing and hurt himself.  Also because he probably has crappy health insurance.

Look dude, if you are going to jump on a rock because it looks like fun, you need to recognize the risks.  If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t jump on the fucking rock.

The only unsafe condition the city created was they one they created when they allowed you to leave your house every morning.

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I Don’t Know If I Can Make Anyone Die Laughing But I May Just Die Trying!

This weekend, Fearless Comedy will be putting on Die Laughing, a fifty hour comedy marathon.  Right now, it looks like we might get hammered with a massive snow storm as the event starts but that doesn’t matter.  We’re going to make this show happen.

The good news is that the entire event will be streaming so you can watch it even if you decide to cower in your home.  And I’ll be doing a lot of performing that weekend.  Here’s a schedule if you are just going nuts wondering when I’ll be on stage again.

Friday, April 4th, 7:00 PM – Big Fun Radio Funtime

We’ll be doing encore presentations of two of our favorite scripts and then Geoffrey Brown and I will perform 30 minutes of original Citizens’ Band tunes!  We’ll also introduce our weekend long songwriting challenge.

Friday, April 4th – 10:00 PM – Vilification Tennis

There will be insults a-plenty and Duck Washington will debut as our newest cast member!  Also, Kelvin Hatle will present his brilliant “News from Lake Vilbegone.”

Friday, April 4th – 11:00 PM – Geeks Without God

We’ll be recording a live podcast featuring comedian Patrick Bauer.  The topic will be Tarantino movies.  Pop culture reference!

Saturday, April 5th – 4:00 PM – PowerPoint Karaoke

I’ll be sitting in judgement on comedians who are making up a presentation from scratch!  Is it far that I judge them?  Yes it is fair!  For I am ME and I SHALL wield petty power!

Saturday, April 5th – 8:00 PM – 12:00 AM – Hosting

I won’t be the star of the show but I’ll be introducing them!

Sunday, April 6th – 1:00 AM - Geeks Without God

Our second live podcast will feature Elizabeth Ess!  We are going to talk about Hobby Lobby and birth control.  Should be totally filled with comedy about knitting.  There is also a decent chance I’ll be bald at this point.

Sunday, April 6th – 2:00 PM – Judging a Book By It’s Cover

I’ll be hosting this silly game in which contestants must describe the plot of a book based only on the cover illustration.

Sunday, April 6th – 6:00 PM – The Dregs

The Dregs will be doing our music and comedy thing with a special challenge to help raise money.  Song choices go to the highest bidder!

Sunday, April 6th – 8:00 PM – Fearless Lab

A completely random hour of Fearless Comedy!  And I’m the host!  If Geoffrey and I get paid to write any songs, we’ll be performing them during this final hour of the marathon!  It’ll be awesome!  I’m using all exclamation points because I’ll probably be hopped up on Five Hour Energy Drink at this point in the weekend!

Jumping off a Cliff – Part 1

Over the last few months, I’ve made some vague posts on Facebook about a big life change.  I hate vaguebooking as a rule because you should either say enough for people to know what you are talking about or you should keep your mouth shut.

Anything else always seems like little more than fishing for attention.

I needed to keep my posts vague, though, because until I was ready to be completely public, I didn’t feel like I could say what was going on.  I was happy to discuss what was going on in private.  Just not on Facebook.

Well now the deed is done, I want to talk about it to anyone who will listen because I’m excited.  And scared.  And a whole lot of other things.

On January 2nd, I put in notice at my job.  I didn’t have another job lined up.  Right now, I don’t plan on looking for another job.  I just realized that it was time to make a dramatic shift in what I wanted to do with my life.

So what happened?  Why did I make the decision?  What kind of shift am I talking about?

First, there were some changes in my job that were particularly difficult.  I was told I could no longer use work time to answer and send personal e-mails.  This had been permitted up until a few months ago and with all of the shows and other work I do outside of the standard work week, the use of personal e-mail was very important to me.

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My CONvergence Schedule

Boy do I have a lot going on at the convention this weekend.  While I have no idea why anyone would be interested in tracking me around the con, just in case you have an interest in stalking (or avoiding) me, here’s what I’ll be up to at the convention.

Thursday, July 4th

6:00 PM – The Mark Time Radio Show.  I’ve been a voice actor on this show for um…about ten years?  This year’s show is an expanded version of “The Sword in the Couch,” which was featured at the first Big Fun Radio Funtime show.

7:00 PM – Opening Ceremonies.  I wrote and directed the Opening sketch and I’m pretty happy with it.  All I can say about the sketch is that it is going to be awesome. It s also filled to overflowing with amazing talent.  I also contributed a little bit of writing to the rest of Opening Ceremonies and rumor has it I might be helping out with at least one bit.

9:00 PM – Super Spy Smackdown.  I will be the Master of Ceremonies for an epic battle between the greatest super spies ever assembled.  Comedy commentary will be provided by a team of experts including Tim Uren, Joseph Scrimshaw, Dawn Krosnowski, Kelvin Hatle, Caroline Symcox and Christopher Jones.  As always, Melissa Kaercher will be running the tech.

11:00 PM – Vilification Tennis takes over the Fearless Comedy Room Party in room 224!

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Big Fun Radio Writers Wanted

About a week ago, I debuted my newest comedy show, Big Fun Radio Funtime. The idea behind the show is to have a quarterly show that features work by several different writers.  That’s where this post comes in.

I know a good number of writers in the cities and I’ve contacted some of them.  Mostly the ones I was pretty sure would enjoy writing something in this particular comedy sandbox.  Actually, to be honest, they were the people who I could think of off the top of my head shortly after I had the idea for the show.

I missed a whole bunch of other people.  Some pretty obvious.  Some not so obvious.  Maybe you were one of those folks.

So if anyone out there is waiting for an invitation, here it is.  Do you want to write for the show?  Tell me so.  I need four original 10-12 minute scripts per show so I’m going to run out of people on my first contact list in a hurry.

You don’t have to be local, either.  I can direct the script and I’ll make sure you get an audio copy of the show so you can impress all of your friends.

Drop me a line.  Comment on this blog entry or on Facebook.  Send me an e-mail at bigfunradio@fearlesscomedyproductions.com.

I’d love to feature your script at one of these shows.  I just didn’t know you wanted to write one!

And on a separate but equally important note – I want to feature solo songwriters and voice actors at each show as well.  Do you do one of those things?  If so, you could be doing it for me!

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