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Friend a Day – Nick Glover

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I’ve known Nick for a long time but really only got to know him after he joined the vilification tennis cast and became my podcasting co-host on Geeks Without God.

Nick is a huge comic fan and over the last few years, he has introduced me to a ton of new comics.  As a fan, he finds titles for me that go beyond the standard stuff that everyone has read.  I appreciate the depth of his knowledge and his willingness to find me interesting new reading experiences.

We agree on a lot of topics but what always amazes me about Nick is his ability to boil his argument down to one or two insightful and cogent sentences.  I’ll spend fifteen sentences to say what he says better in only one.

He has a relaxed attitude about working on stage that makes it easy to ask him to do just about anything.  You never feel like something makes him uncomfortable.  His response is always yes, and I can add this extra thing that will make it an even funnier idea.

When I have a complicated scenery item that I need, Nick is regularly the person who conceives of how to solve the problem.  He made the elevator prop for an adaptation of The Shining I did this month and, as usual, he made it look better than I had expected and he did it for no cost.  He loves solving those sorts of problems, I think, and he solves them well.

Nick has a very impish sense of humor.  Usually, he keeps a straight face but every now and again, you can catch him being pleased with a joke he made.  You catch him having fun with himself and it is charming.

I really look forward to recording new episodes of Geeks Without God and a big reason is the fact I get to hang out with my co-hosts before we record.  Nick is a great guy and I’m very happy to have had the chance to work with him so often.

Friend a Day – Jade Cook

Photo by Joel Brueske

Photo by Joel Brueske

Jade tried out for Vilification Tennis about five years ago now and she has continued to impress me with her desire to find what really drives her artistically.

For the last year or so, she has become focused on becoming a stand-up.  I haven’t seen every performance but I’ve seen her working out her act at Fearless Lab almost every month.  She has improved every single time I’ve seen her.  It is obvious that it is something she wants to do and something she wants to do well.

One of her biggest strengths as a vilifier and as a comic is her expressiveness.  The picture I chose for her is a great example.  Her face conveys a great deal and it makes her writing funnier.

She has a very calm demeanor to her.  Nothing really seems to get her wound up.  She might be nervous before she goes on stage but she doesn’t let it show.  I think it helps the performers around you when at least one member of the cast looks like they are saying “OK – let’s do this.”

Jade is open to just about anything that needs to be done.  If there is something that needs to be done for a show and it doesn’t play to her strengths, she doesn’t care.  She’ll do it anyway.

I’m looking forward to her continued improvement as a stand-up.  She has a lot of talent and if that is the direction she wants to go with it, I have to believe she will be successful.

I’m glad that Jade tried out for Vilification tennis.  It’s been a pleasure to know her.

Friend a Day – Lauren Brabec

10010462_10152151281443087_20079799456135677_oI don’t know how old Lauren was when she started coming to Dregs shows.  I know she’s turning eighteen today and that freaks me out a little bit.

For along time, Lauren was just a kid who liked our music.  Then she decided to try out for Vilification Tennis and I got to know her much better.

Think about this: she did an onstage tryout for an insult comedy show at the age of fourteen.  And she won.  That takes a tremendous amount of guts and no small amount of talent.  She didn’t win because she was fourteen.  She won because she did the best job on the stage that night.

Since then, she has continued to be a contributor to our cast.  She doesn’t just contribute on stage.  She helps come up with show ideas as well.  I think it’s important that she’s become a part of our cast in every possible way.

She’s played the Chad/Lauren rocks more game with Chad for several years now and as an impartial observer, I have to say she has Chad beat.  She regularly comes up with really original and clever ways to tell Chad he rocks more and all Chad can do is shake his head in defeat.

When someone is in a cast with a whole bunch of strong personalities who constantly give her crap for being the kid, it can be a challenge.  That’s a tough position for anyone and weaker personalities would have given up.  She doesn’t strike me as a quitter and that is a quality that will benefit her a great deal as she moves to the next part of her life.

Lauren is only eighteen.  She has a lot more growing up to do but I’m impressed at how much growing up she has already done.

I’m glad that I’ve had the opportunity to watch Lauren grow into the young woman she is now.  Lauren really does rock more.

Friend a Day – Emily Cook

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Photo by Manna Jaeger

Sometimes you take a chance on someone and it pays off in a big way.

Emily tried out for Vilification tennis a few years ago and she got eliminated rather early.  There was something about her, though, that made me decide to bring her into the cast anyway.  She was a little raw but I saw a lot of potential.

Over the last few years, it has been good to say that my instinct was, in that situation, spot on.  Emily has grown as a performer and it is good to see her moving in the direction of writing more both with Fearless and with some other projects.

Emily recently decided she was an atheist after a long time struggling with questions about her faith.  I’m proud of her primarily because she chose to come out and talk about it publicly.  Being an atheist wasn’t half so important as being willing to stand up and admit something that could have been painful.

In working with her on Vermin, I think her writing style is really starting to develop and she is very good at taking advice from the other writers on the team.  That ability to swallow her ego to work as part of a group is essential to crafting the kind of show we are all working on together.

Socially, Emily is sassy and confident.  She really manages to capture and hold your attention, which may have been one of the reasons I was willing to take that chance on her.

It is a treat to watch her grow into a better performer as she takes each step.  She grows more confident in her abilities but she has never lost that desire to get good feedback on how to improve.  She has just the right mix of cockiness and humility.

I’m glad I decided to give Emily a shot because the results have been great.  She’s a terrific addition to our cast and to my life.

Friend a Day – Bob Alberti

297657_10150840972680545_1247294558_nPeople surprise me all the time.  Bob surprised me more than most.

When people try out for Vilification Tennis, they fall into three categories.  The first category is people I know will be good.  They may not be a good vilifier but they are good performers.  The second category is people about whom I have no innate feel.  They could be great, they could be lousy.  I just don’t know.  The third category is people who I know won’t do well.  I’m almost always right about the third category.

At least I was until Bob came along.

Bob is so laid back, I just didn’t think he’d have what it took to succeed as a vilifier.  I was wrong in all the best ways.

He’s a good writer, a good performer and he constantly surprises with his willingness to try new things.

I like Bob because he’s an idea guy.  He doesn’t sit around and wait for the next show.  He thinks about it and offers ideas.  And he doesn’t just suggest things other people should do.  He’s always willing to do those things himself.

He’s passionate about his politics and more than willing to argue with anyone about his opinions.  That inner passion, though, is what I missed in some of those early encounters with Bob.  It isn’t hidden but it is subtle.

When Bob says he’s going to do something, he will make it happen even if he doesn’t know how to do it.  When he said he’d get streaming to work for Die Laughing, he made it happen.

He takes pictures, runs an art gallery and still has time to be a big participant in Fearless Comedy.  Whenever a call goes out for performers, he’s one of the first to answer.  Whenever a call goes out for some help, he’ll be one of the first people there.

I was wrong about Bob as a performer and I’m so glad that I was.

Bob has a lot of creative stuff going on.  You can read about all of it on his website.

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!

Friend a Day – Laurie Richardson

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Photo by John Solberg

Laurie is one of those people who comes up with exciting crazy ideas and then actually makes those crazy ideas happen.  Several years ago, she decided that we should have trading cards for Vilification Tennis.  I said that was a great idea and if she could make it happen, I was completely behind it.

Well, she made it happen and it has been a crazy popular idea ever since.

She has a great impish smile that betrays a new idea.  She can’t wait to tell you about it and I can’t wait to hear it. I’ve learned to never say anything so foolish as “you’ll never figure out a way to do that” because the fact is she already has.

She’s been a performer with Vilification Tennis for several years and is always writing new material that is clever and unique.  I can hear a joke and know it is a Laurie joke.

One of the things Laurie is really passionate about is animals.  She’s worked for veterinary clinics and the Humane Society most of the time I’ve known her.  When someone lost a pet, she cried with them.  When someone abandoned some kittens behind a gas station on a cold winter night, she took the survivor into her home, nursed it until it was healthy enough to find a home, and then found it a good home (ours).

That’s just one animal she rescued.  There have been many others.

She understands the bond people form with their pets and shows amazing compassion for pet owners and their animals.

She’s also spent many hours renovating her home.  Her house has been transformed by hours of hard work.  It takes a lot of drive and determination to buy a house knowing that it will take years to turn it into the house you really want and to continually work towards that goal.

I like Laurie because she does things.  She is an idea person who makes the ideas happen.  It makes her a really fun person to be around.

Laurie doesn’t have a web site but right now, she is raising money for the annual Humane Society Walk for Animals.  It’s something she’s very passionate about.  So if you think she’s as cool as I do, you should go to her page and donate a few bucks.

Friend a Day – Eric Knight

Photo by Ryan Haro

Photo by Ryan Haro

Eric and I started at the Renaissance Festival in 1985 and we have been friends ever since.  This year both of us will celebrate our 30th season.  The years of service awards at the Festival are that much better because I get to share the walk with a good friend.

Eric is well known for being pedantic but that somewhat derogatory term points to how good he is at the little details of so many things.  He doesn’t miss much.

He’s been my assistant director for Vilification Tennis for the last several years and the reason is because he will tell me when he thinks I’m doing something wrong.  I don’t tend to take such conversations well but I usually come around to his way of thinking because he is usually right.

When I’m working on a new project or a new idea, Eric is one of the best resources for me because I understand the language he speaks.  His criticisms and comments are clear and honest and they help me become a better writer.

At the festival, he is a gifted up close performer.  His Concierge character is not a boisterous character that draws a crowd but instead, he is a character built around the idea of improving the festival day for everyone who walks through the gate. Every interaction he has with a patron is a positive interaction.

Conversations with Eric typically aren’t short.  We used to hold monthly Festival get together parties and Eric was frequently the last person to leave.  Often it would be as the sun was rising and he hadn’t yet overstayed his welcome.

Eric is also a gifted costumer, a movie fan, and one of the founders of the CONvergence movie room, Cinema Rex.

I’m lucky to have known Eric for almost thirty years.  I’m hoping we’ll be friends for at least thirty more!

Eric doesn’t have a web site but he sometimes tweets as @PedanticEric.

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!

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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