I Know What I’m Doing This Weekend
First off, we made our pre-event goal for Die Laughing and that is amazing! The board offered a $500 matching grant prior to the opening of Die Laughing and we have already raised $500. That means we’ve actually raised $1000. Which is amazing.
This blog entry is about my weekend schedule. I’m not just the Artistic Director of Fearless Comedy Productions, I’m also a performer. I’ll be performing a lot this weekend so here, in tiring detail, is what I’ll be doing.
Friday, March 6th
7:00 PM – We kick off the marathon with Fearless Lab. I’m going to be judging a Vilification Tennis match featuring the last four winners of our amateur show – Nick Glover, Molly Glover, Eric Thompson and Duck Washington. There will also be stand-up comedy, short form improv and a variety of other stuff. We also kick off the marathon with a $250 matching grant so help us get started right!
Saturday, March 7th
Midnight – PowerPoint Karaoke. I’m one of the presenters in my favorite improv game of all time. Presenters are given a series of slides that make no sense and must make up a presentation based on the slides. Also presenting will be Windy Bowlsby and Dawn Krosnowski. It should be amazing. Also, we have a $250 matching grant from CONvergence during that hour!
Friend a Day – Jeff Larson
Fringe week continues!
I’m reticent to write a blog post about Jeff because as executive director of the Fringe, he needs to be neutral when it comes to the artists producing work. I totally get that.
But I really like the guy so I’m going to write about him anyway.
One of the things I like about Jeff (and the rest of the Fringe staff) is the hard they work to ensure bias is taken out of the system. Many of them produce shows themselves. All of them have friends who produce shows. Yet the Minnesota Fringe is about as unbiased as they come.
When he was on Geeks Without God a few weeks ago, we carefully avoided talking about my shows so it wouldn’t seem like he was endorsing my work.
Jeff just took over the position of Executive Director this year and he always talks about how stressed he gets when he has to get up on stage and introduce things.
The dirty secret? He’s really very good at it. He’s charming and funny. He makes up stuff on the fly. He gets all the important information out in small, easy to digest bites.
I can tell that the social aspect of the job can be a little trying for him at times. He came from tech theater and most techies have some social anxiety. I think that’s why they all have jobs where they talk to each other on headsets in the dark.
But if there is a little social anxiety, he manages it well. He knows that his job is to interact with the audience, artists, and press.
His job is to make things easier for dozens of producers every year and I can’t even imagine how difficult that is given most of us are flaky divas who are incapable of following clearly written instructions.
Jeff has also given me a ride in his Porsche and it was pretty sweet.
So thanks, Jeff, for taking on a tough job and doing it with grace and style.
Also, I expect no special treatment for writing this post.
Although another ride in the car would be OK…
Friend a Day – Stephanie Zvan
CONvergence week continues here at Friend a day headquarters!
I met Stephanie when we were in the same play in college. I was nearly killed by a piece of scenery on opening night. That’s a different story.
After that show, I hardly saw her for years. It was only through the Skepchick/FreethoughtBlog events at CONvergence that we re-connected.
Stephanie is devoted to supporting social justice issues through her Almost Diamonds blog. She has become a target for a lot of internet hatred because she’s not willing to back away from an important fight. She’s openly critical of well known members of the atheist community like Richard Dawkins.
I can’t imagine how exhausting the abuse can become and yet Stephanie faces it with a sense of humor and, I think, the conviction that she is right.
When there is an issue that has me upset, I find that Stephanie frequently is commenting on exactly the thing that has me frustrated. Her thoughts are well researched and detailed. Certainly you can disagree with her but you can’t disagree with the effort she put into presenting a cogent argument.
She was a guest on Geeks Without God our first weekend and was one of the people who helped set the tone. We’ve had her back since to play the horrible Left Behind Board game. You have to have a little extra helping of respect for anyone who endured that game.
I remember working with Stephanie on that show all those years ago and even back then she had a ton of confidence you knew would get her through a lot. It is that strong sense of self that helps her keep saying things that make her a target for a lot of petty stupidity.
And that is something I don’t think the petty, stupid people have figured out. Being an asshole on the internet is easy. Fighting against the assholes is a lot harder.
I’m really proud to know someone who is fighting the assholes.
Friend a Day – Brianne Bilyeu
I’ve only called Brianne a friend for a couple of years now. We knew each other but it was only once I started co-hosting Geeks Without God that I began to grow more familiar with some of the prominent secular voices in my part of the country.
Because it impresses me, I’d like to tell you what Brianne does on weekends.
She goes to women’s health clinics and escorts patients past the protesters who are standing out front.
She walks women (and men) past crowds of people who are there to call them names.
I don’t care what side of the abortion debate you are on – what Brianne does is amazing. She stands up and defends those who have made a decision that is, to some, extremely unpopular. She shows them that there are people out there willing to sacrifice time so they might have some dignity at a very difficult time.
There are lot of other things I like about Brianne, but what she does so many weekend mornings is, to me, heroic.
Brianne blogs as Biodork on the Freethought Blog network. She blogs about social issues and atheism but she also does a lot of photoblogging. It makes her blog one of my favorites on the site. She has a voice that is one of my favorites and I always look forward to a new post.
As the result of appearing on Geeks Without God, Brianne is also responsible for introducing me to Lords of Waterdeep, which is only a problem because all I want to do is play *more* Lords of Waterdeep.
She’s one of my favorite sources for new games. Whenever we are at Omegacon together, she makes me play at least one new game that inevitably results in dropping several dollars at the Source one or two weeks later.
Finally, while I could say this about most of my friends, Brianne has one of the best smiles around. It is a smile that will brighten anyone’s day and it is a smile that she hardly ever puts away.
Brianne is a great friend and a great person. I’m glad that choosing to use my voice helped me to get to know hers.
Friend a Day – Nick Glover
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.
Geeks Without God Talk about CONvergence
This year’s pre-CONvergence episode is a bit earlier than planned because of our 100th episode church extravaganza coming up in a couple weeks. Still, CONvergence represents our podcast’s second birthday and we can’t help but be a little bit excited to celebrate that blessed event once again.
Maybe I shouldn’t have used the word blessed.
The three of us spend this week’s episode talking about the panels we’re a part of and some of the other things about the con that have us excited.
We did three CONvergence episodes last year because we all really love the con. This year, we are holding ourselves to one. I hope you listen and enjoy!
Friend a Day – Molly Glover
I’ve known Molly for just a few years and she’s already become one of my better friends. Sure, it helps we record a podcast together, perform together, and hang out with the same people.
Molly is one of the most open people I know. She doesn’t edit anything out of a conversation because it might make someone uncomfortable. I tend to be something of the opposite so I can’t help but appreciate the way she keeps everything on the surface.
She’s one of those people who is just naturally good at whatever she does. She’s a good performer, she’s a good writer, she’s a good improviser, she’s a good thinker. When I need to go to someone who I know can make something good happen, Molly is easily at the top of the list.
There is a meticulous nature to Molly that I wish I could copy. She keeps track of her life in a way that is amazing, especially given the packed calendar she has to manage. She always seems to know when there is a conflict.
That meticulous nature also explains her passion for proofreading. She gives me grief for typos, misspellings, and bad grammar because it is important to her. I accept it because I know she is giving me grief so I can do a better job.
When Molly tried out for Vilification Tennis, I was her coach. I already knew she was going to be a strong candidate but as I worked as her coach, I was impressed with how focused she was on doing well. Thing is, she could have done exceptionally well without the tremendous effort.
She doesn’t want to do “good enough,” though. She wants to do as well as she possibly can. She will always put in the greatest amount of effort possible to make sure a thing is done right.
I think Molly is naturally funny. She doesn’t have to try to be funny, she simply succeeds at being funny. If she actually tries to be funny, she is even better.
Molly is a great person who brings a lot of laughter to my life. I’m fortunate that she has become such a good friend.
Molly is involved in a lot of things. She is one of my co-hosts on Geeks Without God.
Geeks Without God Talks Games
Andrew Hackard is Molly’s cousin. He lives in Austin and sent in his five answers to our podcast many months ago. He visits town on business every now and again and we’ve tried to have him as a guest a few times.
This trip, we finally managed to get him down to the basement studios for a podcast.
Hack (as he is known to his friends and I’m now calling myself a friend) works for Steve Jackson Games as their Munchkin Czar so naturally we didn’t talk about Munckin.
Rather, we talked about other games including slew of new games I played at Omega Spring. I love talking about games almost as much as I love playing games. Maybe more because when I talk about games, I’m not losing.
Hack also got to ask us five questions this week and that is always a lot of fun.
If you’d like to listen: here’s where to go!
Geeks Without God Talk About Atheism and Comedy
When we were off at Die Laughing, we snuck back to my hotel room for an hour to record an episode of Geeks Without God with Ben San Del.
Ben did a stand up show at the Minnesota Fringe a couple years ago and he spent a fair amount of time in that show talking about his atheism. I found it interesting that a comedian was so up front about that particularly divisive issue and have been wanting to get him on our podcast for a while.
The stars finally aligned and we had a great conversation with Ben about how he tailors his show depending on where he is performing and when he uses the soft touch to introduce skepticism into his comedy.
It was a long time coming, but I think the episode was worth the wait.
Geeks Without God Gets Cosmic
Last week Molly, Nick and I sat down to record an episode about “Cosmos” old and new. I’m almost sorry we didn’t wait another week because there was a lot to talk about in the most recent episode.
That was probably a risk we took by recording before the series concluded. I’ve been impressed with the way Tyson injects skepticism into every episode. He talks about how science finds answers rather than assuming that conventional wisdom is correct.
Like the classic “Cosmos,” which I also re-watched for this episode, the host is in love with science. I’m sure that some would say science is their religion but that isn’t it. They love the laws of the natural world and they love how each new discovery leads to something new. Tyson is a natural successor to Sagan.
So yeah, this episode is kind of a love fest for “Cosmos.” But what can I say? “Cosmos” deserves it!
I you love the show (or hate it), listen in!