Thursday, July 29, 2010

Robot vs. Dinosaur presents Vikings vs. Sea Serpents - TONIGHT!

A mashup between Roger Corman's "Viking Women and the Sea Serpent" and Peter Weiss' play "Marat/Sade", tonight at 8pm.Tickets are $10, $8 for students with ID and repeat customers. Neo-Futurarium: 5153 N. Ashland at Foster. (773) 275-5255

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hey, Sketch Comedy Nerds!

As a teacher, it's very annoying to have a comedy writing class full of students who have not seen a live sketch comedy show. It's like teaching art to students who have never stepped foot in a museum, but have seen pictures of paintings. It's even more of an ass biter to have students weeks into a class or months into the program who aren't out there seeking out sketch comedy. Plain and simple, it makes you a better writer. You begin to shift away from writing for TV and begin to think more in terms of writing for the stage. You see what other writers and performers attempt and are able to accomplish. Or you see them fail, which is also filled with valuable lessons in the fine art of writing comedy scenes. It is a key to unlocking your imagination.

Top two reasons students don't go see shows... No time. No money.

Both are bullshit. This is Chicago. There's probably a sketch revue going on right now as you read this. There are shows all over town seven days a week and they are dirt cheap.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Easy for you to say, Mr. Comedy Writing Teacher with lots of free time and disposable income with all those royalties rolling in from your book on Amazon."

My response to that is, "Please, Anonymous Student, don't turn my message into a plug for my book. There are shows out there that will only cost you whatever it takes to get your body there. So, if you get off your wide, pale butt and walk or ride your bike, it's absolutely FREE."

One such show is tonight, and every Tuesday night, called SketchTEST. SketchTEST is a sketch comedy showcase where multiple groups and solo performers try out their stuff for you. Last week, I saw by friends CRASSUS along with several other groups. They are there again, tonight. You will see a variety of performers, some very experimental, some very traditional, and it will blow your mind that you are seeing such a great show for free.

SketchTEST is produced by The Pub Theater, probably best known for their show "Bye, Bye, Liver." The show is on the second floor of Fizz, a great Lincoln Park bar on Lincoln just half a block north of Belmont. They have great food and cheap drink specials.

And SketchTEST will even let you - yes, YOU - put up material to see what hits and what misses. But before you go scrambling to do that, I recommend checking out the show. See what it's about. Then throw your hat in the chuckle ring. To book a slot, all you need to do is shoot an e-mail to

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Get 15% off "365 Sketches" at

Purchase 365 Sketches with 15% off with coupon code BEACHREAD305

Disclaimer: Use coupon code BEACHREAD305 at checkout and receive 15% off 365 Sketches. Maximum savings with this promotion is $10. You can only use the code once per account, and you can't use this coupon in combination with other coupon codes. This great offer ends on August 15, 2010 at 11:59 PM so try not to procrastinate! While very unlikely we do reserve the right to change or revoke this offer at anytime, and of course we cannot offer this coupon where it is against the law to do so.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Serpent's Song

I don't direct much anymore outside of class shows at The Second City Training Center. Why? It's a pain in the ass. Actors/improvisers are over committed and can't make all the rehearsals or sometimes miss a few of the shows, some folks don't understand that when the rehearsal starts at 7pm the director may actually want you there by 7pm, decent rehearsal space at a low cost (free) is difficult to find, some actors seem to never get off book, etc., etc., etc. If the pain outweighs the pleasure, screw it. What's the point?

"The Saga of the Viking Women" is the first show I have directed outside Second City in about a year and a half and I am having a blast. The cast and crew are both funny and fun to be with and generous with their creativity. The video above is a song written and performed by Nat Topping with the ensemble fleshing out the back up dancing and singing.

Come see the insanity next week at The Neo-Futurists. Get info by clicking HERE.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Strangest E-Mail I'll Write Today... Probably

Hey, Scott,

Rose Kruger is directing the "Creepy That Way" script and was wondering if I knew anyone who might know how to get an ear and a lower leg. Well, when it comes to dismemberment, I thought of you. I imagine Wildclaw renting a Public Storage unit filled to the roof with appendages in various stages of decay with bins for "torn off," "severed" and "chewed." Is there anyone there you can hook a brother up for a cup of flesh and bone?

- Joe

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I Believe...

...that I will never understand how most criminals straight up go to prison when caught, but if you have enough money, you'll just be forced to retire with a million-dollar golden parachute. Today's thugs need to trade in their hand guns for neck ties.

...that granted, Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground" kicks ass, but Klaus Voorman gets my Chase vote for his burning bass in Harry Nilsson's "Jump Into The Fire." Crank it up.

...that the best part of what I do in my life is take what's silly very, very seriously. This is Nat Topping as The Great Sea Serpent in "The Saga of the Viking Women" lamenting about how it's not easy being said serpent. It's a beautiful song composed by Nat and it just may bring a tear to your gill.

...that I'd rather support your theater company by seeing your work and I'd rather see evidence of your support of my work by seeing you in the audience.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I Believe...

...that I tend to avoid major events in the city because I hate dealing with crowds (read: idiots), especially in the heat. However, if you can pocket yourself in with a cool group of friends, fireworks along the lake are worth it and you have someone with whom to mock the boneheads.

...that not returning e-mails and phone calls isn't a gender thing.

...that I can buy hot dog eating as a sport. One must train and prepare. You can't just show up and expect to wolf down 60+ wieners in ten minutes. Hunting, fishing and bull fighting are not sports. When your opponent is an unwilling participant, it's not a sport. It's a gladiator event. Or a date.

...that, I get it, you made fireworks all by yourself or you took a trip to Indiana and bought some from Three-fingered Larry. Leave it to the professionals. They do it better and will save you an annual visit to the emergency room.

...that I love farmer's markets, but I really think the "farmers" should stick with food that was, at least, homemade and somewhat healthy. Candles, jewelry, artwork, take a hike. It's a farmer's market, not a flea market.

(In case you didn't know, my Wednesday "I Believe's" are always in response to my friend, Don Hall's, "I Believe's". Check them out by clicking HERE.)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Where YOU Can Buy "365 Sketches" Around the World

"365 Sketches" is starting to make its way into the world.

Here are some places where you can acquire it to complete your collection of books written by Joe Janes.


Langton Info Services, England



Quimby's at 1854 West North Avenue in Wicker Park. There will be a live in-store event on Saturday, August 21st at 7pm featuring me and some of Chicago's finest comedic actors performing monologues from 365.

The Book Cellar at 4736 North Lincoln Avenue in the heart of Lincoln Square.

The Second City Training Center on the fourth floor of Piper's Alley at North Avenue and Wells in Old Town. There will be live event on Friday, August 13th at 7pm in the de MAAT Studio featuring Michael Gellman and 8-10 scenes from the Strawdog 365 event. Tickets are $5 and available at the door.