Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I Believe...Thanksgiving Edition

...that the act of being thankful - for what you have and for the potential of future good - is essential to weathering the times when you feel the least blessed. (This is from AWG's blog. Not changing it. It's perfect.)

...that Christmas formally starts the day after Thanksgiving, even though Walgreen's started putting stuff out on shelves Halloween weekend. Every year, Christmas seems to push it's way in earlier like some asshole who holds up the door of a crowded elevator or CTA train to smash their way in to share with us their unwelcome fruitcake-scented armpits and holiday music blasting cellphone.

...that holidays are a pain in the ass. Don't get me wrong. I love Thanksgiving. Christmas, too. But times to be thankful and giving are every day of the year.

...that Thanksgiving is a time to take full stock in what and who one is grateful for in one's life and then to stab a turkey on a dining room altar in sacrifice to the gods.

...being a vegetarian means I usually have to BYOT(oFurkey) for Thanksgiving. I don't mind. I love to cook. But this year, I'm going to order my food. Check out this menu...

Thanksgiving Meal $20

Pomegranate Glazed Tofu
Mac n Cheese
Smashed Potatoes & Gravy
Stuffing
Greens
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Dinner rolls w/ rosemary butter
Slice of pie: you’re choice of pecan or chocolate silk
Meal orders must be in by 5pm, Weds, Nov 24th

...that I have never heard a Justin Bieber song, could not name the title to a Justin Bieber song, yet, I know who he is. And the song I woke up to in my head was about Justin Bieber fucking his own face. Thanks, Comedy Workshop. Great show yesterday!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Funny Ha-Ha

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I Believe...

...that, if you're feeling like your life is getting out of control, you should take one hour and go get some coffee and grade some papers and do some reading while someone else cleans your apartment. It's awesome. It's worth the money because they'll do such a better job than I will. Leave it to the professionals.

...that no one's story is completely his or hers to tell. That's why you change the names when you steal.

...that Greg Wendling cracks me up. He co-wrote this piece for a customized show. My favorite is the corporate motto, "The Earth Has A Lot To Give. Let's Take It."



...that I like getting up early, getting some stuff done, and then taking a little nap before I have to be anywhere. That's productivity, baby!

...that when the zombie apocalypse comes, it will be from genetically modified food. Companies like Monsanto are doing so much freaky stuff to our food, unchecked by government regulations, that it is frightening. Splicing animal DNA into tomatoes, copyrighting corn, etc, all to make "natural" food last longer. We eat this stuff? We might die, but our toxin-loaded meat sticks will live on. BRAAAAAAAAAAAINS!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Self-Publification

Last Saturday, I made my debut at one of my favorite Chicago shows, The Paper Machete. The Paper Machete was created by and is hosted by Christopher Piatt who describes it as "a free, weekly 'live magazine' covering pop culture, current events and American manners. Part spoken-word show, part vaudeville revue, The Paper Machete features comedians, journalists, storytellers and musical guests performing in the back room of north side bar. It’s a salon in a saloon." Chris asked me to do something about something from the news. On Thursday night, we settled on me addressing Amazon being pressured to remove an eBook about how a pedophile can practice their "craft" and not to get caught. My angle is was my own experience in self-publishing.

Here's what I wrote and performed. It started with me carrying a copy of my book up to the microphone.


This is a book I wrote. Sort of. In 2009, I wrote a comedy sketch a day for a year. This is all of them in one place. I didn’t write them to have a book, but they ended up in there. Not published by Simon and Schuster or Samuel French or some University Press. Published by me. And I hope that by the time I am done here, you are disgusted by it. Assuming you aren’t already.

November is National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo. Last year, the official NaNoWriMo website had 165,000 participants registered. 30,000 of them completed the goal of cranking out a 50,000 word novel from scratch. It’s like the marathon for out-of-shape would-be writers. If this year’s number of participants has increased like it has every other year, that means come December 1st, there could potentially be 40,000 new novels completed and published. Not from any big publishing house. Not placed in some fancy display at Borders. 40,000 new novels unleashed into the wild, available on-line as downloadable eBooks. We live in an age where anyone with a blog can be considered a published author, anyone with a webcam can be a filmmaker or porn star or both. We live in an age where anyone can create a piece of work and put it on the Internet for potential millions to see and then write about it on their own blogs. And most of what’s being generated out there is just crap.


Millions of people upload YouTube videos every day. Millions of bloggers post content every day, mostly recounts of vacations and videos of cats. I am guilty of both. The number of podcasts available for free just through iTunes is staggering. Musicians are using their laptops for recording studios and posting their work on-line. Although, in the music industry, it’s not called self-publishing, it’s called self-releasing. Which sounds more appropriate and makes me giggle.


In theater, it’s not unusual for a show to cancel if the number of people in the cast outnumbers the people in the audience. As a society, we’re getting close to having to cancel our show. There are more artists than audience. People complain about not being able to draw an audience to their show. That’s because the audience is busy elsewhere doing their own shows. In Chicago, you can see improv seven nights a week in a few different locations. Is there that much of a demand for it? No. No one is clamoring to see Uncle Billy’s Fun Sack do a montage at 11pm on a Sunday in the back of a dive bar. There are that many shows because there are that many people wanting and willing to do that show. Self-produced. The theater world’s version of self-published.


The problem with so much content being created and “published” is that there’s no filter. There’s no one sitting behind a desk going, “Ew. No. Not that one.” For many of us, that’s good news. A lot of good, interesting artists get a chance to be seen or heard. But when the floodgates are open, a lot of flotsam gets a chance, too. On October 28th, Amazon allowed Philip R. Greaves II, or in today’s vernacular, Phillip R. Greaves .2, to upload a new eBook. An experienced “published” author, he already has two other eBooks.


The other books on Amazon that Greaves wrote have nothing to do with sexual molestation. One is called
A Government of Service to All – “A discripeion of the political realities that influence us all.” And there’s my all time favorite, The Grand Delusion or What’s God Got To Do With It? Described as “An examination of man and his many notions of "God" with an aim toward disproving the existence of any universal intelengence of omnipotent creator. “ That’s right. He misspelled “intelligence.” The only thing being molested in these books is spelling. Or, as Greaves would write, “spieling.” Self-publishing is not only an assault on our morals and principles, it’s an assault on the English language.
((Note: I tried to link to these this morning, and it looks like Amazon has taken everything by Greaves off their website.))




His latest non-seller, a self-help book. The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure: a Child-lover's Code of Conduct. It offers advice to pedophiles afraid of becoming the center of retaliation and includes first-person descriptions of such encounters, purportedly written from a child's point of view.


The book triggered outrage on Twitter – our newest form of quick self-published shouts at the world. A chorus of comment leavers on the book’s Amazon page called for them to pull the book. Which they did do. Three weeks after it was made available. Not because of any principles, because of the bad press they were getting and the threat of a boycott. Look, I’m not defending pedophilia or a pedophile. I’m all for whatever floats your boat as long as it does no harm to anyone and, if another boat’s involved, it’s there because it wants to be there, is of legal boating age and you’re not a Somali pirate. Amazon initially refused to take the book down based on freedom of speech. Hard to argue against because then we start talking about where to draw lines.


Many critics claimed Amazon endorsed pedophilia just because they carried the book. They have many other books about pedophilia, fiction and non-fiction. From text books to Lolita. This one, however, tells people how to get away with it, which many people feel, goes too far. Easy to understand, but based on that logic, there’s more stuff for Amazon to take down. They also carry the Dexter books and DVDs, and I’m pretty sure they don’t endorse serial killing. Now, you might make the case that one is non-fiction and offers actual advice on how to get away with breaking the law. Except Dexter does exactly that. It’s a code of conduct for serial killers who don’t want to get caught.


They also carry other books that are literally instructional manuals on how to commit crimes. The Anarchist’s Cookbook, The Marijuana Growers Handbook and Decision Points by George W. Bush.


A more frightening book on Amazon that I found is Improvised Munitions Black Book, Vol. 1. Volume 1! There’s more to come. It gets rave customer reviews, mostly folks from Northern Ireland. “if you want a good book about explosives, rockets, chemical mixtures, how to build devices, and how to acquire ingredients, this book is for you.” That’s a direct quote. No protests in the comments section from anyone. A little more frightening is the accredited author. Self-published by the US Government. On the Amazon webpage there’s a section of “customers who bought this also bought…” which leads you to Uncle Sam’s other book, the U.S. Marine Corps Sniper Training Manual, just in case that DIY bomb didn’t go off.


Before the Pedophilia for Dummies book hit the headlines, its author claimed it had sold precisely one copy. After the media picked up the story, it had moved enough units to make the Amazon’s Top 100 list. Top 100 out of hundreds of thousands of books. Quite an accomplishment for a self-published eBook by an unknown author who rejects the oppression of spellcheck. I seriously doubt the books, were scooped up exclusively by pedophiles. That’s the double-edged sword of offensive material. One has to read it to be able to intelligently comment on it. Oh, not the people protesting. We all know the loudest protesters are the ones who didn’t read the book or see the movie. Sadly, for them, the digital age has taken its toll on book burnings. Used to be able to gather a bunch of copies up and set them on fire to demonstrate your disgust. Can’t throw a bunch of eBooks in a pile and hit delete.


Self-publishing is intoxicating. After I wrote a comedy sketch a day for a year, they were all produced last June. We had 26 directors putting up 26 shows with 176 actors over eleven nights at the Strawdog. I wanted to give the directors something special to say thank you for their hard work. I went to lulu.com, a self-publishing site. Although, lulu calls it “open publishing,” I guess because “it’s complicated” publishing didn’t sound very inviting. There, I uploaded the scenes into this book. With the click of a mouse, I became a published author. You can find the book on-line. Even at Amazon.


When I brought hard copies in to give to directors, other people asked me about buying one for themselves. Dollar signs shot off in my head like green and gold fireworks. I dreamt of being able to retire and just lie in a bed of royalties from book sales. That, of course, hasn’t happened. Instead of a bed, maybe a nice throw pillow of royalties. Not a big audience of readers for a telephone book sized tome of scripted sketch comedy by some guy.


I’m fine with that. It was meant as a souvenir of the event. Nothing more. But it would be nice to hit the Amazon Top 100 at least once, even for a moment. I mean, if a pedophile - who spells “perversity” with two “c”s - can do it… I just need to convince everyone there’s a reason to protest it. This thing (I hold up 365 Sketches) is vile and offensive.


Let me read some of the scene titles to you…


“Unicorns – Let’s Fuck Them Without Permission”


“Give The Elderly Aids”


“Anything Can Be A Urinal, Especially On A Train or At A Buffet”


“Lynching’s Aren’t Fun, Not Without Bungee Cords”


“Cancer is God’s Way of Saying Die, Already!”


Riled up, yet? It’s available on-line and in book form. A really big, easy to burn book. You can build a bonfire that will last for days. It’s also on sale at The Book Cellar. I think we should all march up there after. Everyone throw in a few bucks, I’m good for two dollars, and we buy a copy and set it on fire. Afterward, we can also have some wine and a sandwich. I love that place.



Greaves
.2, my fellow published author, was interviewed by The Smoking Gun, and insisted his book doesn't advocate for adults to harm children. "The best advice I can give a pedophile,” he says, “is accept that masturbation is your best friend.”


...which brings me back to the topic of self-publication.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dear Barack


Dear Mr. President,

Are you kidding me? Are you freakin' kidding me?

This was a no brainer and you rolled over on it. Really rich people should pay more taxes.

I know, I know. If these tax cuts expire for the rich, rich people won't be able to hire any more illegal immigrants to work around their mansions. They may have to hire a pool boy who can also do yard work and keep the kids out of their sight until needed or grown. Life is tough for everyone.

The Bush tax cuts, particularly this aspect of the Bush tax cuts, are exactly what led to the economic mess we're in, now. It doesn't stimulate the economy. It would have already. They've been in effect that last ten years! When rich people make more money, they tend to keep it for themselves. You know this.

This last election had nothing to do with a "mandate" from the people. Most of the winners squeaked in like a tight release of gas at the dinner table. It was Big Money vs. Not As Much Money. And the democrats still have a majority in congress! When you were elected to office two years ago, that was a mandate. A mandate for change. A mandate to fight for the middle class and the poor, not ridiculously rich individuals and corporations by continuing to give them absurd tax cuts and tax breaks.

What gives, here? Boehner have a picture of you offering cigarettes to a baby?

Do your job, Mr. President. All this tells me is that you must really like Mitch McConnell and want to help fulfill his (myopic) vision of making you a one term president.

Sincerely,

Joe Janes

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fiddy

Last night, I performed at "This Much Is True." This was my first time doing anything along the lines of storytelling since my stand-up days. I could talk about anything I wanted. The only criteria was that it had to be true. This was a tough assignment for me. I wasn't able to come up with one story. What I came up with was a collection of smaller stories all around having birthdays.

The place was packed. I went second and was nervous as hell, but once I started, that melted away. The audience was great.

Deanna Moffitt and Scott Whitehair were the co-hosts. All the stories were touching and compelling. They do this show once a month and it's free. Only in Chicago. Check it out. Get there early.

For those of you unable to make it or missed my slot, here's a posting of my story. Keep in mind, it's written to be performed. Poor grammar abounds and there are a few stage directions.


"Fiddy"

Even though mine is six months away, I’ve been thinking a lot about birthdays.

Two years ago, I called my brother to see what he was doing for his 50th birthday. He said he would probably just get drunk. I found this unacceptable. “You’re turning 50. That’s huge. That’s half a century. Think of something you want to do, and I’ll drive to Ohio and celebrate with you. On me. “

I called him back a week later. He had a plan. Let’s go to the local sushi restaurant and then get drunk. Also unacceptable. He could do that anytime. More importantly, he lives in a small town along Lake Erie. I’m not going to partake in Lake Erie sushi. I told him he needed to think bigger. Let me do the planning.

I got on-line and started hunting. Found out Cleveland had a House of Blues. Good sign. Playing on my brother’s birthday…“Wish You Were Here” – the Midwest’s best Pink Floyd tribute band – a fierce competition, I’m sure. They would be performing, in it’s entirety, the album “Dark Side of the Moon.” This was a huge bingo in the 50th birthday search. My brother went to high school in the 70s. He smoked pot. He smoked pot and he listened to Pink Floyd. He would love this. I bought tickets, rented a car, drove to Ohio, the band really did put on a great show. He had a good time. Mission accomplished.

I bring it up because next year, I turn 50. 50. What the hell? How can something be so imminent and, yet, surprising. And I’m not sure how, or even if, I want to celebrate. Just getting drunk is sounding pretty good. Thinking about it has had me looking over previous birthdays.

Now, I enjoy birthdays. Turning 30, turning 40, no big deal. Good times. Smooth transitions. I’ve had intimate birthday celebrations, I’ve had parties, I’ve had tacked-on parties that came after a show or an event.

I will say this…Cake and blowing out a candle… essential to a good birthday.

I have never had a surprise party. Except year zero, when I was born. That’s the ultimate surprise party. Hanging out in a very warm, dark place finding just doing this (hold up hand and wiggles fingers) immensely entertaining. Then, sudden, bright lights and my first birthday spanking. Naked. Crying. No cake. Not a good birthday.

I’ve had great birthdays, lame ones, and just okay ones. I have only had two difficult birthdays.

The first one was when I turned six in kindergarten. Now, it’s not like I was lamenting turning six. “Oh, man, the first half of my first decade is over. It’s all down hill from here. Life sucks. I’ve had it up to here with finger painting and sounding out words. Look at those kids in daycare (shake fist). They don’t know. They don’t know.” Up until then, every birthday was one hell of a party. Lots of family – aunts, uncles, cousins – a pile of presents and cake and ice cream. And you were expected to make a big mess and end up wearing most of your cake. Birthdays were awesome. But nobody warned me that things would change when I turned six. There was no party that year. Cake came after our regular dinner. Just the immediate family. Then we watched TV. Only two presents. A toy bow and arrow, which was cool, but failed in its ability to inflict any real damage on my siblings. The other present, the omen of birthdays to come, the sign that I was getting older, was a shirt. A shirt? A short-sleeved dress shirt I could wear to school. They gave me something I needed. Something that was useful. For a six year old, they may as well have given me a tube of toothpaste. “Here, Son. Go crazy. We know how much you love fluoride.”

But I learned something. I knew then, that for me to have a good birthday, I’d have to take matters into my own hands. I made sure that every year, I asked for one thing that I really wanted and then mercilessly hounded my parents to deliver. Now, I kept it real. I wasn’t asking for a fully functioning chocolate spaceship that ran on the blood of fairies. Or even a pony. Nothing too expensive. Nothing that could not be obtained. I made sure I got something I really, really wanted. If they wanted to throw in a shirt or socks or toothpaste, whatever, fine. Just make sure I get that one thing.

The best example I can think of was in the sixth grade. Little background, I grew up in a trailer park. Along a river. Near woods and a dairy farm. A reluctant member of Future Rednecks of America. My friend, Butch, who lived a few trailers down, bragged to me that on his birthday, his dad let him hold his handgun. For my 12th birthday, I didn’t ask for a bike or a baseball mitt or to cradle a firearm. I asked for a briefcase. Although, I didn’t call it a briefcase. I called it an attaché case. Why did I want an attaché case? As I explained to my foolish parents, every top secret agent on television had an attaché case. James Bond, Maxwell Smart, all the men from UNCLE. All had attaché cases. And they were cool. My parents tried to reason me out of it. I couldn’t take it to school. My books wouldn’t fit in it and it wouldn’t fit in my desk. Next year, in junior high, it wouldn’t fit in my locker. I held my ground. There was nothing I wanted more in the world than an attaché case. And that year, on my 12th birthday, I got one.

I was ecstatic. It didn’t come with any secret compartments, knock out gas, or spring-loaded knives. Apparently, those aren’t standard. But what I had was a good start to becoming a secret agent. Sleek, black, little latches that could be locked with a tiny key. I put comic books and monster magazines in it and carried it everywhere. The playground, church, on the bus, even school. Kept it right next to my desk. Rode my banana seat bike holding it with one hand. No one mistook me for a secret agent, but I felt like one. My love affair with my attaché case lasted forever, a full week. I was 12. I got tired of lugging it around. I decided that a very funny thing to do would be to empty it and fill it with shaving cream. No one would open a briefcase and expect a sea of minty foam. So, that’s what I did. And it was funny. To everyone except my dad whose new can of Barbisol did nothing but fizzle when he went to shave. That was a good birthday.

The only other difficult birthday I had was when I turned 25. In this case, it had nothing to do with any celebration. It had to do with me being unhappy with where I was in my life. I wasn’t on SNL. I wasn’t a movie star. I didn’t have my own sitcom. I was bar backing at a meat market called Corvette’s in a Ramada Inn in Cincinnati. Very, very far away from anything I wanted to do with my life. I wasn’t rubbing elbows with celebrities. I was rubbing elbows with rapidly aging salesmen and divorced women, former disco queens and kings, who wore too much Jungle Gardenia and Old Spice Musk. Also, on that very day, in addition to refilling ice bins and beer coolers, I had to dress up like a sea-faring fisherman, who for some odd reason also wore a scuba mask and snorkel, and offers customers fried calamari from a fishing net. I argued with the inconsistency of a scuba mask and yellow slicker, the Gorton fisherman steers the ship, not dives into the ocean to grab up fish sticks by hand. But management vetoed me down. It was humiliating, but that difficult birthday was also a turning point. I took matters into my own hands, again. I told the manager I wanted to stop bar backing and be a club dj. It was the closest step I could think of to make that would, even vaguely, put to use my college theater education. He put me on the happy hour shift where I could play whatever I wanted. While the nighttime djs were playing extended dance mixes of Madonna tunes, I played classic rock before anyone called it that. The Doobie Brothers, ELO, Steely Dan. I was cool, again. And I got out of there early enough to be able to hit local open mics and work on a stand-up act. A year later, I was on the road working fulltime as a comic.

Some of my best birthdays have been those planned by girlfriends. If you’re in a relationship and your partner doesn’t know how to plan a birthday celebration for you, get out. It’s not a good relationship. I had a girlfriend where on her birthday, I got a suite at a hotel downtown, tickets to the matinee of Wicked, dinner and drinking at a Mediterranean restaurant that had belly dancing and belly dancing lessons. It was an event. When my birthday rolled around, she had planned nothing. We ended up going to a restaurant we heard about that was only okay and then walking around. It was so ridiculously low-key and unplanned that I thought, okay, well, she’s obviously putting me on. I’ll turn a corner and see a big party of my friends jump out from behind a dumpster and yell, “Surprise.” Nope. No cake. No candles. Relationship doomed.

Best all-time birthday was my 33rd. I invited a bunch of my friends to join me for pizza, cake, ice cream and video games at Chuck E. Cheese. And something you may not know about Chuck E. Cheese, but makes sense when you think about all the parents who go there, they serve beer. It was a blast. It was on a weeknight, so there weren’t a lot of kids around. They let us play in the ball pit. In retrospect, I’m a little grossed out by that. At the time, after a few beers, it rocked.

So, I’m turning 50 next year. I’m not on SNL, which I’m okay with, but it would be nice to be asked. I’m not a movie star. I don’t have my own sitcom. I’m not 100% happy with where I’m at in my life, but I’m pretty happy. I’m at about 85%. I love my job. I have good friends. It’s not like my 25th birthday, half of my life ago.

For my 50th. I feel like I should do something big, like jump out of an airplane. With a parachute. Or do something meaningful, like volunteer at a homeless shelter. I’m just kidding about that one. Hitting the half-century mark really does feel like “getting old and no turning back.” What I learned from my brother is that it’s easy to want to celebrate turning 50 if you’re not the one turning 50. Some good friends, a cake and just getting drunk sounds pretty good.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

This Much Is True - Tonight!

This is reprinted from TMIT's e-mail blast...

We go to the "J" file this month for another great lineup, with guests who not only share a consonant, but talent, creativity, and unforgettable stories. Come check it out!


J.W Basilo, a writer/performer/humorist, is equal parts poignant and perverse, hilarious and heart-wrenching. His raucous performances and uncanny charisma have earned him a reputation as one of the most sought-after and compelling spoken word artists working today. His work has appeared on NPR, in the Chicago Tribune, numerous literary journals and in hundreds of theaters, dive bars, schools and comedy clubs across North America. His one man dramedy, No One Can Fix You, debuted in 2009 to rave reviews in Chicago, Seattle, and New York City. All things considered, he’s doing pretty well for a guy who failed Creative Writing in high school. His artful jackassery can be found at his Internet home, BustedMouth.com

Janna Sobel is an actress, director, improviser and writer. She also supports young people in doing these things, through the Old Town School of Folk Music, the Poetry Center of Chicago, and The University of Chicago Lab School. She is the Associate Artistic Director of Mudlark Theater in Evanston. She also really likes to tell stories, and you might have glimpsed her doing so at swanky events like Essay Fiesta, Stories at the Store, and the open mic at Story Club. Janna loves Chicago and it’s creative heart. Since moving here two years ago, she has worked with inspired souls at Chicago Dramatists, 16th Street Theater, Second City, WNEP Productions, Improv Playhouse, and Courier 12 Collective, and is grateful for every bit of company she’s found. You can see her performing currently in Chicago’s Weekly Improvised Bookstore at Gorilla Tango theater on Saturday nights at 7, and soon at the iO Theater with a newly formed Harold team.

Joe Janes is a writer, director, teacher, and actor in Chicago. He has taught improv and writing at The Second City Training Center since 1997 and is the Improv Program Coordinator for Columbia College. He is also a senior writer/director at Fig Media, Inc. He is a founding member of the WNEP Theater Foundation and the artistic director of Robot vs Dinosaur. He has written and provided voices for the CD-ROM game “You Don’t Know Jack.” He also has an Emmy for writing for a Cincinnati children’s program called “Club 19.” A non-believer of writer’s block or not enough time, he wrote a comedy sketch a day for a year, had them produced as an acclaimed festival of shows, and published them in a book. ’365 Sketches’ is available at lulu.com

THIS MUCH IS TRUE
An evening of storytelling that offers an intimate peek into each of our writer's lives,
revealing the humorous, embarrassing and poignant moments that make up a life remembered.
Featuring Deanna Moffitt, Larry Kerns, Dorrie Ferguson, and Scott Whitehair, with special guests.

Tuesday, November, 9 7:30 PM
FREE!!!

The Hopleaf (http://www.hopleaf.com) is located at 5148 Clark, just a few doors south of Foster
- Clark bus (#22) to the doorstep
- Redline to Berwyn stop, a few blocks west, two blocks south on Clark
- Ample metered street parking

Check us out on the web at http://www.thismuchistruechicago.com

Friday, November 5, 2010

This Much Is True

Previous to writing a sketch a day for 365 days, I updated this blog six days a week with social and political commentary. Since 365 wrapped up, my updates have been less frequent, usually just once or twice a week. Why the change?

Well, the social and political commentary was a great method to develop and discipline my writing skills. 365 was a great way to really dive into a form that I really enjoy and has meant something to me since I was a kid. Now, I'm exploring different things as a writer that don't fit easily onto a blog.

One of the things I am working on is a performance at This Much Is True. TMIT is a monthly evening of storytelling created a few years ago by some friends of mine after they took a workshop with master solo performer, Paula Killen.

Me getting up in front of a group of people and talking is no big deal to me. I teach, I was a professional stand-up and I've done many a hosting and emceeing gig. What distinguishes this from other things I have done is that it must be a true story. That's the only criteria and one that kind of freaks me out. I'm not one to just spin yarns about my life. I have based works on actual experiences, but those are rewritten for comedic effect and wouldn't hold up as testimony in a court of law. To get up and tell something that is absolutely true is scary to me. Not because it's vulnerable, although it is, but because I'm worried it won't be interesting. Or have a good ending. I've been involved in lots of fun and fascinating things in my life, but I'm not sure I can get beyond a "so that happened" summation and a....so, what?

So, that's the challenge and that's what I have been working on and avoiding working on because it's this coming Tuesday and I don't have a rough draft yet.

But, please come out and be witness to either my train wreck or brilliance or somewhere in between.

This Much is True
The Hopleaf — Upstairs
5148 North Clark Street (just south of Foster)
Tuesday, November 9th
7:30pm — FREE!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Learn about Writing Satire from One of the Masters

Lizz Winstead, co-creator of "The Daily Show," is doing a workshop TONIGHT (Monday) at The Beat Kitchen on writing satire.

Get yer asses there!

http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/133548