Immediately following the release of my debut full-length comedy album UNAMERICAN (recorded in December 2011 and released in May 2012), I began working on new material with the goal of creating a new hour by the time I returned to the venue where UNAMERICAN was recorded--Out Front On Main in Murfreesboro, Tennessee--the following year. When I did my second headlining weekend there in December 2012, I recorded the sets again. But when I went back to listen to the sets after the performances, I realized only about half of the material was good enough for me to feel comfortable putting it out there. I had five solid pieces that I had crafted over the year, totaling at around 25 minutes, and the rest was just not at the same level of quality compared to the material on UNAMERICAN.
Around the same time, I was booked to headline the Epic Comedy Hour in Huntsville, Alabama at the Flying Monkey Arts Theatre (which is an INCREDIBLE room that I encourage anyone within a few hours' drive of Huntsville to do). The show had a great reputation in the local community with audience turnout consistently in the triple-digits, and it was scheduled at the end of March 2013, so it was going to be among the last big shows I would be doing in the South prior to moving to Portland, Oregon that summer. Then I found out how long I was supposed to do as the headliner:
The perfect slot to showcase the 25 minutes of solid new material following UNAMERICAN. I decided I would record this set for release as an EP sometime later in the year.
I got in touch with one of the producers of Epic Comedy Hour, a comedian & improvisor by the name of Jason Steinhauser whom I've known for several years, and told him of my plan. He passed the word along to a couple other people, and the next thing I knew, I was being interviewed by the local newspaper in Huntsville about the recording.
As a comedian, when you formally announce your intention to record a certain set (or number of sets) for a future release down the road, it creates a ridiculous amount of pressure on yourself. When I performed the sets that later became UNAMERICAN, I had no intention going into them that I would be pressing those performances onto a CD and releasing them to the public. So those sets, while painstakingly constructed and polished over a long period of time, had a looseness and fluidity to them that I hadn't had before. Jokes that I'd been telling for years found new ad-libbed tags that have stuck since. It was only after the fact that I thought, "Other people would LOVE to hear this." Also, UNAMERICAN was cobbled together from two sets of the same material on two different nights. So if a joke from Night A didn't do so well, Night B could take its place within the final edit.
However, this time around, it was not only a pre-planned thing--the show was billed as a live recording event, and I even had local press inquiring me about it. So then EVERYBODY knew. And I only had one shot at the set this time. There was no Night B.
NO PRESSURE, RIGHT?
To compound the amount of stress and pressure from those circumstances alone, the night of the show I had planned to carpool with a couple other Nashville comics down to Huntsville. Which isn't a big deal on its own, except there were five of us packed rather intimately in a Chevy Volt. So it wasn't a relaxing two-hour drive.
Because the drive instead took three-and-a-half hours, because it was also pouring rain and traffic on the interstates leaving Nashville were clogged tighter than your colon after 50 years of eating McDonald's. I was 30 minutes late to my own live recording. Not 30 minutes late as in, 30 minutes later than my intended arrival prior to the show starting. THE SHOW HAD ALREADY STARTED AND THEY WERE THIRTY MINUTES IN. The local comics from Huntsville and one comic from Knoxville, TN had to stretch their own sets in order to stall for our eventual arrival.
Then, it was only after getting there that I found out that the audience in the theatre numbered over 200, and it was the largest audience they'd had to date and IT WAS BECAUSE OF THE LIVE RECORDING. Remember when I said I only had one shot at nailing the set?
NO PRESSURE, RIGHT?
I made it thru the set. There were a couple of minor flubs in the first few minutes--forgetting a part of a setup that, though it didn't ultimately ruin the joke, would have brought the point home more effectively; barely fucking up a punchline in another joke--and you can hear the pressure of the recording in my voice (because I tend to ramble when I am under pressure), but the set went relatively smoothly from then on. At least, as smoothly as it could have gone given all of the above described circumstances surrounding myself and the show.
So, given all of that, an obvious question should be begged: why put out this EP anyway? Simply put, because despite all of the obstacles and complications surrounding that night, I still managed to pull off a solid performance in front of a huge crowd in a city (and state) where I had never previously performed. Much like the UNAMERICAN shows, I still walked away from that set with the feeling, "Other people would LOVE to hear this." Plus, this set is comprised of 95% all-new material (there is one joke recycled from UNAMERICAN, but that has since been placed within a larger bit developed since that album), and I would be willing to wage that this set was probably one of the best performances of this material, even despite everything going on around it.
Another reason to put this out is so that I can more or less finally retire this material. I've been working with this 25 minutes of material for the last year and a half, and to be honest, I'm tired of it and ready to start building the next act, especially with my moving to Portland over the summer. I've already written approximately 10-15 minutes of new stuff since arriving, though to be fair I haven't been onstage to actually TRY any of it. So it's entirely possible that all 10-15 minutes of new stuff I've written is a load of horseshit, and that's fine because I enjoy the process of developing and polishing new material.
And my final, and perhaps most important, reason to release this: I'm giving it away for free. So who the fuck cares, right?
FURTHER THOUGHTS & PROVOCATIONS is essentially my final hurrah in terms of my years spent doing stand-up in Tennessee. I am incredibly proud of the work I did there and the things I accomplished, and I can't wait to return with new things to tell you from my time here in Portland.
Until then, this will have to do. And I hope you dig it.
Hello there! It's been a while since I posted an update on the site. In fact, the last update was dated prior to my move to Portland.
So how is Portland?
It's been incredible, infuriating, beautiful, depressing, and an even wider variety of emotions than my words could describe. Plus, I've already written some words attempt to do so. In my Foxhole Dispatch email newsletter earlier this month (after a bit of an involuntary break), I wrote a long essay about my trials & tribulations over my first summer in Portland. The fine folks at the official comedy website of my former home, KnoxComedy.com, took the essay and repurposed it in a couple of excerpts on their website, which you can read here:PART ONE
Also, the EP that I intended on releasing on June 1st is STILL happening. Due to a laundry list of delays that kept me from working on the project, I am happy to say that I am FINALLY back on track, and the EP should be out sometime in the next month or two. You can still pre-order it on the MERCH page if you'd like--it's free after all.
That's all for now. I'll post another update soon, likely coinciding with the release of FURTHER THOUGHTS & PROVOCATIONS.
Until next time,
My new live EP, FURTHER THOUGHTS & PROVOCATIONS, is scheduled to be released this Saturday, June 1st.
That's not gonna happen.
Why not? Because, quite simply: life calls. The combination of working, performing, various family gatherings, and planning a cross-country move at the same time doesn't necessarily lend you a lot of free time to work on that.
So, when IS the new EP going to be released, then? Hopefully, before the end of June, but that's also pretty tentative. Coor & I are planning on leaving for Portland within the next week, putting us there around June 7th. After we find jobs & stable housing (we're staying at a friend's place for the first week or so), I will then be able to work on it and get it out to you. However, for now, I'm holding off on putting a specific date on it. As things become a little more settled in some of the more important areas of my life, so will that.
That said, you can still pre-order the EP on the MERCH page, and I highly encourage you to do so. That will sign you up for a special bonus edition of my bi-monthly Foxhole Dispatch series, which will send you a direct download link straight to your email inbox on the day of release.
The countdown to Portland is on!
BEHOLD! Here is the cover & title of my new EP, to be released digitally on June 1st! It will be available exclusively here on my website. You can now pre-order your copy of the EP for free by visiting the MERCH page and filling out the small form there. Do it and you will receive a link to download the EP directly in your email inbox on the morning of June 1st. So get on it!
Also, I am happy to announce that I have been officially booked for my first gigs upon moving to Portland, Oregon next month. The first one will be June 14 at the Bagdad Theater & Pub opening for Ian Karmel, and the next gig after that will be July 17 at Crush (full lineup TBD). Hopefully, there will be some others in-between the two, but it's nice to know that I already have a couple shows on the books more than a month before I arrive. The countdown to Portland is on. EXCITING!
Until next time,
I am headlining & recording a NEW LIVE EP at the Flying Monkey Theater in Huntsville, Alabama this Friday, and I got interviewed by the Huntsville Times about the occasion!
to check out the article!
This is kinda silly, but worth sharing: a couple weeks ago, a Facebook friend posted a link to something called Couch By Couchwest
. CXCW is a tongue-in-cheek alternative to the ever-popular South By Southwest music, arts, and interactive festival held in Austin, TX every year. SXSW is known for being horrendously expensive to get tickets for, so Couch By Couchwest is marketed towards those too broke to afford SXSW.
This includes musicians. Many bands & artists cannot afford to submit to SXSW or travel to the festival if they did submit and were even accepted, so Couch By Couchwest came up with a novelty concept: film yourself performing from your couch, send the video, and they showcase it on their website.
I thought it was an ingenius concept, so I submitted a video of myself performing a short set from my couch. And I got picked up! I think I am also the first comedian to "perform" at the Couch By Couchwest Festival, but it was a fun outside-the-box project. You can watch thd video of my set by CLICKING HERE
Just because Unamerican has been out for nearly a year (sidenote: WOW) doesn't mean it still can't get a little bit of press every now and again. The fine folks over at America's Comedy
gave my album a glowing review over on their website! CLICK HERE
to read it!
Prior to publishing their review of my CD, they also published a brief little publicity piece about me last week leading up to today's review. You can also read that by CLICKING HERE
Excerpted from the 2/15 edition of Foxhole Dispatch, my twice-a-month email newsletter. To join, go to the EMAIL LIST page!
When I first started doing comedy in Nashville five years ago, I had a methodical timeline of what I wanted my stand-up career to be: I would spend my first five years learning the ropes and building my foundation (the "learn what I'm doing" stage), I would spend the next five years using that foundation and all of the tools and 'on-the-job training' I had onstage to get really fuckin' good at it (the "learn what I'm doing WELL" stage), and then I would spend the next five years and beyond just kickin' ass (the "just kickin' ass" stage--didn't really think that one thru, obviously). A more streamlined view of that timeline would be like this:
Comedy Year 0-5: learn how to make a career in comedy
Comedy Year 6-10: begin making career in comedy
Comedy Year 11+: have career in comedy
Now, I realize this isn't the most realistic view when it comes to making it in the entertainment business; there are all kinds of variables that affect when (or if) those benchmarks are met. These were just the goals I set for myself when I was a fresh-faced 19-year-old just starting out at open mics around Nashville, before I really knew anything about comedy.
When I originally made this timeline at 19, I decided that after spending five years in Nashville (or, as the case has turned out, two years in Nashville and three in Knoxville), I would relocate to a larger city with a more prominent comedy scene--not New York or Los Angeles (that was the destination after ten years), but something that was a step down from that, yet considerably bigger than where I am now. Something along the lines of Chicago, or Atlanta, or Boston, or San Francisco--or along the lines of many others like it.
After spending a week in Austin, Texas during the summer of 2011, I was leaning pretty heavily on that choice for a few months. I loved the city, I had friends & relatives either in the city or very close to it, it had a fairly sizable comedy scene (larger than Knoxville/Nashville, but not as big as NYC/LA, which was the main requirement), and of course all of the cultural perks that came with it: music, food, weather, etc., but I couldn't commit fully to it because I knew that Texas is a hard beast to conquer. Austin is one of the coolest cities in the world, but then you have THE REST OF TEXAS. It had its pros and cons, in other words.
In the fall of 2011, when I met my girlfriend Coor (who is also a comedian), one of our first conversations was about where we were going to go after Knoxville. We were in the same boat: we both knew we had to graduate to a bigger scene, but we didn't know where to go. I told her about Austin and my reservations about it. She had been leaning heavily on Chicago at the time, but didn't like the bitter cold, nor did she feel it was a safe city. Also, she hates improv, so she wasn't sold on her choice either.
As our relationship grew, we talked more and more about what we were going to do, where we were going to go, and when, and we still didn't really have an answer. Then, last fall, we received some news: the lease on the house where we were renting from would end in May 2013, and we would have to relocate. Our choice became this: do we just find another place in Knoxville and continue what we've been doing and eventually make an attempt to go somewhere else?
Or do we take advantage of an opportunity, and GO FOR IT NOW?
The hunt was on. We had about nine months to decide, plan, and execute a huge decision. The conversation came up again. "Where should we go?" Finally, about six months ago, an answer came:
"How about Portland?"
At that point, I immediately recalled a completely out-of-the-blue conversation I had exactly a year ago on Facebook with a young comic from the Portland, Oregon area named Carson Creecy. He had messaged me about comedy in Nashville, and after filling him in, he told me about the comedy scene in Portland. I had always heard that it was one of the strongest scenes in the country, but I had never known anyone out there to ask. I immediately pulled up our conversation on my phone to look at it again: shows every night of the week (in some cases, two or three shows a night), two major comedy clubs in the city, two major national comedy festivals in the city, presence of comics who had performed on Conan and other late-night shows, the IFC comedy series PORTLANDIA starring Fred Armisen (formerly of SNL) and Carrie Brownstein.
Then we did more research: amazing food, amazing weather, no sales tax, a reputation as one of the environmentally-friendly cities in the world, an economy that--though not necessarily kickin' ass--allows for one of the most affordable major cities on the West Coast. Oh, and despite being on the West Coast, it is still relatively centrally located for touring purposes--Seattle, Vancouver (Canada), Las Vegas, San Francisco, and even Los Angeles are all within a day's drive (in the case of Vegas & LA, a LONG day's drive). Yes, there are hipsters abound, but every city has its drawbacks.
Therefore, after much exposition and buildup, I am proud to announce that in May, Coor & I will be moving to Portland, Oregon to pursue the next levels in our comedy careers.
Due in part to the nature of the move, next week we will be temporarily moving back to the Nashville area to hole up with my folks for the next couple of months while we save up money before we go to Portland.
Sadly, this does mean that neither Coor nor I will really have a chance to say goodbye to the Knoxville comedy scene before we go to Nashville, which is a shame because Knoxville has been crucial for our development as comics, and the other people involved in the community here have been so awesome to both of us in the time we've been here. If we can make a visit at any point before heading out west, I'm sure we will.
For now, onward and upward to Portland: Oregon's Seattle!
Until next time,
This is something I shared in my most recent Foxhole Dispatch, which is my twice-a-month email newsletter. This will give you an idea of the kind of stuff I write in it. If you like it, you should go sign up for my email list over on the EMAIL LIST page!
Happy New Year! Taking a page from my friend & fellow comic Joe Messina's book, I decided to do something a little more goofy with this dispatch. I wrote a lot of jokes last year (influenced in no small part by my releasing a CD, thus forcing me to develop new material rather quickly). However, not every joke worked, regardless of how many times I told them or how much I may have liked them. Therefore, I present my Top 10 Failed Jokes Of 2012. Enjoy!
10. "dating car salesman"
- One of the few relationship jokes I wrote, in which the bit basically devolves into a series of car-related sexual references. It was a good example of why I don't write many relationship jokes.
9. the bit wherein I describe my ineptitude for fatherhood as evidenced by my apathy towards letting my phone battery die
- I thought this premise was much more relatable than it turned out to be (the bit would later go on to describe why I think phones are better than babies: babies don't know where the nearest Quizno's is, they're terrible at Words With Friends, etc). Audiences tend not to like jokes that ultimately involve dead babies. Open Mic 101.
8. "Why did the psychic chicken cross the road? Because of THE PROPHECY!"
- This joke is one that I frequently do from a segment called "The Island Of Misfit Jokes," which is a series of random one-liners that have no place elsewhere in my usual sets. To date, it has never worked. That will not stop me from telling it, though.
7. the one where I basically make fun of Nashville musicians
- I did a show in Nashville in September where I met this musician from Australia who was a bit of a pompous douchebag, so I just wrote a bit making fun of him for five minutes. Most people outside of Nashville don't understand the pomposity of the Nashville music scene, so they don't get it. And people in Nashville are generally afraid to laugh at jokes about its own music scene, so they don't get it either. An unfortunate casualty in the joke arsenal, especially since Australian accents are one of two geographical accents that I can NAIL.
6. "Googling yourself is a bad idea"
- Ever Googled yourself to see what results show up? I did, and the results were horrifying. So was the bit I tried to write about it. (See: dead babies = not funny.)
5. "How are these undecided voters still undecided? The choice is crystal clear: it's either Droney McBlackguy or Droney McWhiteguy--holy shit, no wonder you guys are undecided..."
- This was a joke that got heavy rotation during all the election shit. It worked once and then never worked again. It started as a criticism of undecided voters and morphed into a joke about Obama & Romney's nearly identical foreign policy (and how they both supported the use of drone warfare). Most people in the red state of Tennessee didn't seem to care about that.
4. "America: first hipster country"
- A bit about how everything is awful in America, yet many people seem to like how awful everything is. Capped with an ironic Obama joke: "Oh, France elected a socialist president? We did that in 2008, y'know, before it was cool." Much like the previous joke in the list, most people down south didn't care for that take on things.
3. "If you have a pet rabbit and want to flaunt your Civil War knowledge, name it Rabbit E. Lee."
- Another from the "Island Of Misfit Jokes" series. Most people don't know who Robert E. Lee is (general of the Confederate army during the Civil War). That's the inherent logical problem within the joke: nobody has Civil War knowledge.
2. the one where I just rant about how much I hate Ron Paul
- Couldn't get anyone onboard with this.
1. "I saw a purple Toyota Prius with the license plate: GODSRIDE. Yeah, if God was a fag! So, anyway..."
- In the dozens of times that I have told this joke, it has worked twice. When it works, it DESTROYS. It's like setting off a bomb in the room. When it doesn't work, it's like setting off a bomb in my own head.
Last night, I was a featured performer at the 2nd Annual Comedy Elite Awards Weekend at Out Front On Main in Murfreesboro, TN. For these shows, each performer was personally handpicked by the owner/booker of Out Front On Main, George W. Manus, Jr., as a way to represent the best of the best over the last year of comedy shows produced at OFOM. At the end of each night, George would then present a number of awards to selected comics for the 2012 season (with such categories as Best Male/Female Comic, Best New Comic, etc).
I was awarded Best Show of the 2012 Season for my sold-out three-night headlining run there last December, which later became my debut live comedy album entitled Unamerican (available for $5 on the MERCH
page thru 12/20). It was quite an honor, and I got a little framed certificate to boot.
Definitely a nice way to hype my next headlining weekend there on Dec 27-29. If you're near the Murfreesboro area around then, c'mon out.