Friday, December 14, 2012

Funny Friday! (part 2) Meet Travis Shepherd!

Have I mentioned yet how much I love Fridays now? Hmm... methinks I have. But it bears repeating that I freakin' love Friday now.

This guy... this guy right here that you are about to meet is one of the coolest guys I know. I first met him wayyyy way back during my brief stint with the Group That Shall Not Be Named. I could, of course, name the group. But since this is my blog, I don't have to, so there. Anyway, I first met him there and thought he was super cool way back then. Years later, when I came to join The Blacklist, I met him again, and was reminded of what an interesting and thoroughly enjoyable guy he is. He's a blast to watch onstage and he'll surprise you every time. Oh, and he JUST so happens to be one of the founding fathers of The Blacklist. Yep.

Without further ado, let me introduce to you Travis Shepherd.

me: Who are you, in your own words? (whatever that means to you)
travis: Maybe we should start with "who aren't I".  (I like this already) Well, I'm not Chilean nor Australian. I have not won nor played a chess game in over 20 years. If you've ever seen a guy on TV with Mark-Paul Gosselaar, that wasn't me. But now that I have all of that cleared up, I'm a fan of all types of music but mainly metal. I have driven as far as 12 hours away (and to another country) to see a band that I love. I'm a film buff but I hate going to the movie theatre. I love hearing stories of seemingly forgotten people from history. I like hockey and was at the Cubby Bear on Clark St. to experience the excitement of the Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup. I love to travel to aloof places like Oklahoma and North Dakota in addition to more typical vacation spots like the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I had to google aloof to make sure I used the word properly. 

(Aloof. Great word.)

me: As a kid, what did you dream of being when you grew up?
travis: As a really young kid I wanted to be everything. I think I first shared in preschool that I wanted to be a clown or a strongman at the circus. I also wanted to be an actor or a baseball player even though I really didn't care for sports. I think I wanted to be a cop. I still to this day kind of want to be a monster truck driver even though the only thing that really interests me about it is the part where they smash cars (there is actually more stuff to it than that). Up through high school I even wanted to be a broadcaster for professional wrestling. I used to love that stuff and I still love the old school matches but can't stomach it anymore. (Old school wrestling is still the best. Brutus the Barber Beefcake? Jake the Snake? Superfly? Come on!)  I still give it a try every couple of years and can never make it more than 5 minutes into a TV program. Nowadays I can't figure out if the stuff on TV changed or I did. I think wrestling changed, not me, which kind of makes me sad to think that I haven't grown up more.

(Growing up is totally overrated. I decided I'm not going to grow up. Wanna join me?)

me: When did you first learn about improv?
travis: I went to see some local improv group with a friend when I was in high school. I can't remember the name. Something about sporks. Sporks....comedy....comedy spor....yeah, I don't remember.

(Weird, I remember seeing some improv group when I was in high school. Sporks sounds close to the name...)

me: What is it that made you say 'Hey, I think I wanna do that.'?
travis: It was one of the guys of that group who came to my school and showed us some improv exercises in an acting class and asked me to audition. I was only 15 and you had to be 17 so I waited and then joined the group and was with them for over 10 years, which makes it even more awkward that I can't remember the name of it. So yeah, I was just getting into acting and stuff.

me: How long have you been doing improv?
travis: Minus the little hiatus I have taken, I guess you could say 13 years.

(You should stop hiatusing. We miss you. Just sayin'.)

me: You are one of the founding members of The Blacklist, which is amazing! What has this meant to you?
travis: To be honest, it is something I will always be proud of. (You should be! It's an amazing thing. Wait, I think I said that already.) The opportunity came at a really good time in my life when I was just transitioning back to the area after living abroad for a few years (and by abroad I mean “in Galesburg”) (Ha!). I had just had a bad experience with that other improv group I belonged to, god, I can't remember the name, (Dramedy Sporks? Was that it?) and was essentially blacklisted so it was great to have a new group to focus my energy on. Like many things in life, with something negative came a tremendous and positive opportunity that I will always be thankful for. I gained so many new friends, created a little buzz here in the Quad-Cities (Hell yeah!), and I think the Blacklist is here to stay (Damn skippy.) (with the help of the awesome dinner theatre company Circa '21). It also gave me the opportunity to coin the phrase “Founding Father” for myself, which actually isn't meant to be egotistical at all. I just see a lot of similarities between myself and John Adams who also never got enough credit for what he did, was fat, bald, easily irritated, and helped create one of the most important things ever. Come to think of it, we actually don't have much in common except for one of those characteristics...maybe two.

(I imagine you looking a bit like Hulk Hogan if you ever go bald. Haha... ahem. Sorry. Next question.)

me: What is one of the hardest things about improvisational comedy?
travis: I think it is actually just coming up with a format that people like. Sure the actual improv can get difficult and sometimes downright crappy, but overall if you have a good presentation, people are more willing to forgive and enjoy.

me: I hear you really love to play a game called "We Can Make ____ Do Anything"...

(Hahaha! Okay, so obviously I know how much you don't like that game. But we all love watching you play it! Hey, wanna play Zombie?)

me: What is one of your favorite things about doing improv? Least favorite?
travis: Most favorite would be the fact that the whole experience, at least with The Blacklist, just feels like one big party. I am actually not one of those “students of improv” that like to analyze and examine all these different aspects. I like it because it's fun. Don't get me wrong, every performer needs to continue to learn but when it comes down to it, the one thing that made me continue doing it all these years, and especially with The Blacklist, was leaving the stage and feeling like I just gained a bunch of new friends in addition to all the other friends I have made throughout the years. (One of my favorite, favorite aspects of The Blacklist. Amazing, hilarious, down to earth guys who like having a great time.) After a show I'm sweaty and typically embarrassed from all of the obscene crap I have to do in the final game but seeing the smiles on peoples faces, getting to hang out with everyone after the shows, and knowing I get to come back and do it again makes it all worth it. Least favorite...hmmm, after thinking about it I guess it's the uncertainty. Seems kinda weird since all improv is uncertain. It really goes for any theatre because it depends on the mood and the type of audience we have. Of course, once you hit the stage there is no time to think of that, so the buildup to the show can be a bit of a pain.

(We do get some of the best audiences out at our shows! And you know what they say... once you go Black(list), you always go back! Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's a saying.)

me: "I've seen those guessing games you improv people play, and you must be cheating somehow." I know we've both heard people say things like this, or that they thought we had to have some secret code. How would you explain the magic that happens in games like "Chain MurderMystery" and "Five Things"?
travis: God, I would have to think about it for a while. Basically it comes down to knowing the people you're performing with. Their mime may be horrible but pretty soon you start to understand it better and can see what they're getting at. Sometimes it is just knowing the audience and what disgusting things they will throw at you. Of course, there are times when those games have fallen so flat you're frustrated and you look to the MC and say, “Really, I was supposed to know who Patrick Dempsey is?” I think the coolest thing would be someone after the show saying, “Wow, that was so great. So how do you get those things, are you listening or does someone run out and tell you?” They honestly thought we were faking the whole thing and they still had an amazing time but once they understand it is truly improv, they are blown away.

(That has been one of my favorite aspects about improv. Getting to know your friends onstage and knowing what references will work with each individual. Guessing games are one of my very favorite!)

me: Have you ever thought of trying your hand at stand up? I could see it working...
travis: Ha. I am not much of a standup guy. I like the occasional comic and have thought about it but it's not my thing.

me: What makes The Blacklist different from other improv groups? Okay, I know we only have one other major group in the area, but the question still stands.
travis: Our performers are more bottom of the barrel? Nah, I touched on this in a previous answer but despite the formal attire that is often used for religious conversion, our show is just one big party. A lot of times we throw out the rules at the audience's demand. We are truly improv and sometimes the show has gotten so far off track it has bit us in the ass but usually we will go wherever the audience wants to be taken. Trust me, I shower in scalding hot water after every show.

(I've been there myself. Good. Lord. I have no idea where some of these people dig up these suggestions. Actually, I do, and now I think I'm gonna have to go take one of those scalding hot showers...)

me: Lincoln or JFK?
travis: You're asking a history guy this question?  (Yes!) You probably wanted a simple “one or the other” response. (Absolutely not! I know you just a little bit, Travis, and knew that this question would elicit an amazing response. And it did...) Well you ain't gonna get it. Both are overrated. JFK especially. His legacy wouldn't be nearly what it is if it wasn't for him being young, charismatic, having a beautiful family, and dying prematurely. I'm not trying to trivialize the tragedy of his death but Lyndon Baines Johnson was a far more effective president. OK, so of course he had the Vietnam War (which the Kennedy administration pushed) which is too big to count for a “mulligan” (I'm not going to google that so I'll just assume I used that term correctly)(Another great word, and prfrect usage. Bravo, sir.). Domestically, Johnson pushed for Civil Rights when others were too timid. He didn't just strengthen the social safety net but he built it with steel and lowered the poverty rate by 10 freakin' percent. So I will choose Lyndon Johnson....or Theodore Roosevelt who declared a ton of national parks, reserves, and all sorts of things that would be gone without him. He also took big business to task. Or maybe Jimmy Carter who got crapped on but came up with a lot of ideas that most people now think we probably should have followed through on (renewable energy, using war as a last resort), but won't admit it because Jimmy Carter promoted it. So I will choose those three...oh, and John Adams.

(Still need to challenge you to the Presidential Spout Off and see who can name them all off the fastest. I'm thinking it's gonna be a close one, but I'll go easy on you.)

me: What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into improv?
travis: Just do it. Stop talking and get it done.

Amen, brother. (If you just read that like Hulk Hogan you are now that much more awesome to me.)

Travis Shepherd, everyone. Crazy smart, crazy talented, crazy... uh, yep. And that's why we love him!

As always, thanks for reading! Oh, and in case you have assumed otherwise, please feel free to leave any comments or questions you have for me or Travis below. I'll be sure to forward the questions and get the responses posted back to you in a timely* fashion.


Funny Friday! (part 1) Meet Chad Errio!

Wow... I'm totally in love with Friday now. Forget about it being the start of a weekend.
Fridays are now when I get to interview amazing people. So much hilarious, so many people, so little time! That being said, until further notice I will be posting two - count 'em, TWO - blogs for Funny Friday. Eventually I may work my way up to some audio or video interviews. Exciting, right? Something to look forward to...
What am I doing? Stalling? Geez, let's get on with the amazing!
Meet Chad Errio. I first saw him doing stand up when he opened for The Blacklist (the super awesome, ever-amazing adult improv group I'm a part of... as if you didn't know!) Currently residing somewhere in the middle of Illinois, he's a real down to earth guy who's a lot of fun to watch onstage. Let's meet him, shall we?
me: Who are you, in your own words? (whatever that means to you)
chad: Who am I? Such an easy question to ask, but hard to answer without sounding like a pretentious asshole... My Twitter description says "Stand up comedian... Host of 'Three The Hard Way' podcast... Husband, father, firefighter, elected official... What else you got?!?".... So I'll just go with that. What can I say? I like to be busy. I love to make people laugh. I've always been the guy that said inappropriate things at the wrong time. But my Dad & Uncles were the same way. My family owned a bar so I kind of grew up hearing alot of things I shouldn't have.
me: As a kid, what did you dream of being when you grew up?
chad: I always wanted to be a hero. The good guy, so to speak. But even then, I imagined myself being the wisecracking cop/fireman/militarty guy... I actually joined the Army right out of High School but injured the tendons in my arm so I ended up with a Medical Discharge. I tested for the Sherriff's Department and actually was offered the position. But I turned it down when I realized cops don't get paid shit, and I'm not taking a job that requires a kevlar vest if I'm making the same amount of money as a McDonalds manager... I've been a Volunteer Firefighter for 11 years now. I'm the Training Officer and probably one of the biggest smartasses on the department. So I guess I got what I wanted.

me: When did you know you wanted to be a comedian?
chad: I was always the class clown. I knew I loved making the people around me laugh, but never thought in a million years that a kid from a town of 350 people could ever actually be a comedian. I remember listening to Smothers Brothers albums with my mom, Bill Cosby Albums with my Grandfather, and soaking in everything I overheard at the bar. I loved to laugh, but I loved to WATCH people laugh more. I kind of still do.
The first time I remember thinking, "I wish I could do that" was when I was 12 yrs old. My parents had just gotten divorced, and comedy helped cheer me up. I remember the first stand up special I saw was "Robin Williams: Live At The Met". I loved it so much I laid infront of the TV and recorded the audio onto a cassette tape. I listened to that tape every night when I went to bed. I wore it out. I thought it was amazing the way Robin Williams just went up there and just 'went off'. Because even though I was the class clown, I was actually terriblly shy. I still kind of am, but most people mistake it for being cocky or stuck up.
me: How long have you been doing stand up?
chad: I'll be doing this 3 years as of January 2013. I wish I would have started sooner. I look back and realize I was telling myself 'I want to do that' for years but then turning around and telling myself 'You could never do that.' in the same breath... I'm pissed at myself for not taking a chance when I was younger.... I finally had the balls to do something when I was laid off from work, sitting at home depressed, and realized I needed an outlet. I looked into taking some Improv classes at Second City since that was the only place I had really heard of. But I scrapped that idea when I found out the classes were like 300 bucks and you had to take 5 different classes before you actually got on stage. I needed something NOW. I ended up meeting Dave Odd at The Edge Comedy Club in Chicago. He has done more for new comics on the scene than anyone. I never would have gotten stage time starting out without him.

me: Who are some of your favorite comedians?
chad: Off the top of my head, in no particular order- Guys like Christopher Titus, Louis CK, Richard Pryor, & Bill Cosby because they talk about their lives openly & honestly. Guys like Doug Stanhope & Bill Hicks for pushing boundries & talking about whats funny to them, no matter what it is or who it may offend. Comics like Maria Bamford & Dana Gould for doing it their own way, even though I hate the term 'Alternative Comics'. Last but not least, Brett Erickson at The Jukebox Comedy Club in Peoria is one of the most naturally funny guys I know. He's an amazing host and an unbelievable local comic.

me: Describe your brand of comedy, if you can. What's funny to you?
chad: I honestly don't know what my 'brand of comedy' is... More Blue Collar if anything. I love doing shows outside of Chicago because I seem to connect with the crowds more. I think its funny making people laugh at things that they probably shouldn't laugh at. Whether that is stories about my wife & kids, or jokes regarding race or sex, I like to make people laugh at themselves for laughing at what I'm saying. I like to find that line that shouldn't be crossed and tip toe right up to it. Sometimes, I'll jump right across it... I'm honestly still trying to find my voice.

me: What does being a comedian mean to you?
chad: Being a comedian has become not just something I like to do, it's become who I am. I look at the world differently now. I honestly can't picture a future without me on a stage telling jokes somewhere. I'm still that little class clown at heart and I finally have an answer to all those teachers that asked me, "Do you think you're going to be able to find a job where you can sit around and crack jokes all day?".... Every time I look out at the crowd and see all those people staring back at me, laughing & smiling, just waiting to here what I have to say next... It's one of the greatest feelings in the world.
(I second that emotion, sir.)

me: What has been the greatest influence on your comedy?
chad: As sappy as it sounds, my wife has been an amazing influence on my comedy. She has supported me from the begining and has pushed me to be a better writer & performer. She doesn't mind being the butt of a joke, as long as its funny. She's been there with me recording my sets so I can review them later. She's honest enough to tell me what she thinks I did wrong if a bit doesn't go over just right. She's really been more of a partner in this with me than she actually realizes. She's not Yoko Ono or anything but then again, I ain't John Lennon.

me: What is one of your favorite moments (so far) as a comedian?
chad: Everyone has crazy, funny stories about things that happen on the road, but my personal favorites, oddly enough, are the train wreck moments... Those are the times I'll never forget. The night I hit a deer on the way to the comedy club- I had to change the tire on the side of the interstate, in the dark, without the correct tools, with 'deer chunks' all over the front end. I made it to the club and ranted on stage for 10 minutes about it and ended up with a decent chunk of material.... Another time I was hired for a private Xmas party. The Chief of Police was there, sitting in the front row, so while I was working the crowd I made a few jokes at his expense. He didn't seem to like that very much, so I moved on. After the show, I hung out for a bit, talked to everyone, and then left. 3 minutes down the road, I was pulled over for suspicion of DUI by the Chief of Police... You can't make this shit up! And no, I didn't get ticketed. I was totally sober. (This time)
But as far as a favorite moment on stage? Last year, I had a show in St Louis, then a night off, and then a show in Springfield. On the night off I decided to hit an open mic that was ran by a comedian I knew. When I showed up he asked me if I would do 20 at the end to close the show. Right before I went up, he said "Do as much time as you want." I ended up doing 45 min off the cuff, barely touching on my prepared set. It was the first time I had ever done anything like that. It felt awesome. It was one of the best nights I've ever had and it taught me to loosen up on stage and to just go with the flow.

me: If you weren't doing comedy, what would you be doing with your life?
chad: I'm a Union Sheetmetal Worker but the economy has been in the shitter for the last couple years and there hasn't been a lot of construction work. That's helped me with comedy because its allowed me to do more shows because I'm off a lot. But if I wasn't doing standup at all? Who knows?!? Maybe I'd take that job with the Sherriff's Dept... Apparently the only things I'm qualified for are either getting DUIs or giving them.

me: What do your friends & family think of your life as a comedian?
chad: They couldn't be more supportive! Besides my wife, my parents have been my biggest supporters. Hell, they bring their friends to shows! I've acted in a couple short films & a web series and have been doing some work as a background extra for TV . My kids think it's great. They see me on TV for 10 seconds and they love it. I'd almost do it for free just to see the smiles on their faces.

me: What is your biggest, wildest comedic dream you hope comes true some day?
chad: I would love it if I was able to do this full time and support my family. Whether its standup, acting, podcasting, or whatever. I still love to make people laugh & I love to entertain. What more could a guy ask for than to be able to do something he loves everyday? And if all that fails, there's always porn...
(Yeah, baby! Porn! I mean... ahem... moving on.)
me: Elvis or the Beatles?
chad: Elvis! (*swoon! I...)Without a doubt! ( I am a HUGE Elvis fan. (!) I've got the albums. I've got his entire discography on CD. When I got married, my wedding party was announced to a montage of Elvis songs. Over the years, other groups have been compared to and called 'The Beatles of their generation.' But there's only been one Elvis. He's the god damn king of Rock n Roll.
(So how close ARE you and your wife, because I think I have a pair of panties I'd like to toss your way... just sayin'.)

me: What advice would you give to anyone wanting to give stand up comedy a try?
chad: Just get up and do it. Stop thinking of the reasons why you can't and just find an open mic and do it. Write everyday. Even of you aren't writing anything good, you're creating something, even if its shit. And believe me, you're going to write A LOT of shit... Be on time to gigs- In fact, if you aren't at least 15 or 20 minutes early, you are still late in my opinion... Be respectful to the club owner/producer and the crowd... Remember that you WILL bomb eventually. Do I kill every night? FUCK NO. I bombed horribly at a corporate gig last weekend. It happens. Anyone who says they never bomb is full of shit. I've seen some of the best comics suck ass in front of a crowd. But when it happens, you need to learn from it, put it out of your mind, and move on to the next show... And stop saying you 'killed it' in front of 10 other comics at some open mic for 3 minutes or some bar show in front of 15 your drunk friends. A little humility goes along way in this business.... Listen to comics that have been around longer than you. Most comics are more than willing to give you their opinion about something. We're all self centered assholes. And you don't have to take their advice. I've learned just as much by learning what NOT to do by watching other comics. Most importantly, to me anyway, is to have fun doing it, BUT take this shit seriously. Almost anyone can be funny. And alot of people ARE funny. But not many of those funny people can make it in stand up comedy... If you can do all this, and be consistently funny, you can call yourself a comedian. If not, you're just the funny guy at work.

Well, spoken fella, this Chad Errio cat. If you'd like to see/hear/read more of/about him, he's got plenty of places for you to get your fix:
On Facebook - just click on his name at the beginning or the end (like that, right up there. look!)
On Twitter - @ChadErrio and @3TheHardWayCast
On Tumblr -
On Youtube - ChadErrioVideos
He's also got a short film on Vimeo titled "It's Always Cloudy"
As always, thanks for reading friends. Stay tuned next week for a new dynamic duo blogstravaganza of hilarity. Say that 5 times fast and I'll bake you a cookie.
Yes, "a" cookie. It will be epic.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Why internet dating is so hot OR Foreplaying with fire

I'm starting to think that either 1 - I've somehow managed to relocate to whatever part of the world is still on Tuesday while the Midwest is on Wednesday or 2 - I should move Taco Tuesday to Wednesday, because for the life of me I can't seem to consistently get this thing done before the wee hours of TueWednesday. Oh well, I'll just keep on going like nothing's wrong. I'll just pretend it's right on time. Yeah, that's it.

It's Taco Tuesday everyone! Your journey thus far...

     You've travelled with me through the Gingivitis Gardens, beyond the felonious Ice Cream     tundra, slipped silently passed the Mouth Breathing ogre, swashbuckled your way through bands of larping gypsy sword fighters, and - most recently - managed to escape the watchful eyes of the Cave-dwelling Bogeys.

     Where will you go next?

"... a sexual pyromaniac beast." (SPB, from here on out)

Ah, but of course.

As you can guess, I met SPB on a singles site. Plentyoffish, to be precise. While the site does have plenty of fish, it doesn't warn you up front that many of the fish are of this variety:

Not that there's anything wrong with the above fish. Just that, well, there is someone, somewhere, perhaps hiding out in a bomb shelter or some sort of hobbit hole, that would love them just as they are. I don't mean to say that SPB was like one of those fish up there, but he was... interesting. I ran across his profile during the period of my dating life when I decided that I needed to lower the bar and give every guy a fair chance.
I like to call it The Dark Ages.
He wasn't the typical guy I would have gone for. Not that I have a physical typical in mind, because I really don't. But even without an ideal he still was nowhere in the ballpark. But I actually took the time to read his profile, and he seemed like a not bad fella. Worked in the healthcare field with Alzheimer's patients. That takes heart and dedication right there. That counts for something, right? He seemed nice over chat/email, and I figured what the hell. We agreed to meet up at a local bar for a face-to-face meet and greet. It wasn't a big deal or anything. Besides, what did I have to lose?
Apparently the first few layers of my chest flesh.
On the way to our "date" we were texting little niceties when he mentioned something completely random. I'm pretty sure it was random. Had to have been. We must have been exchanging more tidbits about each other or something, but the subject of foreplay came up. Eesh! Yeah, I usually don't bring these things up until at least... well, at least not on the first date. He was talking about what he liked - a little rough this and that (totally not me, and I'm pretty sure I mentioned that) - and then he brought out the big gun.
His pièce de résistance? Chicks dig fire as foreplay. To which I promptly responded with a "what?!?"
"Oh yeah", he said. "You just spray a little Aqua Net across their chest and light it up and chicks get hot."
"Sorry, not this chick."
I'm pretty sure he tried to further convince me about the awesomeness of searing my flesh for pleasure, but he was never gonna win that battle. I like my breasts skin graft-free, thank you.
After that incredibly telling revelation, I walked into the bar to meet up with SPB. Yeah... still not entirely sure why I just didn't run far, far away. I guess because since he already had my number I figured a nice, diplomatic "ooo, sorey, but we're just not a love connection" would be best.
A few drinks and some light chitchat later proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that there in fact definitely was no love connection. Not even a like connection, really. A nice enough fella, just - again - not the guy for me. There was another memorable incident that night. You know, other than the near threat of dousing me in 80's frump spray and torching my lady bits. The subject of tattoos came up, and this tall, rather... corpulent fellow proceeded to not just lift up but remove his shirt at the bar to show his collection. They were a mishmash of what looked like prison tats. Done by epipleptics. And they were everywhere across his... generous helping of plump torso flesh.
Why yes, hometown bar where I spent nearly every Monday night for a year doing karaoke, this was my date for the evening. Score!
After that night we exchanged a few more texts and had a few convos but that was the last time I saw him. I think he got engaged or married in the last few years? To which I say Aqua Net just secured itself another lifetime customer.
Whew... and that was that.
You know, it's hilarious actually reliving these stories in detail. It really brings to light my absolutely unrivaled ability to make some of the worst decisions known to man. Entertaining as hell, though. And that, my friends, makes all the difference.
What is one of the most unsual dating experiences you have ever had? Was it in public or private? Did you escape unscathed or did it leave you with something to remember it by? I can't wait to hear about it!
As always, thanks for reading...
NEXT TIME on TACO TUESDAY: More larping! More fire! More...clowns? OR I think there's a pill for this, or at least there should be.*
(*blog title subject to change if I ever figure out how the hell to sum up this next guy)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Funny Friday! Meet Jake Vevera!

Today is the day, people. The first official installment of Funny Friday. I got a resounding response from my funny, funny friends and have really got my work cut out for me.

***I don't know why, but I feel the need to let you all know that none of my interviews, be they audio, video, or text, will be edited in any way. They will appear in their raw form, just as they were given to me. Some may be more graphic than others, and that's just life. So enjoy these peaks into the minds of some amazingly creative and hilarious men and women.***

Today you are all in for an earful from a wild and crazy man with some of the most unique views on life and all things thereunto pertaining. I met him several months ago through my circle of comedian friends and he never ceases to amaze me. He is truly and undeniably unique. He speaks his mind with brutal, unabashed honesty and he is never at a loss for words. But enough of my words. Let's hear from him.

Meet Jake Vevera, everyone.

me: Who are you, in your own words? (whatevever that means to you)
jake: I'm a shallow fuck, I define myself by whatever other people tell me I am.

me: As a kid, what did you dream of being when you grew up?
jake: I don't remember my dreams.

me: When did you know you wanted to be a comedian?
jake: I don't want to be a comedian.

(At this point in the questioning, I'm beginning to think I'm a horrible question asker...)

me: How long have you been doing stand up?
jake: Since last October.

me: Who are some of your favorite comedians?
jake: Doug Stanhope, Sam Kinison, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Bill Hicks.

me: Describe your brand of comedy, if you can. What's funny to you? (this is where it gets amazing)
jake: I like dark stuff. I think that if you're telling jokes on stage you are a chef of life. It's cool to make chicken taste good, but if you can make shit and maggots taste better than chicken, then it's way better than the pussies who cook with chicken. And since nothing I say on stage matters after I close my set, then I can say whatever shitty things I want and it's okay.

me: What does being a comedian mean to you?
jake: This...

me: What has been the greatest influence on your comedy?
jake: Seeing bad things happen to good people. There's a certain kind of surreal joy I get out of seeing something on the news that has gone terribly wrong. Not because I actually like to see people being hurt. I just like seeing people's reactions to it. I like seeing people upset over things on the tv that don't have any effect on their day to day lives. All of those things on the news could be taken out of context in a weird way, or complete lies and they would never know it. Even if the things they were upset about were true, it wouldn't matter to them if the people on the news weren't telling them. Did they hear about any one of the kids that starved to death or were sold into some kind of weird soldier and/or sex slave organizations in some African shithole that they couldn't point to on a map if they had a gun to their balls? No. But most of them could tell you all about the guy on the Chiefs who killed his wife last week. They could tell you about Trayvon Martin. They could tell you about Ronald McDonald going apeshit in that movie theater. Not because it is somehow more important or more tragic, but because that's what the guys behind the anchor desk (who they've never met) tell them that's what they should care about. Nothing happening to anyone is really that important unless you know them. We're all just monkeys that jumped out of some lady's twat a long time ago and nothing that happens to us really matters to anyone we don't come in contact with. But, since lots of people do get upset about the things the news tells them to, it builds tension. I can use that tension in my act. You build tension and then you add a twist and a punch line. That's why seeing bad things happen to good people inspires me. It's my shit for the sandwich.

(Wow... did I tell ya or did I tell ya? Amazing.)

me: What is one of your favorite memories (so far) as a comedian?
jake: Closing my CD. I wrote my closer the night before the CD and put it on a bit that I had only done a couple times and bombed with. It went really well though. There's very few bits of mine that I am truly proud of, but that's one of them.

(Jake recently recorded his first CD, "Balls Deep in Jesus" in Iowa City. Look for it to be coming out in the next couple of months.)

me: If you weren't doing comedy, what would you be doing with your life?
jake: Spreading herpes. Comedy keeps me off of the streets.

(Funny AND a humanitarian. The total package.)

me: What do your friends & family think of your life as a comedian?
jake: Ask me when I start getting paid.

me: What is your biggest, wildest comedic dream you hope comes true someday?
jake: Getting paid money to do it.

me: Elvis or the Beatles?
jake: Beatles... Yoko years.'watch?v=SYqCpvzXGTE

(I would be a total panty-tosser over Elvis, but I also love the Beatles, and this is my interview, so I get to ask what I want.)

me: What advice would you give to anyone wanting to give stand up comedy a try?
jake: I stole this first part from Doug Stanhope: Take any advice that any comic gives you with a grain of salt because at the end of the day, there are no set rules for this and they are ultimately telling you how to be more like them. Be open to advice and give things a try if you think that they might work for you. That being said, here are some things I found useful when first starting out: Keep your setup times short. People watch a lot of specials on Netflix, Comedy Central, etc, and they don't think about the fact that those guys have usually have at least a half hour to work with. You've got three to five minutes. Try not to say more than three sentences without throwing a punchline after them. Also, fuck personal stories. I'm not saying they never work, but they usually take a long time to set up and people don't realize right away that some things are only funny with a personal connection. Which you don't have on stage.

Also, look for my new CD "Balls Deep in Jesus". Many Christians claim to love Jesus, but few of them have gone balls deep. I don't believe in fairy tales, but I still pick up their slack.

Jake Vevera.

Amazing guy, You must see him to truly appreciate the intelligence, wit, and insanity that is his comedy. Brilliant. Thanks so much, Jake! I don't know about you, but this was a great first interview for me. If I smoked, I'd be kicked back, spent, and smokin' this one out.

Stay tuned for next Friday! Another amazing comedian, and more amazing me! (Wait, did I say that out loud?)