Roundup: August 2017

Hey there friends. This is a monthly overview I try to maintain to let anyone who may be interested get a general look at what I've been up to, career-wise. Probably more significantly, it serves the purpose of reminding me what I've been up to, since I have the long term memory of an amnesic goldfish.


Early in the month I did a couple more shows with the Music Improv NighT at MCL Chicago. That's an ongoing project through November that has been a lot of laughs so far - I should really write a full post on that experience soon. You can check out the shows every Wednesday at MCL! I also continued doing shows with Dinner Detective at both their Schaumburg and Chicago locations, and I'm very grateful for how welcoming that cast has been!

Friend Dog Studios got back to posting patreon-supported content; the first two (out of three) installments of a really dumb video series called Making a Masterpiece have gone up this month. Those have been a bonkers but rewarding challenge for me to work on and you can read more about 'em here and here.


On August 9th I booked a last minute commercial job for a startup called Lystr. I believe the video will be used for crowdfunding purposes so I'll keep my eye out for it on their social media. The gadget they're producing is basically an automated shopping-list manager you keep in your kitchen, and it was actually pretty neat. I probably should have asked for one. I drive a hard bargain, by which I mean bargaining is hard and I...drive.

Mid-month I popped back into Kansas City (I can't seem to stay away for more than about 6 weeks) to check a few different things off my list. First I headed over to Hallmark HQ to record some character voice over for a couple of upcoming Christmas products. The staff there is always fun to be around; it was a pleasure to hang out with them and voice a goofy snowman for a bit. Unfortunately, I'll have to wait till 2018 to see the finished products. Damn.

An older picture of me shooting a piece with ej4.

An older picture of me shooting a piece with ej4.

While in KC, I also performed with the KC improv festival (which I wrote all about here), helped run auditions for my upcoming Christmas musical, and shot a few corporate training vids with a cool company called EJ4. Essentially, it's presenter work were an actor (hey, that's me!) reads off a teleprompter while an operator manipulates graphics through a green-screen interface. I've been working with them off and on for a couple of years now, and was happy they agreed to roll with my schedule while I was in town.

Work is getting more earnest on my two major writing projects. The Second City sketch show I'm working on with Brian Huther, Michelle Leatherby, and Molly Kessler now has both a director (Heather Bodie) and a title! The Young and The Precious will go up at The Blackout Cabaret for a total of four performances; 9/15 and 9/22 at 7:30pm, then 10/6 and 10/13 at 9:00pm. This is far from my first experience with sketch, but it's definitely my first go-around with sketch in Chicago, and I'm eager to see what's in store for me to learn and discover.


My other writing project, a new Christmas musical set to premiere this December at The Living Room Theatre in KC, is also making progress! We now have a director and are close to having a full cast - though I'm not sure I'm allowed to announce them publicly yet. We still need to pick a title. Right now the two main contenders are Selling Christmas or The War on Christmas. Which do you like better? I mean, you don't know what it's about, but arguably, neither do I, so. Lemme know.

July 2017, a Roundup

This month I returned to Chicago to hit the pavement. The refreshingly mild summer has been a perfect backdrop for auditions, comedy shows, and meeting new and exciting artists all over the city.

On July 8th I joined the local cast of Dinner Detective, which I wrote about in a previous blog post. Looking forward to getting into the flow with the rest of the company over the next few weeks!

Brian and I got back to performing improv as Dog & Friend Dog; a truly welcome experience after a 9 month hiatus (!) from improvising as a duo. Thanks to The Hymn Brothers at The Bug House and the producers of Nite Brunch at The Playground Theater for having us over to shake the dust off and get back to the simple pleasures of makin' stuff up. We also (individually) joined the cast of Musical Improv Night (or "MINT") for their new season! Performances by this large collective will be Wednesday nights at 7:30 at MCL Chicago through November 15th. More info is available here, and I plan on writing another blog post about the experience once it gets rolling.

Logo for The Bughouse Theatre

Logo for The Bughouse Theatre

Work began in earnest for a couple of future productions as well. I'm pleased to announce that Brian and I are teaming up with Chicago comedians Michelle Leatherby and Molly Kessler to write and perform a (yet unnamed) sketch show in The Blackout Cabaret at Second City! Shows will be 9/15 and 9/22 at 7:30pm, then 10/6 and 10/13 at 9:00pm. I'll definitely write an update when we get closer. I'm also thrilled to announce that Friend Dog Studios is partnering up once again with our friend Ryan McCall to create our second musical; a (also yet unnamed) Christmas show that's set to premiere THIS December at The Living Room Theatre in Kansas City! You can read all about our previous musical venture here. More info on that as soon as we...um...write it. Boy I'd better get to work.

May - June 2017, A Roundup

As my time in Kansas City comes to an end and I prepare to return to Chicago, I thought I'd do a quick overview of some of what I've been up to while I was here. I've already written blog posts about some of them, so I'll link to those rather than exposit any further on them here.

The reason for my visit to KC has been to oversee and promote the world premiere production of the musical I co-wrote, The Ballad of Lefty & Crabbe. As I write this, we've just closed, and while I'm a little heartbroken at seeing it have to go, I'm immeasurably grateful for the experience. You can read all about that at my previous blog post here. I had the opportunity to do a few press appearances for the show - including a profile interview with my writing partners for KC Metropolis which you can read here; thanks to Victor Wishna for putting that together! I also made a few radio appearances, guest hosting The Jonathon Weir Show on 98.1 FM (episode here), and doing interviews on Kansas Public Radio and KKFI (listen here). I self-recorded a radio spot for the show that ran on KKFI as well, which I've posted below. 

While Lefty & Crabbe was my primary focus, I did have some time to venture into a few other performances and appearances. For instance, I participated in a fascinating dissection of Hamlet’s soliloquies with director Ian Wooldridge, which I’ve already written about here. I also participated in a "TLR Talk" - an interview series which is part of The Living Room Theatre's education program, highlighting the work of various actors and writers associated with the theatre. Seth Macchi, Brian Huther, and I sat down with host Rusty Sneary for what turned into almost three full hours of discussion on comedy, collaboration, going viral, and what it takes to keep creating.

Rusty Sneary, Seth Macchi, Brian Huther, and myself at "TLR Talks with Friend Dog Studios"

Rusty Sneary, Seth Macchi, Brian Huther, and myself at "TLR Talks with Friend Dog Studios"

On May 15th I returned to the Dinner Detective Kansas City to play detective in what turned out to be an exceptionally fun night with a great crowd. "DD" is a franchised murder mystery dinner theatre show, and I've been a part of the Kansas City cast since this branch opened some three years ago. In fact, I think I may be the only original company member still on the roster. I still like to book a show or two with them whenever I'm in town, and will be interviewing for a position with the Chicago branch soon. The show is loose-script, audience interactive, and more silly comedy routine than heavy costume drama. As an actor and improvisor, it's something I've always enjoyed.

Ashley Osborn and I in a duo set at The Kick Comedy Theatre.

Ashley Osborn and I in a duo set at The Kick Comedy Theatre.

I also got to play a couple of shows at my former stomping grounds The Kick Comedy Theatre! The KC Improv Company kindly invited me to return for a couple of guest spots, one being Presto! An Improvised Musical, which is, well, exactly what it sounds like. These are always tremendously fun and usually outrageously weird - this set being no exception. We started with some short form before moving to the music. Video of that show can be found here. My second appearance was a duo set with current Artistic Director of the KC Improv Company, Ashley Osborn! I gotta tell ya, that set was one of my favorites. Nothing complicated, nothing intense, nothing that even made a whole lot of sense, just a giddy time bouncing ideas off a skilled and seasoned improviser. Video of that set is here (starts at 37:20)

I made guest appearances on a couple of comedy podcasts, which was a lot of fun as well. The first is brand new podcast venture from Yes, Co - an improv training startup by my friends and comedy pros Jamie Campbell and Michael Foster! I don't believe the show has premiered yet, but when it does I hope I remember to come back to this post and add a link. The second podcast was Don't Take Out Word For It, a hilarious show about the general anxieties of existence hosted by comedians Havana Mahoney & Anna Smith. I make an appearance as myself (and then William Shakespeare) on Episode 16: Juices For Miles.

And finally, I had a go at one of my first large-scale live streaming gigs as part of an ongoing partnership with trivia company Did You Know! My writing partner Brian Huther and I co-hosted a live quiz show on their facebook page - a first attempt which turned out to be a genuine blast! You can see the video here.

There's so much more to tell about various projects that I've started in on in the last couple of months - but it's too early to delve into details, so I'll say tata for now! See you in Chicago!