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Inside The Mind of a Comedian 2.0

StandUpYou do it out of love.

There is no other reason to become a comedian. No other reason to drive the countless hours in your car, a toilet paper “manpon” wedged in your ass crack to catch sweat the best it can.

(Truckers may be the assholes of the highway, but they do hold certain wisdom)

You arrive at the hotel to find there is no reservation in your name. Why? The comedy club has double-booked comedians, meaning they scheduled two comedians for the same week in the same slot. Unfortunately for you, the other one checked in first. You shake your head and roll your eyes, not understanding how double booking happens; ever go to a football game to discover three teams have shown up to play? No. When the NFL sets their schedule, it’s two teams per stadium. Yet somehow, booking two comedians for the same slot happens more than it should in the world of stand up.

Things eventually get worked out—“you’ll share the week!”—and you make your way to your room. Though January weather is pounding the Midwest city you’re in, it is colder in the room than outside the building. Oh well, at least you weren’t sent packing.

Might as well shower, get some steam going. A pungent rusty waterfall exits the faucet as the pipes bleed free a confession of their rarity of use.

Let it run; things will work themselves out.

(Would that it were this easy in life)

Water goes clear, lift the tab to start the shower. An over-calcified nozzle shoots streams everywhere, like a penis with a morning-after-sex cum clot sending hot piss to the floor, not the intended target.

(That’s what happens, ladies, it’s not our fault)

Showtime arrives; the crowd looks nice. You take the stage and wave after wave of smoke hits, chokes you, and gives you images of coal miner’s black lung. Why some Goddamn states still allow spoking makes no sense, but what can you do? It’s either this gig, or an empty date on your calendar.

You inform the audience, “If Madonna can say ‘a cigarette is a disgusting thing to put in your mouth,’ and she’s had Dennis Rodman’s rod in hers, that tells you a thing or two about how awful smoking is.” They laugh, but don’t extinguish their cancer sticks.

For the entire time you’re on stage, you smile a genuine smile. It’s somewhat meditative, empowering and relaxing at the same time; audience laughter sounding like a chant, “Ohm…”

The show ends, so you head to the door and shake hands as the audience shuffles past. Eventually, an overweight white guy with a beard and confederate hat offers a racist joke.

“You can use that in your act!” he suggests, laughing.

You force a smile through gritted teeth and wonder what the hell went so wrong in the person’s life that they thought it appropriate to approach you with such hate.

Head back to the room; it’s still cold, but at least now you smell like an ashtray. Like any drug, the stage is a high that offers little in the way of lasting effect. The alone becomes palpable.

Turn on the television and Queen Latifah is on Letterman, the pinnacle of all talk shows and your dream. A dream growing ever further out of reach with his retirement approaching at breakneck speed.

The Queen says she likes skydiving; your mind immediately spits out a zinger: “That’s brave, trusting a parachute to hold that much weight. Then again, the army drops tanks out of planes.”

Fair, but nowhere near funny enough for an audience.

Oh well.

You do it out of love.


You can read more of nathan’s nonsense on his website.


Live Comedy: Week of April 20

StandUpThe weekend, it’s for giggling.

Get out of the house and support live stand up comedy.

You know you want to.

From Ann Arbor MI to Akron adjacent Cuyahoga Falls OH, there’s something for everyone.

Well, something for everyone near the 5 venues and comedians being promoted this week.

But there’s probably live comedy near you!

Go see it!

BonnerKulow tabari tomJanetimu

Stand Up Shots: April 22

StandUpIt’s Wednesday, which means fast and funny giggles for you.

Spread the wealth, share the word, and follow the funny people on Twitter.

(And check back every Wednesday for more giggles)

(And check here every week for more comedy posts on the Rooftop blog)

The Woodshed

StandUpIt’s amazing how something obvious can take you by complete surprise.

When the Foo Fighters arrived in 1995, I was as stunned as anyone. Here was the drummer from Nirvana fronting a band. Not only was he fronting it, he played all the instruments on the debut album, having written every song. And those songs were pretty fucking awesome.

Jaws were agape; minds were blown.

The. Drummer.

I didn’t give much thought to Dave Grohl’s backstory; most people assumed he watched Cobain write great songs and learned how to write himself.

Which is only partially true.

Nirvana was his university, but his life before that was a 24/7 path to success. Watching the TV series Sonic Highways, a discovery was made: Dave Grohl wasn’t just a drummer. Since childhood, he had been playing guitar and composing. Dave described owning two cassette players; he would hit record on one, and play guitar. He would then rewind the tape, and hit play while simultaneously hitting record on the other. Dave would then sing along to the guitar, creating a two-track recording.

Basically, Dave Grohl has been writing songs his whole life.

While on tour with Nirvana, he would sit in his hotel and work out the melodies and ideas bouncing around his brain. At tour’s end, he would go to a friend’s studio and record those songs, building up an inventory. By the time Nirvana was no more, a backlog of over 40 songs existed. Dave Grohl was constantly putting in his Malcolm Gladwell 10,000 hours.

As a comedian, I look at success stories like that with crossed fingers, hope, and resolve.

My “career” in stand up comedy began when I was in the neighborhood of six years old, at Interlochen summer camp in the mitten-shaped state of Michigan. For the talent show, I donned a paper bag and did a set as The Unknown Comic. He was someone I had seen on Laugh In and The Gong Show. I was too shy to show my face, and didn’t yet understand the concept of thievery—I probably thought taking his shtick was OK because I was a kid. In my defense, I did perform original material, making fun of the counselors, and camp food. I did well, too, because I was talking about things the other campers could relate to.

From that moment forward, I was interested in comedy. I spent my time listening to George Carlin albums and seeing Richard Pryor stand-up movies. In school, I was a gifted class clown, with smartass remarks rolling off my tongue with ease. Years later, when I started down the path as a professional stand up, I went to the local comedy club every week to watch every person gracing the stage. I went to as many open microphones as possible, and comedy was nothing short of an obsession.

To this day, I hope I’m always learning. I watch every comic I work with. Sometimes I learn, sometimes I judge. It is what it is. But I’m always putting in the effort, always trying to refine and better my act. I’m putting in the hours, and working toward originality and funny.

If—or when, if I’m trying to be positive—I get an opportunity, I want to be able to take hold and not let go. Just like Dave Grohl did.

Do I think I’ll achieve his kind of greatness? I don’t want to answer in the negative, but I’m not cocky enough to answer in the positive.

But either way, I think I’m on the right path.

And I think that’s important.


Nathan Timmel likes to write.

You can read his weekly scribblings on his website.

Live Comedy: Week of April 13

StandUpYou know it: live comedy is the best thing you can do with your weekend. Get off the couch, get outa the house, giggle.

Alvin Williams, Beth Stelling, Johnny Beehner, and Nick Griffin all have CDs at the Rooftop Store.  You can go download them. Right now! Really! Nathan Timmel blogs, podcasts, and posts more videos than you can shake a stick at.

(He’s even written a few books)

If they’re not performing at the club near you, request them.

(And then get out of the house and go see the comedian in your neck of the woods. Go. Now!)







Stand Up Shots: April 15

Adam Newman Interview

Adam Newman is on fire. In the past few years he has:

  • Appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman
  • Had a Comedy Central Half Hour Special
  • Appeared on John Oliver’s New York Stand Up Show
  • Appeared on Gotham Comedy Live
  • Toured these last few months with Bo Burnham

Now Adam has released his latest CD, Killed, on the Rooftop label.

Nathan Timmel fired off these questions about the disc.


NT: Your disc contains several bonus tracks; were these recorded in the same show and edited out, or another show and you couldn’t find a home for them, but wanted the material on the disc?

AN: Everything on this album was recorded over a week of shows at ACME Comedy Co. in Minneapolis. The bonus tracks are things that I wanted to include on the record, but I didn’t think fit into the flow of the “set.”

NT: How many shows were recorded for this particular disc?

AN: I recorded six shows, but used one set for about 80% of the record. Stumbles, hecklers, delivery, and crowd response determined whether I would sub in a version from another show. Recording a bunch of shows takes the pressure off nailing it all in one take, but as you can hear on the record, I still kept some rough stuff in because, sometimes, the real-er, the better.

NT: How long did it take you to write the material?

AN: One day.

NT: The Jetsons… My God, things we’ve never even thought of. How did you stumble upon that? Just as described? Farting around online? How do you think something like that makes it past the creators, or do you think the ages were a dark joke by them?

AN: Exactly as described. Just playing around on Wikipedia and doing a little math. I doubt the creators gave it a second thought. But who knows, maybe they’re all a bunch of pervs.

NT: You discuss your childhood/relationship with your father in a joke about Fenway Park. Comedians are notorious for having “issues” that lead them to the stage. Would you say that about your own path to stand up?

AN: I had a very nice childhood. I just think my parents are silly and I like to talk about them. The good news is, so far they like it.

NT: You do say your parents are supportive of your career, and in fact come see you often. You talk about censoring yourself in front of them; what is the determining factor of a joke you will or will not do in front of your parents?

AN: Well it used to be that if a joke was about a girl barfing on my dick, I wouldn’t do it in front of my parents. But now that I have, I guess all bets are off.

NT: On the disc, you sound like a fan of audience interaction; constant questions, a little back-and-forth. Do you enjoy participation? Does it ever get out of control, or something less-than-fun?

AN: Yes, yes, and yes. But it also makes every show a little different and interesting, so I think it’s worth it.

Download Killed from the Rooftop store.

Live Comedy: Week of April 6

StandUpSo many good things happening this week…

For previews of what’s available, check out Dave Landau, Tiffany Norton, Bengt Washburn, and Nathan Timmel right here on Rooftop.

Like Nato Green?

His CD is available for download at the Rooftop Store.

Go take a listen, then get out of the house and support live comedy!

If you don’t, the terrorists have won.

(Do people still say that? They should. Because, you know.  ‘Merica.)






Stand Up Shots: April 8

StandUpThat’s right, it’s Wednesday.

Rooftop brings you quick giggles, right on your laptop or desktop.

(Still working on that mobile friendly version, though.)

Follow everyone on Twitter, support live stand up comedy, and be merry.

Because that’s much better than being grumpy, especially at work, ya grumpy bastard.


Live Comedy: Week of March 30

StandUpHere’s who’s where this weekend!

Get off the couch, get out of the house, get to a comedy venue!

Watch Dale Jones, Ella Gale, and Nathan Timmel here on Rooftop, and buy Dat Phan’s CD from our store.

And if these performers aren’t in your neck of the woods, go support your local comedy club.

Remember: laughter has been medically proven to improve health, so stop popping pills and go have a giggle.

You’ll feel better.






Me Milwaukee