MDRT – Nick Nunns

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Often something insipid like the following will trickle out of my mouth: “Yeah, in Colorado, beer is like a total culture! There’s, like, a legit beer scene going on and stuff! It’s pretty impressive.” Then, inevitably, the person that I’m talking too will have follow-up questions like, “Oh yeah, how’s that?” And then I mutter something about tasting rooms, and IPA’s and like, how it’s so popular and stuff. Then they walk away disappointed. Often they’ll spit or hiss at me too. It’s quite rude of them. And hostile.

But I get it.

Because while I know the sentiment behind my statement is sound, my expertise is far from it. My heart is in the right place, but my PR work lacks efficacy. What a relief then to get someone on the podcast who knows what the fuck they’re talking about when it comes to beer. Now, when I want to talk a big craft-beer game, I can just point to this episode and say, “I may not really know what I’m talking about, but my man Nick Nunns does – so listen to the episode of my podcast I did with him.” Then, hopefully, that person will immediately excuse themselves from our conversation to go listen to an hour long podcast and realize that I’m not as ignorant as they think I am. Or, at least, Nick Nunns isn’t.

Yes, it’s that Nick Nunns. The man behind TRVE Brewing, the beloved sponsor of this very podcast and my favorite craft-brewery in the world. Yes the same TRVE brewery behind all the cool art and satanic iconography like this:

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From the very first time I went to TRVE I was in love with the place and once I started sampling their wares with a little consistency – especially those sours that sing their siren song all the way down my throat – I knew I had found my favorite bar. I try to go to TRVE whenever I’m home. I tell beer-snobs about TRVE. I send people visiting Denver there. And not just because they sponsor my podcast. Because I love them. That’s why I asked them to sponsor my podcast. It wasn’t the other way around. And when I did Nick was like, “Yeah, why not?” And then I fell in love with TRVE even more. So I asked Nick, on the spot, straight the fuck up, “Will you be my dad?” And he was like, “Too far, Adam, too far.”

But he did agree to be my buddy. And I’ll take it. So sit back and crack a TRVE beer if you got it, then listen to me and my buddy Nick talk about the amazing craft-beer scene exploding in our fair city, our fair state, indeed all over the country right now. And be happy that someone who is not only immersed in it, but in fact, deeply influencing it – though he’d never take credit for it – is sitting down at the Dining Room Table. Someone who knows what they’re talking about.

Then watch Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden. Because Nick wanted you to.

Check out the episode on iTunes here.

MDRT – Brooks Wheelan

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Well would you get a look at this dreamboat?! It’s Brooks Wheelan! Brooks Wheelan of former-SNL fame! Brooks Wheelan who is probably the only comic out there better on Instagram than me. YEAH I SAID IT, HOMEBOY PROBABLY HAS MORE GAME THAN, ME BUT AFTER HIM IT’S ME AND AFTER ME IT’S A DISTANT, DISTANT FUCKING THIRD. Brooks Wheelan the guy who is fast becoming one of my favorite comics to watch because he’s just so damn effortlessly funny.

Brooks stopped through Denver to play Comedy Works and I managed to snag him for a bit of one-on-one time in his hotel room before he ran down the street and hopped on stage. And I’m glad I did. Because I didn’t really know Brooks all that well before. Indeed, this is the longest the two of us have ever sat down and chatted but, man, I feel like this conversation could have gone on for hours. Brooks is the type of guy who seems genuinely excited by life and that’s such a rare treat in the cynical world of comics where everything sucks and everything is bitched about. Don’t get me wrong, I’m always down to have those types of conversations –  am probably guilty of turning the conversation that way more often than not – so it’s such a joy to chat with someone like Brooks who is just bursting to tell you about all the many things they’re excited about: comedy, traveling, books about old explorers, why you should always rent a car on the road. I couldn’t have enjoyed this conversation with Brooks more and I sure hope you enjoy listening to it. And if you haven’t seen Brooks in person, go out and do it. You’ll thank me. And him.

And Jesus. And then me again.

Brooks wanted you to watch this video. Rod Stewart getting REAL sexy.

Check out the episode on iTunes here.

MDRT – Nathaniel Rateliff

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I’ve been trying to get Nathaniel Rateliff on my podcast forever. And by forever, I mean since the podcast began. Which was almost exactly two years ago. Which is forever given modern-day attention spans. So forever.

Okay. I’m done qualifying my previous statement.

But unfortunately Nathaniel’s never been able to do the podcast.

“Shoot! Not in town, then,” his text will typically read in reply to my request. “Another time!”

That’s been our game for two years now. That’s how in demand Nathaniel is. He is constantly traveling. Constantly performing. Constantly earning amazing accolades, news of which trickles back to Denver, and every time I’m blown away by it.

Robert Plant said what about Nathaniel Rateliff? Nathaniel performed with Elvis Costello where?

Not that these feats surprised me – Nathaniel is one of the most talented singer-songwriters I’ve ever met in person – but I was always floored that these accolades were being accomplished by the dude that lived down the street. The guy who I run into at the Hi Dive. The guy who I used to watch fronting “Born in the Flood.” It’s always astonished me that this guy has this amazing career and yet still chooses to call the red brick of our Baker neighborhood home, to make his way in the world out of our fair little Denver.

Sound familiar?

Of course it does. It’s something I’ve been trying to do for awhile now. And something I find myself talking about quite often, more now than ever before. Who knew just trying to make art from your backyard could become such an ethos? Well, Nathaniel does, for one. So what a delight to finally get Nathaniel to make his way over to My Dining Room Table for a good old fashioned chat. If you’re a fan of Nathaniel, I think you’ll really enjoy this talk. If you’ve never heard of him, meet your new favorite musician.

Nathaniel wanted you to watch this video. It rules.

Check out the episode on iTunes here

MDRT – Kristin Rand

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Well, Los Angeles, get ready. Here comes Kristin Rand. A stalwart of the Denver comedy scene – from stand-up to sketch and back again – Kristin got to town and immediately started tearing it up. And while she may have fallen into some of the trappings of the young, open-micer, it strikes me that she left those behind more quickly than usual. It seemed like I would see Kristin Rand doing stand-up and I’d be like, “Yup, funny stuff, there’s Kristin Rand being a good comic.” Then suddenly I saw Kristin Rand and it was like, “Oh wow. When did Kristin figure out her voice?”

She’d be the first to tell you she’s still figuring it out but Kristin is simply a natural. And she deserves all the things she has coming her way.

I’m glad I got her to sit down for the official MDRT Exit Interview before she packs up her belongings and heads west, young man, to make her name and fortune.

A brief anecdote: the day after we recorded this episode we filmed a sketch video, myself, the Grawlix and the Nix Brothers. It’s a sketch about horrible dentists called, “Pulling Teeth.” Kristin played the secretary at the office and there was a scene that she improvised where she’s singing the hold music for the office. Like customers on the phone think that they’re on hold but really it’s just Kristin singing the music. It was her idea. Then she’d abruptly stop singing and say,

“Thank you for holding. How may I direct your call? Actually, what did you think of the hold music? How would you rate it on a scale from one of ten? You know what, I’m going to have to put you on hold again.”

Then she’d just start singing again. She sang cheesy 90’s R&B shit, she broke out Four Non Blondes, she just kept nailing take after take after take. The whole set was crying laughing. It was one of those moments where you have to hold your breath so you don’t fuck up the take. All of us were literally grabbing our sides, trying not to fuck up her hilarious improv. Fortunately we didn’t. And I remember thinking as I watched Kristin do that, “Yeah. This one is ready.” Like some sort of weird, proud parent who had absolutely nothing to do with it. But it made me happy regardless.

So happy trails, Kristin Rand! Don’t be a stranger now, y’hear?

Kristin wanted you to watch this music video by Beyonce. Because of course she did.

Check out the episode on iTunes here.

 

The Feature’s Bible

Feature’s Bible

Congratulations! You’re a Feature now!

You’ve climbed your way up the comedy ladder all the way to feature comedian, a choice spot in stand-up comedy where you get to perform 25-30 minutes of comedy before the headliner takes the stage! Great work, amigo! But don’t get cocky. There’s a lot of great feature acts out there, mostly in the form of sad, mid-western men living out of their cars, and if you want to compete with these men, you’re going to have to beat them at their own game. With that in mind, I’ve compiled the following advice based off of what I’ve witnessed from the many features that have crossed my path.

By sticking to this Feature’s Bible, and never, ever straying from the path – especially not to write new material – you’ll be able to feature deep into your fifties, hell maybe even into your sixties, with a routine you can set your watch to, provided you don’t have to eventually sell your watch to pay alimony. Which you will.

GREEN ROOM DECORUM

1. It’s important to make a good first impression with who ever you’re opening for. You want the headliner to know that even though you’re opening for him or her, you’re no slouch yourself. Time for a power move. TAKE OVER THE GREEN ROOM. Show up hours before the headliner arrives and just throw your shit everywhere. Unpack your suitcase, hang up your “show shirts,” plug in multiple devices, start ordering baskets of fried food early, and just stack those motherfuckers up. Like a dog marking his territory, staking your claim on the green room will show the headliner, the MC, and any guest spots that happen to drop by on the weekend, that this is your domain. Make them respect and understand that. Whose house?! FEATURE’S HOUSE!

2. As the opening act and the de facto right-hand man of the headliner all weekend long, it’s important not to be dull. Within seconds of meeting the headliner be sure to tell them a bit more about your self. Give them a narrative. Perhaps you’ve had recent legal troubles, perhaps you are recently divorced, perhaps you have gambling debts, let everyone know this early and often, and keep this as a through-line throughout the weekend. Have daily updates about this ongoing struggle.

Is your wife still a bitch? Does that booker still owe you money? Are you becoming slightly paranoid and wondering if the manager of the current club you are working has said anything to the headliner about your performance?

Get these thoughts out there! These are storytellers you are working with, after all, they love stories! Oh and be sure to be seen crying at least once in the greenroom over the course of the weekend. Let’s them know your heart is in the game.

3. Name drop. Relentlessly. Yeah, they’re a headliner, but you’ve worked with two guys who are Bob & Tom regulars. Be sure they know that. And talk about bookers a lot. Guys that book clubs, guys that book one-nighters. Bring them up constantly. Ask everyone if they’ve worked those rooms. If they haven’t tell them a story about the time that you worked that room. How you killed. How you banged a waitress that worked there. How the booker screwed you out of money. How you’re not allowed back in Idaho. That way they can benefit from your vast experience and will be able to imagine what it is like to actually work there.

THE ACT

1. Fuck the MC. This can’t be stressed enough. Most often he’s some dumb kid who’s just started getting regular work at the club. Fuck that. You’re the feature. Take a shot at him. If he looks weird, tell the audience how he looks weird. Point out how he looks like Harry Potter or some shit. Some hip reference to show that you get it. Tell the crowd that dumb kid probably likes Mighty Morphin Power Rangers or some shit, some old reference that they’ll have to cock their heads like confused dogs to remember. What a dumb asshole, that MC. Who does he think he is? The feature? No. He’s not the feature. YOU’RE THE FUCKING FEATURE. He’s the MC. Remind him of that constantly. Put that little asshole in his place.

2. Crowd work. You’ve only got twenty-five minutes up there, why only tell jokes in that time? The club wants to see that you know how to abandon script and just clumsily talk to an audience. GO. FOR. IT. If anyone looks strange or fat or non status quo, for Christ’s sake, let him or her know that! It’s what everyone is thinking. You’re the only one with the balls to say it. SO SAY IT.

3. With regard to material it’s wide open but there are some topics you’re going to need to hit. If you’re married be sure to talk about how you hate your wife, how your wife ruined your life, how she got fat, how she stood in the way of your comedy dreams – be sure to not mention that she’s at home with the kids while you make $600 for four days works chasing your dream. They don’t need to know that. That’s your artistic liberty.

4. Say a joke that’s really racist against black people – something about them stealing or being lazy. Then say you’re “just kidding.” Mention how you love black people, how you wish you could be black. Point out a black person in the crowd and say how cool they are, it’s all good. Right, homey? Talk black to them. Show the audience it’s all good. Say another joke that’s really racist against black people. Callback.

5. If you’re black, point out how lame and white the audience is. Mention how they can’t believe they stumbled into a show where a black guy is on stage! Use a lame, white voice when you pretend to be them. Gee whiz! Honey, hold on to your purse! Mention something about black guys having huge dicks. Try not to picture old photographs of civil rights leaders while you do this. They have no place here.

6. If a punchline doesn’t work, try yelling it again a second time. If that doesn’t work, point out how something is wrong with the audience for not laughing at that punchline. Resume crowd work. Callback.

7. Lastly, don’t be a woman. Ever.

MERCH

1. This first bit of advice should probably go into “The Act” section, as technically it should be executed during the on-stage performance, but I will offer it up here, for the utmost of merchandising clarity. After all, merch is your payday; it’s important not to fuck around. Spend the last three to five minutes of your set painstakingly explaining the merchandise you will be selling after the show. This is your one shot to talk directly to the audience, might as well unfurl the wares. Hold that T-shirt up, show the entire audience exactly what they could be lucky enough to own a mere forty-seven minutes from now, reassure them that yes, you do have size XXL. Also, as your merchandise is usually seven to nine years old, and thus relevant to jokes from that era, this is your one chance to explain your merchandise as more often that not, it will have nothing to do with your act. Explain it!

2. Well then! What to sell? Sky is the limit, my friend! The only limitation is your imagination, which very often is an enormous limitation so let me save you some time: stick to drinking, drugs and tits. You’ve got some clever puns you’ve strung together? Awesome. Sell that shit to @midnight you fucking hipster. THIS IS ABOUT MOVING PRODUCT. Think everyman. Some actual T-shirts that I have seen include:

– Professional Motor Boater

– Professional Boob Inspector

– I Know Your Eyes Are Up There, I’m Looking At Your Tits

– Volunteer Breast Cancer Detector

That last shirt was actually sold by a guy who claimed that he was raising money for Susan G. Komen, and that a portion of the proceeds we’re going to raise funds for breast cancer awareness. When I asked him about the details of his philanthropy, he became nervous and paranoid and stammered some murky explanation that made the whole thing seem more suspect and sketchy. Haha, whatever bro, who gives a shit?! Sell some pink wristbands too! Move that merch! Life on the road!

Koozies are popular! They’re cheap, easy-to-print, and top sellers. Why not have several options of koozies as well? People snatch ‘em up! Some actual beer koozies that I have seen include:

– BAC – Blood Awesome Content

– I’m Not Drunk, Officer. I’m High.

– a koozie that just looked like the label of a prescription bottle

– a koozie featuring the American Flag

– a koozie featuring the Confederate flag

– Professional Motor Boater

– Professional Boob Inspector

– a koozie that just had a huge set of tits on it

MAKE IT SOMETHING UNIQUE TO YOU AND SIT BACK AND COLLECT THE BIG BUCKS!!!

But don’t put out an album that you recorded or anything. No one buy’s CD’s anymore. Besides, bro, your sets are like Buddhist sand paintings. Ephemeral. To be experienced once and then scattered to the wind. Fuck posterity. This is art.

Oh, that reminds me!

– a koozie with a picture of dead Osama Bin Laden!

REAL BOSS.

Well sir (definitely never madam), looks like you’re ready to go out there and feature! Enjoy yourself! Enjoy Indianapolis, Lancaster and Ypsilanti! Enjoy the ride because it will all be over soon. One day, before you know it, you’ll be ready to headline! And that particular position comes with it’s own set of rules to play (Hint: never tip the wait staff for the food and drinks your taking out of the kitchen; you’re working, they’re working, why would you tip? You don’t tip your co-workers, do you? Don’t be an asshole.)

Until then, go out and feature young man (never woman), the comedy world is yours for the taking!

Oh, almost forgot! At the end of the weekend, after the last tab has been collected and the merch is all boxed up, don’t forget to corner the headliner! Ask him to vouch for you at a pre-prepared list of clubs you’ve written out. If he’s non-committal really hold him to the fire. Ask him when, specifically you and him will be working together and what club he is doing next and if he will insist that you open for him. You’ve gotten to know each other over the last few days, he won’t mind. He gets it. This shit is dog-eat-dog, bro. Wait, dog-eat-dog, that’s actually pretty funny. Or what about, eat-dog-eat?! Like as a name for a Chinese restaurant. Hahaha, a Chinese Restaurant called, “Eat Dog Eat?!” That’s fucking hilarious! There’s definitely something there, man. Put it in the act!

MDRT – Virgil Dickerson

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Simply put: Virgil Dickerson makes Denver a more fun place to be. The head of the Greater Than Collective – the record label that put out my record, is putting out my new record, and reps a shit-ton of Denver bands – Virgil is never not embarking on some new endeavor. It’s hard to even describe what it is he does: record label head, producer, event coordinator, concert promoter, marketer, all those titles seem to apply. Perhaps it’s best to let his business card do the talking.

“Virgil Dickerson, Illegal Pete’s Marketing Director, All Around Good Dude.”

That seems about right, but then on the back of his card he writes, “Food/Music/Comedy/Booze/Nerd/Adventure Seeker/Fun Finder/Storyteller.”

The picture becomes more complete.

I met Virgil a few years back and since that time two things have happened: my life has become more fun, my comedy output has become more organized. No wonder I love the dude.

But Virgil didn’t just stumble into his position as Denver’s foremost purveyor of fun; he’s had has sleeves rolled up in this scene since the mid-90’s when he started helping put on shows just because. From there he started a label, a record store, printed vinyl for some of my favorite bands, had some pitfalls, learned from that, hooked up with Illegal Pete’s and has pretty much kicked ass ever since. And all because he was never afraid to simply learn by doing.

When we approached Virgil about getting Illegal Pete’s help with the High Plains Comedy Festival he simply said that he had never done something like that so why not? And the festival has been nothing but a success ever since. I think that’s probably a story a number of people could tell about Virgil. I approached him with an idea and he helped me make it successful. The world needs more people like that.

So listen up to this episode, world. And try to figure out how to be more like Virgil. Step one: eat more kimchi.

Virgil wanted you to watch this video because he and his super-cool son Logan love it.

Check out the episode on iTunes here.

MDRT – Greg Baumhauer

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While it may be a bit of a disservice to post a photo of my friend Greg Baumhauer with a beer in hand – Greg is almost a year sober and proud of it, thank you very much – truth be told, this is how I will always remember Greg: a sea-captain at the helm of the Squire Lounge, guiding the raucous bar through an unsteady tide that very well might just sink the ship, but goddamnit, we were all going down with it.

Greg was one of my first good friends in comedy and as soon as we established that friendship we started doing shows together. Thinking back on my early comedy career I can’t really remember a time when I was not putting on shows with Greg – the Gong Show, Los Comicos Super Hilariosos, those weird, amazing one-offs we did at an art gallery on Santa Fe. The Squire (though that was his baby, I always lended a hand). Greg and I used to produce so much stuff together we would have weekly meetings – typically at St. Marks or Tom’s Home Cooking – to discuss all that we had going on together. It seems like from the get-go in my comedy career, that was the way it always was.

Until suddenly, that was the way it wasn’t. I had to part ways with Greg. The Grawlix did, really. We had to ask him to step down from running the show with us as his addictions were getting in the way. That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do as a friend, and it definitely ended our friendship for awhile. Shit like that is never easy. But to hear Greg now, sober and clear-headed and dipping his toes back into comedy waters, it was something that he needed. Greg needed to get his life together.

What a pleasure then, to sit down with Greg in the amazing head space that he’s in right now, and talk shop. Talk the past, talk the future, talk friendship and dick jokes and Colfax and everything that made the first five-plus years of my comedy career so amazing and special in so many ways. I owe a lot of that to Greg. We watched each other grow as comedians and pushed each other as well. Greg was always a good one to have in your corner because not only is he one of the world’s foremost shit-talkers, he’s just a brilliant conversationalist. As I think you’ll hear on this episode. So enjoy, everyone!

And watch this video, “Window Licker” by Aphex Twin, as Greg suggests because it’s nuts.

Check out the episode on iTunes here.