chili challis – BAM!

I was heartsick to hear of the passing of comedian Chili Challis last night. Chili was both a friend and hugely inspirational to me. When I was a teenager in Cincinnati in the late 70’s getting my comedy start at d.w. eye, Chili came in (along with John Riggi and Will Durst) with his extremely solid act, raising the bar for every comic that followed.  I was in awe of Chili (he was Bert Challis back then).  Sometimes he was so good I just got angry and jealous – but in retrospect, I realized that it was because of him, Riggi, and Durst that the eye got put on the map in the first place.  While the rest of us were figuring the game out, and wearing training pants, Challis was giving real legitimacy to the club.

So, then about 10 years ago, when I started writing Plrknib – my book about d.w. eye – I found myself back in touch with Chili. He was hugely supportive of the book, and I discovered how much we had in common: we both loved comedy, comedy writing, nurturing and supporting new comics and talent.  (He spent a tremendous amount of time running well-respected comedy Dojos for stand-up newbies across the country.)  And a few years ago, he introduced me to ComedyWire – one of the nation’s fastest growing comedy writing hubs.

We also both had deep root feelings for Cincinnati and getting our comedy starts at d.w. eye.  And of course friends and family were important to both of us.

So, I was thrilled last year, when Chili didn’t just agree to join me, Michael Flannery, and the other comics for the d.w. eye reunion – but also to bring along his brilliant son and comic, Thaddeus Challis, to join us and carry on the tradition. That’s what Chili was about.

So, I won’t say RIP Chili Challis – I’ll say what he said, everytime he ended one of his GREAT bits: Chili Challis – BAM!


Unfortunately, we didn’t get a lot of pics at the reunion show, but here’s a phenomenal selfie Chili took of himself, Drew, and Marty Polio (who joined us at the last minute) back stage.  3 d.w. eye Legends.

And check out the video above for his performance last year at the eye reunion.

prom selected for portland film festival

Exciting News!  My screenplay, Prom on Mars, is an Official Selection at the upcoming Portland Comedy Film Festival.

Wait – what?!  I hear you cry.  Screenplay?

Yes, once upon a long, long time ago Prom on Mars was my retro-futuristic screenplay about a bunch of kids in the year 2053 taking a three-day shuttle ride to Mars for their senior prom.  (Something of a cross between High School Musical (without the music), Star Trek, and Animal House.)  In the 2000’s – back when I was Reviews Editor for PopImage.com – Prom became a long-running webcomic at that site, and this site was created to house the whole thing.  Prom had a nice run for a few years at those two sites, told it’s story, sold a few indie copies of a print run of the first 50 strips, and then called it a day.

Later, when I started planning for a new website to house my writing, comedy, and publishing efforts, I decided to keep the promonmars url, because I kind of loved the name and the branding, and figured I’d also grab any leftover traffic.  The current site has had almost exclusively all new content.  Although I’ve occasionally re-posted some of the non-Prom strips – eg Total Losers, and Young Christo – but no Prom strips…yet.


Young Christo

In fact, for the past 10 years or so, in my brain, Prom was now a brand (and, technically, a publishing imprint), not a property of it’s own.

That is, until I re-read the original Prom script this past summer for the first time in a decade, and thought hey, that’s not so terrible.  So, I cleaned it up and sent it off to a couple places, including the Portland Film Festival.  And well, there you go.

Wish me luck!  I may even post some of the script or the old webcomics up here, if there’s any interest…

eggheads podcast – infinity wars and the new gods

Hey, you know I love comic books, right?  (I was Reviews Editor for the legendary comics-focused website PopImage for about four years in the early 2000s, and Prom on Mars actually started as a webcomic on that site before it morphed into this.)

So anyway, I come back to my fanboy roots in Part 1 of this new Eggheads Podcast talking with prime Egghead Pablo Solano about Infinity War, Adam Warlock, Kirby, the New Gods, and much much more.  Check it out!

miserable review on new pop lit

MISERABLE ADVENTURE STORIES is a variegated collection of pop fiction by one of the best practitioners of the pop story, Alex Bernstein. Three of the stories aren’t miserable, they’re masterful…

Okay, you’re not supposed to draw attention to reviews – because then it’s like cherry picking if you don’t show the bad ones.  But this one is so nice.  (Listen, when Simon & Schuster start publishing my books, we can start a new conversation about it.)

The good folks over at New Pop Lit call the stories in MAS “Masterful examples of the pop genre” and “all entertaining”.  You can read the full review here.  Book reviews are a new sleeve over at NPL, and their other reviews are tremendously insightful about all the books they’re reading, new and old.  And as always, check out the rest of their site for some of today’s best up and coming authors.

Of course, you can easily discover what’s so masterful and entertaining about Miserable Adventure Stories by picking up your own copy here.  You can also find it at many of your better bookstores.  Ask for it by name!

the rottweiler

Excited to announce that New Pop Lit is featuring The Rottweiler – the flagship story from my new collection Miserable Adventure Stories – on their site starting today.  NPL is publishing some of the most exciting up-and-coming indie fiction around right now, and I’m thrilled to be among their authors.  Go spend an hour on their site – you won’t regret it.

They also wrote an incredibly lovely introduction to the story that you can find here.  (Super cool illustrations, too.  If you’re into all things Holmes, you should be very cozy here.)

Here’s the opening of the story itself:

It was a cold, brittle day in late December when I came to the apartments of 442D Butcher Street, London, and met my cousin, the illustrious Sir Roderick Rottswilde for the first time. But Sir Roderick was known by another more famous name. He was familiar to all Londoners as not-quite-the-World’s-Greatest-Detective, and second-only-to-that-august-personage-himself-Mr. Sherlock Holmes. My elder cousin was, in fact, The Rottweiler.

And now, Sir Roderick – The Rottweiler – had done the impossible. He’d recovered the Crown Jewels of the Tower of London itself and captured the brigands who’d stolen them. And, today, amid a sea of reporters, he was turning both over to the highest ranking officers of Scotland Yard.

more

 

 

obscenity trial in encyclopedia vol. 3

Very excited to announce that my extremely profane piece Obscenity Trial is in the long-awaited third volume of Encyclopedia.  I received my copy of Encyclopedia the other day and it is a gorgeous book, full of literary (and artistic/photographic) genius.  This tome has been swirling around in the ether for – literally – about five years now.  I was actually stunned to finally hold it in my hands.  But the encyclopedists have done fine, fine work.  You can order the book here.

Below is a (redacted) snippet from Obscenity Trial.  Pick up Vol 3 to read the full thing.

 

the d.w. eye reunion is happening

Yes, the d.w. eye Reunion is actually happening!  It’s going to be Friday, June 23, 2017 at the 20th Century Theater in Cincinnati.  For anyone who’s read Plrknib, this will essentially be the book coming to life before your very eyes (except everyone is significantly older).  Comedians appearing in the book who are scheduled to perform include Drew Hastings, Chili Challis, Rico Bruce Wade, Cap & Johnny, and myself.  (And this will be the first stand-up I’ve performed in Cinti in over 30 years!  Oy.)  We’re joined by a ton of great comics who performed at the eye shortly after the period that’s covered in the book, including Michael Flannery, Steve Caminiti, Jim Gilliece, and Mark Kline. And we expect to be joined by even more eye alumni.  (If you’re reading this and you ever performed at the eye, please contact me or Michael Flannery.)  Even Don Merriss, the original owner of the eye, will be on hand!

Flannery and I have been assembling this event for a couple months now.  If you’re in the area – this is going to be much more than a “night at a comedy club.”  We’re turning this into an event with a ton of surprises in store.

Also the night before the show, Thursday 6/22, we’ll be doing a signing of Plrknib at Joseph Beth Booksellers in Rookwood Pavilion.

For more info, please visit our new d.w. eye site. You can also let us know you’re coming by signing up at our Facebook event page.

More updates as we get them!

plrknib in cincinnati magazine

Lots of exciting Plrknib news this week – and in the weeks to come!  An excerpt from the book – nicely titled “Funny Guy” – is featured in the current “After Dark” issue of Cincinnati Magazine.  It’s only available in the print edition of the magazine – which you can order here.  Here’s a snippet from the piece, below.

If you’re in Cincinnati and looking to pick up a copy of Plrknib (along with the new Cincinnati Magazine) in an actual bookstore, one place you can certainly find it is at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Rookwood Pavilion.  A friend sent in the lovely picture below.  How appropriate to be sandwiched between Savages and Madness!  (I was told by someone else that it was a store pick in JBB, and had one of those “why you should check this out” notes above it.  How nice.)

And we have some VERY BIG announcements coming soon, especially again, for folks in the Cincinnati/Ohio area.

Stay tuned.

one minute plays: a practical guide to tiny theatre

Hey look!  The good folks at Gi60 have just published One Minute Plays:  A Practical Guide to Tiny Theatre.

One Minute Plays demystifies the super-short-form play, demonstrating that this rich, accessible format offers great energy and variety not only to audiences but to everyone involved in its creation and performance. The one minute play offers a unique challenge to actors, directors and writers: how do you create a whole world, where actors have room to perform and where audiences have a true experience all in 60 seconds? This handbook includes:

  • An anthology of 200 one-minute plays selected from the annual Gone in 60 Seconds festival.
  • A toolbox of exercises, methodologies and techniques for educators, practitioners and workshop leaders at all levels.
  • Tips and advice on the demands of storytelling, inclusivity and creative challenges.
  • Detailed practical information about creating your own minute festival, including play selection, running order, staging and marketing.

I’m also thrilled that a few of my own Gi60 pieces have been included:  Ace and Me, King Kwik, Nothing, and Sleep Tight.

You can order a copy of this highly recommended book here.

You can also pick up a copy at the author’s party on Monday, May 1st at the Drama Bookshop in NYC.  Should be a great time, and they’ll be doing staged readings of several pieces, including Sleep Tight.