WBEZ | Ian Belknap http://www.wbez.org/tags/ian-belknap Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Come see me tonight at Essay Fiesta http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-03/come-see-me-tonight-essay-fiesta-106118 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/6778466710_c7a9e68a7c.jpg" style="float: right; height: 300px; width: 300px;" title="Ian Belknap (Flickr/donhall16)" />Tonight at 7 p.m. I will be reading a nonfiction essay at <a href="http://www.bookcellarinc.com/">the Book Cellar</a> (my favorite place to buy books, drink liquor [but not tonight of course, it&#39;s still Lent] and listen to great readings) as part of Essay Fiesta. Also reading tonight will be:</div><ul><li>Writer <a href="http://ericbjorlin.wordpress.com/" target="_blank">Eric Bjorlin</a></li><li>Actor and Storyteller <a href="http://www.robynokrant.com/" target="_blank">Robyn Okrant</a></li><li>Red Eye Columnist <a href="http://www.stephenmarkley.com/" target="_blank">Stephen Markley</a></li><li>Write Club OVERLORD <a href="http://writeclubrules.com/" target="_blank">Ian Belknap</a></li></ul><p>Any proceeds from the reading benefit 826Chi. Learn more about Essay Fiesta and 826 <a href="http://essayfiesta.com/">here</a>. Hope to see you!</p><p><em>Follow me <a href="https://twitter.com/Zulkey">@Zulkey</a></em></p></p> Mon, 18 Mar 2013 09:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-03/come-see-me-tonight-essay-fiesta-106118 You don't deserve a MacArthur 'genius' grant, so don't even joke about it http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-10/you-dont-deserve-macarthur-genius-grant-so-dont-even-joke-about-it <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/4768560542_d59eb4baea_z.jpg" style="float: left; height: 218px; width: 300px; " title="Junot Diaz, 2012 MacArthur Genius, in 2010. (Flickr/American Library Association)" />This year&#39;s crop of MacArthur geniuses &mdash; <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2012-10/macarthur-fellows-include-5-chicago-ties-102820">several of whom were from Chicago</a> &mdash; inevitably inspired jealousy, frustration and anger amongst those in creative and science fields. But Write Club founder Ian Belknap doesn&#39;t want to hear about how you deserve it more than them, not even for a second. Read an excerpt below or listen above:&nbsp;</p><div><em>The MacArthur Fellows &ndash; the &ldquo;genius&rdquo; grants &ndash; were announced this&nbsp;week. Each year, Chicago&rsquo;s largest private foundation awards these&nbsp;prestigious prizes, each of which comes with $500,000, no strings&nbsp;attached.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>I will discuss this year&rsquo;s &ldquo;class&rdquo; of &ldquo;geniuses,&rdquo; but before I do, I&rsquo;d like&nbsp;to begin by eliminating something.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Each and every year, when the MacArthur Fellows are announced,&nbsp;there is some dipsh** in your circle of acquaintance who says or posts&nbsp;or tweets some variation of the following: &quot;Aw DANG! I didn&rsquo;t win AGAIN!&quot; Or &quot;Guess I&rsquo;ll have to wait till next year,&quot; or, &quot;</em><em>Who do I gotta blow to get a Genius grant?&quot;</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>There. That sh** right there? That sh** that is burning up right now?&nbsp;Let&rsquo;s all of us agree right now that that is some sh** that we will never,&nbsp;ever say again, OK?</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>That sh** was maybe MODERATELY amusing when it was first&nbsp;uttered. But that was like 30 years ago. And what shallow reservoir of&nbsp;funny there was in this remark has long since evaporated. Look &ndash;&nbsp;when you&rsquo;re the eighteen millionth person to say a thing, it is&nbsp;SUPREMELY annoying to the rest of us. It&rsquo;s like you&rsquo;re the &ldquo;Where&rsquo;s&nbsp;the Beef?&rdquo; lady &ndash; your moment of cultural relevance is long past and&nbsp;we&rsquo;d all be grateful if you&rsquo;d shut your f***ing trap.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>So can we all swear here and now to two things &ndash; raise your right&nbsp;hand and repeat after me:&nbsp;I, state your name, will never willingly utter any variation of this&nbsp;MacArthur remark, because saying something this boring and&nbsp;stupid just demonstrates that the gulf that separates me from&nbsp;being a genius is quite vast.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>I further pledge that if anyone should make any version of this&nbsp;remark with earshot of me, I shall strike them full in the face&nbsp;with a flyswatter, a flyswatter I shall carry for this purpose.&nbsp;</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>OK. Good. Let us never speak of this again.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><a href="http://thepapermacheteshow.com/" target="_blank">The Paper Machete</a><em>&nbsp;is a weekly live magazine at the Horseshoe in North Center. It&#39;s always at 3 pm., it&#39;s always on Saturday, and it&#39;s always free. Get all your</em>&nbsp;The Paper Machete Radio Magazine&nbsp;<em>needs filled&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/paper-machete" target="_blank">here</a>, or download the podcast from iTunes&nbsp;<a href="http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-paper-machete-radio-magazine/id450280345" target="_blank">here</a>.</em></div></p> Fri, 12 Oct 2012 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-10/you-dont-deserve-macarthur-genius-grant-so-dont-even-joke-about-it A Brazilian Passion of the Christ becomes a bit gone terribly wrong http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-05/brazilian-passion-christ-becomes-bit-gone-terribly-wrong-98711 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP120406059192.jpg" title="Brazilians watch a reenactment of the Passion of Jesus Christ in Rio de Janero on Good Friday of this year. (AP/Felipe Dana)"></div><p>Our story today starts with this truly horrible story, <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/southamerica/brazil/9221453/Actor-dies-after-accidentally-hanging-himself-as-Judas-during-The-Passion-of-Christ.html">as reported by <em>The Telegraph</em></a>. An actor playing the role of Judas in a Brazillian staging of the Passion of the Christ died after accidentally hanging himself:</p><div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/passion%20of%20christ.jpg" title=""></div></div><div>Writer Ian Belknap has an, err, unique take on this terrible tale. "I say we stage a Passion of the Christ where EVERY member&nbsp;of the cast winds up dead," he says in this essay from <em>The Paper Machete</em>. He even goes so far (as if he could go any further) to suggest some possible actors who might be willing to take on the role. Perhaps unsurprisingly, James Franco makes an appearance. Read an excerpt below or listen above:</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>"I will set aside the fact that the copy editors wished to leave you with a bit of&nbsp;cultural context regarding the show. Because I realize that, like me, you read an&nbsp;item like this, you cock your head and go, 'Not to discount the fella that hung&nbsp;himself, but I sure would like to know a scosh more about significance of&nbsp;the Passion of Christ in the local culture.'</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Here’s your real takeaway from this story, and here is the legacy of the late Mr.&nbsp;Klimeck. It is this:&nbsp;</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Commit to the bit.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Because, come on – on the Stanislavsky Scale, Mr. Klimeck makes Nicholas&nbsp;Cage seem pretty bush league, am I right? I mean that Taylor Lautner or David&nbsp;Arquette or Billy Zane or your various Afflecks and lesser Baldwins-- our best and&nbsp;brightest? Tiago Klimeck SMOKED ‘em all, man.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>But if he was just some lone genius – in that riveting way of like a Chris Klein or a&nbsp;Justin Long – then, okay. Then I would not feel like the U.S. supremacy in the&nbsp;realm of ultra-dazzling mastery of craft was threatened."</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><a href="http://thepapermacheteshow.com/" target="_blank">The Paper Machete</a><em>&nbsp;is a weekly live magazine at the Horseshoe in North Center. It's always at 3 p.m., it's always on Saturday, and it's always free. Get all your</em>&nbsp;The Paper Machete Radio Magazine&nbsp;<em>needs filled&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/paper-machete" target="_blank">here</a>, or download the podcast from iTunes&nbsp;<a href="http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-paper-machete-radio-magazine/id450280345" target="_blank">here</a>.</em></div></p> Wed, 02 May 2012 14:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-05/brazilian-passion-christ-becomes-bit-gone-terribly-wrong-98711 Irby + Ian dole out the highs and lows of a year in James Franco http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-12-25/irby-ian-dole-out-highs-and-lows-year-james-franco-95133 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-December/2011-12-23/6320065451_be4acce126.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-23/6320065451_be4acce126.jpg" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 300px; height: 200px;" title="Franco speaking at an event in November. (Flickr/Tara Giancaspro)">This "unholy union" of writers, the duo behind the new blog <a href="http://irbyandian.blogspot.com/">Irby + Ian</a>, Samantha Irby and Ian Belknap definitely do not fall on the same side of the "is James Franco legitimate?" argument. Read an excerpt of their thoughts below:</p><p><em><strong>Irby:</strong> Well, it certainly has been a huge year for movie and TV star, performance artist, painter, author, model, provocateur, James Franco. Hasn't it, Ian?</em></p><p><em><strong>Ian: </strong>Well if you mean it's been a big year for a billionaire dilettante a**hole to continue swindling a gullible public on a series of half-baked past times, and cementing his status as the perfect slackjawed and self-congratulatory embodiment of everything wrong with this once-great nation, then yeah! It has been a banner year.</em></p><p><em><strong>Irby: </strong>Jealous....January 7th. James Franco told the </em>Los Angeles Times<em>, 'I might just be gay.' Which was surprising to me, considering that the fan letters I sent to his home on a weekly basis stressed just how much and how ferociously I would make love to him if ever presented with the opportunity. </em></p><p><em>When confronted with a question about his sexuality, based on his affinity for playing gay characters, rather than offer up an insulted denial, this hot piece of a** said that he accepted those roles because -- and I quote -- 'I might just be gay.' A million and a half boners all popped at the same time. And one poor little heart broke.&nbsp;</em></p><p><em><strong>Ian:</strong> January 31. Franco announces he'll be teaching a course called </em>Editing James Franco, with James Franco<em> at Columbia College Hollywood. if there is any more effective means of announcing what a total d***hole you are, i cna't imagine what it could possibly be.</em></p><p><em><strong>Irby:</strong>&nbsp;Again, jealousy....</em></p><p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332483843-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/sites/default/files/2011-12-17-papermachete-samantha-irby-ian-belknap.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Tune back in to the&nbsp;<em>Machete</em>&nbsp;in January, where there will be journalists, comedians and storytellers talking about current events, pop cultures, and American manners.</p><p><a href="http://thepapermacheteshow.com/" target="_blank">The Paper Machete</a>&nbsp;<em>is a weekly live magazine at the Horseshoe in North Center. It's always at 3 p.m., it's always on Saturday, and it's always free. Get all your</em>&nbsp;The Paper Machete Radio Magazine&nbsp;<em>needs filled&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.org/thepapermachete" target="_blank">here</a>, or download the podcast from iTunes&nbsp;<a href="http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-paper-machete-radio-magazine/id450280345" target="_blank">here</a>.</em></p></p> Sun, 25 Dec 2011 15:49:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-12-25/irby-ian-dole-out-highs-and-lows-year-james-franco-95133 The Ian Belknap Interview http://www.wbez.org/blog/claire-zulkey/2011-12-02/ian-belknap-interview-94536 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-December/2011-12-02/belknap - calm before storm.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: left;"><em>Before we get to today&rsquo;s interview, I thought you might enjoy checking out <a href="http://www.avclub.com/articles/worst-christmas-music,65888/">this fun discussion at </a></em><a href="http://www.avclub.com/articles/worst-christmas-music,65888/">the A.V. Club</a><em><a href="http://www.avclub.com/articles/worst-christmas-music,65888/"> about the worst Christmas songs</a>. Also, soak in the football this weekend because your <a href="../../blog/claire-zulkey/2011-11-28/secret-life-cleatus-fox-sports-robot-94394">Cleatus the Football Robot Fan Fiction</a> entries are due Monday at noon. </em><br /><br />Today I chat with a colleague of mine from the wonderful world of live Chicago lit and wit. He&rsquo;s one of the most passionate, ferocious fans and producers of the genre, serving as the producer and host of the wonderful series <a href="http://writeclubrules.com/">Write Club</a>, wherein writers thrown down like it&rsquo;s a boxing match. I read once and lost in the first round and hope to return one day, if not to win, at least not to pout like a jerk. He&rsquo;s also contributed to fine reading series such as <em><a href="http://thepapermacheteshow.com/">The&nbsp;Paper Machete</a></em>, the <em><a href="http://www.encyclopediashow.com/EncyclopediaShow/Home.html">Encyclopedia Show</a></em> and<em> <a href="http://www.zulkey.com/funnyhaha.php">Funny Ha-Ha</a></em>. Lately you can find him on the web blogging at the new advice site <a href="http://irbyandian.blogspot.com/">Irby + Ian.</a> You can find out more about him <a href="http://ianbelknap.com/">here</a>. He&rsquo;s an awesome kind of grouch, sort of like a younger, more handsome Louis Black, the kind of guy you don&rsquo;t want to cross but whose approval you do want to win.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-02/belknap - calm before storm.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 332px;" title="Belknap at a recent 'Machete' performance" /></p><p style="text-align: left;"><strong>What are you working on right now?</strong><br />I have a novel for middle readers that&#39;s moldering away nicely, as well as an idea for a play that, I sh*t you not, would win a Pulitzer if I ever wrote the thing. Mostly, I write stuff to read aloud - I whorishly do pretty much any show that&#39;ll have me. Chicago has an ass-kicking &quot;live lit&quot; scene and there&#39;s a ton of cool shows happening, so I&#39;m pleased to be included. Or maybe I&#39;m just afraid people will read my sh*t wrong unless I read it TO them.<br /><br /><strong>What&rsquo;s <a href="http://irbyandian.blogspot.com/">Irby + Ian</a>, and why was it begun?</strong><br />irby+ian is a thrice-weekly advice column that&#39;s a collaboration between myself and National Treasure <a href="http://www.zulkey.com/2011/05/ive_known_todays_interviewee_f.php">Samantha Irby</a> (who requires both that I describe her this way, and that I capitalize it - our agreement is quite airtight on this point) for those among us who rankle when confronted by the damp, dewy, limp, Oprah-fied avalanche of tips-n-tricks that clog newsstands and your inbox all the damn time. irby+ian is advice for jerks written by *ssholes. New post by me on Mon, Sam on Wed, and co-post on Fri. If you like your advice unsparing, foul-mouthed, sharp-tongued, and most of all hi-f*cking-larious, irby+ian is your go-to source. You can write in with your burning questions to what all and sundry concur is the best email address yet devised by the mind of man: blackgalafianakis@gmail.com - just please, for f*ck&#39;s sake, do NOT expect an earnest or well-intended answer. Misspelled jusssssssssst enough to dodge a lawsuit.<br /><br /><strong>At Write Club, how often do you have to deal with bad sports who were unhappy with the results of the competition? (Aside from myself.)</strong><br />Never, really. The charity angle short-circuits that a bit, I think. There&#39;ve definitely been people that have not been stoked about the outcome, but there&#39;s never been any John McEnroe-style vitriol. If anything, most are raring to go for another future round. This is what they tell me to my face. What they really feel I could not tell you.<br /><br /><strong>I&rsquo;m blatantly trying to start something here but how would you say Write Club is superior to somewhat-similarly-formatted <a href="http://www.literarydeathmatch.com/">Literary Death Match</a>? </strong><br />Space does not really permit me to fully enumerate the superiorities. But I can outline a few that I think are key:</p><ul><li>WRITE CLUB (all caps, please - WRITE CLUB is always yelling) is way more interested in cross-pollinating between forms (theater people share the stage with comedy people, and lit nerds throw down against improv and sketch people).</li><li>LDM is a series of essentially static readings, with &quot;wacky show stuff&quot; between/around them and the competition element feels tacked-on to me, since the stakes are unclear; whereas WRITE CLUB is leaner, more tonally consistent, more mindfully curated show - the competition is not a popularity contest, it&#39;s a battle of opposing ideas, of the skill of the opposing writers, and the stakes are a share of the show&#39;s proceeds to a charity of the winners&#39; choosing.</li><li>LDM is primarily concerned with perpetuating/advancing LDM - WRITE CLUB is, too, obviously, but it ALSO has an abiding interest in doing good in the world. WRITE CLUB&#39;s donated about $5K to charity in Chicago, more in <a href="http://writeclubatlanta.com/">Atlanta</a>, and its just launched in <a href="http://www.facebook.com/writeclubsf">San Francisco</a>. I have no idea what happens to the $ from LDM - I won it the last time it was here, and I didn&#39;t see a dime. I think <a href="http://gothamist.com/2006/02/21/todd_zuniga_opi_1.php">Todd Zuniga</a>, the impresario of LDM, pockets the money for capering around in his ironic jacket.</li><li>I don&#39;t talk smack about the artists who have volunteered their time and talent to do my show, which can&#39;t be said about LDM.</li><li>Zuniga seems in my view to substantially overestimate how funny he is.</li><li>Zuniga as host - my opinion - seems kind of above-it-all. I play around with the audience, for sure, and try to grant them license to interact with me between pieces, but I am also intent on showing each person kind enough to consent to do my show to their best advantage. I also have designed a show that attempts to maximize audience good times - never more than 80 min; sometimes there&#39;s free candy; always ace talents on the bill. Plus I am actually funny.</li></ul><p>There&#39;s plenty more, but that&#39;ll do for now. If he wants to throw down, I&#39;m his huckleberry.<br /><br /><strong>In general, what makes for a good reading, aside from quality performances?</strong><br />I&#39;ve talked with other pals in the scene, notably <a href="http://www.robbieqtelfer.com/">Robbie Q. Telfer</a> of <em><a href="http://www.encyclopediashow.com/EncyclopediaShow/Home.html">The Encyclopedia Show</a></em>, and <a href="http://thepapermacheteshow.com/">Christopher Piatt of <em>The Paper Machete</em></a> (names, dropped!) about the role of what I&#39;ve come to regard as &quot;curatorial intelligence&quot; applied to booking a show. You obviously want the smartest, talented-est, charismatic-est individual writer/performers you can get, but you ALSO must consider the interplay between them, and the balance of the entire bill. I think there are some shows (which shall remain nameless) that don&#39;t pay sufficient heed to the arch and shape of the overall show, to create a cogent and satisfying evening, rather than just a laundry list of performers.<br /><br />The stuff that I find most surprising and gripping involves novel ideas, and a degree of deftness - leapfrogging between ideas/tones/shades of emotion. I intentionally make no requirements of form - there&#39;ve been poems, stories, personal essays all in the same show. One of the exciting aspects of the show is the degree to which a smart, engaging person at a mic can surprise an audience - it&#39;s what I&#39;m after in watching any show. I want my ass kicked in a good way. I want a punch in the brain.<br /><br /><strong>There seems to be <a href="http://broadwayworld.com/people/Ian_Belknap/#">another Ian Belknap</a> around on the internet, one who also has dramatic experience. What do you know about him and have you made contact?</strong><br />I found that poor bastard shortly after I joined faceborg. He&#39;s a theater director - seems a nice enough kid. Prior to coming to my senses and pursuing the dying art of literature, I logged a couple decades in the dying art of theater (between these, I did standup for a couple years, which obviously I had to stop, since people actually like and care about comedy), so I know a ton of people. This year there was a big national theater conference in town, which my wife - ace director <a href="http://www.steppenwolf.org/boxoffice/productions/bio.aspx?id=281&amp;crewId=202">Hallie Gordon</a> - attended. She met him and he said he&#39;d been getting &quot;YOU&#39;RE not Ian Belknap&quot; all week long.<br /><br /><strong>I tend not to read at <em><a href="http://www.zulkey.com/funnyhaha.php">Funny Ha-Ha</a></em> because I can&rsquo;t handle the possibility that a performance at my own reading series might not bring down the house. What drives you to read at Write Club?</strong><br />There is the mortifying possibility of tanking at one&#39;s own show, yes. But for WRITE CLUB to work properly, I feel it&#39;s important to have skin in the game. I lose WRITE CLUB bouts all the time. My record is atrocious. There&#39;s a couple reasons for this (assuming I don&#39;t totally suck, which I&#39;ll leave to others to assess for themselves):</p><ul><li>It&#39;s my show, so audiences are not as inclined to vote me victor.</li><li>I always pit myself against the writer who in my estimation is the biggest killer of the bunch. It makes me better. I may not win, but it makes me better over time. And it makes a better show.</li></ul><p style="text-align: left;"><strong>In recent memory, which of your own personal reading performances seemed to be most successful with the audience, and why do you think that was?</strong><br />I brought WRITE CLUB to the <a href="http://www.decaturbookfestival.com/Community/index.php">Decatur Book Festival</a> in Georgia, and there was a fair bit of excitement generated by my unsavory piece, which I think was inspired mostly by the fact that Georgia is a more polite place than Chicago, with sensibilities more prone to tweaking.</p><p style="text-align: left;">Last year, on my birthday, I was seized by the urge to write a manifesto, which I did. I posted it on my blog, then got invited to perform it at a benefit for The Neo-Futurists, where I used to work (administrative, not as an artist). I was really proud of that one, and it seemed to really land with the audience. <a href="http://ianbelknap.com/ian-blog/2010/6/28/mani-fucking-festo.html">Here</a>&#39;s that one. I wrote <a href="http://ianbelknap.com/ian-blog/2011/6/27/manifestwo.html">a new manifesto this year</a>, and held an invite-only reading at the Hopleaf, which was pretty awesome, too.</p><p style="text-align: left;">But the one of recent vintage that seemed to generate the hottest response was a piece I did <a href="http://ianbelknap.com/ian-blog/2011/9/17/two-birds-one-stone-where-one-of-the-birds-is-also-the-stone.html">at <em>Paper Machete</em></a> - - that really seemed to rally the crowd/tap into some barely submerged &quot;yeah, f*ck that guy [meaning Franco, not, me]&quot; energy that they may not have even known was there. This was borne out because it&#39;s probably the piece that&#39;s gotten shared/passed around by friends/others. I&#39;m maybe at my best when I&#39;m super pissed about something. And if James f*cking Franco doesn&#39;t piss you off, then you&#39;re not paying attention.<br /><br /><strong>What have been some of the more questionable charities Write Club winners have donated to?</strong><br />None. People take the charity obligation/angle of the show seriously. The only ethical question that&#39;s come up is sometimes combatants want to name a non-profit they work with. I say this is fine/admirable. I&#39;ve worked in non-profits for like 10 years, I know how f*cking tough it is. Each of them needs all the damn help it can get.<br /><br /><strong>What are your responsibilities at <em>The Paper Machete</em> and the Encyclopedia Show?</strong><br />I have had to recuse myself from Encyclopedia - I just don&#39;t have the kind of time the show deserves. But for about a year, I was a member of the cast, in the role of Fact Checker, which is a foil/heavy for the hosts. I basically just listened to everybody&#39;s piece and said douchey things. I was like a cranky academic figure intent on pointing out fallacies, etc.</p><p style="text-align: left;">For <em>Paper Machete</em>, I&#39;m an occasional contributor with the title <a href="../../blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-16/5-machete-questions-ian-belknap-dean-mean-92088">Dean of Mean</a>. I&#39;ll take a topic or trend or public figure and try my damnedest to tear them a new *sshole.<br /><br /><strong>If money and family ties were no issue, do you think you&rsquo;d stay here in Chicago or you&rsquo;d explore your career elsewhere?</strong><br />Chicago is a little frustrating in that there is this abundance of mind-blowingly talented people, none of whom make a living by making art. I know you can do tangentially related activities that can generate some income - actors doing voiceover, etc. - but there is no money to be had from making the work itself. Or if there is, I suck ass at finding it. It&#39;s not exclusive to Chicago, obviously, but it&#39;s more pronounced here than on the coasts. Part of the problem with the kind of work I specialize in (live lit? solo performance? raconteur?) is that there&#39;s not the same level of clarity about it that there is for other branches of the arts. You tell people you&#39;re a singer and they get it. You tell them you do personal essays that you perform live that are sort of in the vein of <em>This American Life</em>, maybe, a little bit, and you&#39;ve lost them.</p><p style="text-align: left;">There&#39;s this selflessness on the part of Chicago artists - partly I think because improv is so ingrained here - that&#39;s both really inspiring, because people are always willing to make work without much consideration for money or exposure or any kind of &quot;careerist&quot; objectives. There&#39;s way less ego here than any other place I know about. Which makes it an amazing place to make work, but an abysmal place to try to earn any portion of a living. I moved here from New York City, and that place exerts a pretty potent draw on me still - the velocity and intensity of it I find pretty addictive. L.A. could crack off and drop into the Pacific tomorrow and I would lead the nation in a victory lap. When London fame comes a-knocking, I will answer the door, though.<br /><br />But: school-age kids, wife who has an awesome job doing what she loves (she&#39;s Artistic &amp; Education Director for Steppenwolf for Young Adults), etc. conspire to keep me here for the foreseeable.<br /><br /><strong>Thanks to your titles at<em> The Paper Machete</em> and <em>Encyclopedia Show</em>, you occasionally wield a persona that&rsquo;s a tad gruff. In contrast, what&rsquo;s something that you get unabashedly squealy and excited about?</strong><br />This will sound totally limp and cliche, but my kids blow my mind. My daughter, who&#39;s 8, collaborates with a classmate to write a weekly newspaper about events in their class. Not for an assignment. Just, I guess, to fan the embers of print journalism for the future. And she writes and illustrates books. That are awesome.<br /><br />And my son, who&#39;s 10, started playing saxophone this year, and while he&#39;s obviously not Coltrane as yet - I&#39;m hopelessly non-musical - but it kicks ass to hear him practice. And in the summers, I coach his baseball team, which is about the best goddamn way to spend a summer afternoon that I have found.<br /><br />If you and I are sitting across a conference table for a staff meeting, my face is carved of stone. If you are a baby I encounter at the airport, I can easily become a rubber-faced spaz for your amusement.<br /><br />And my wife does artistic work that is not merely beautiful - which it invariably is - but that has a huge impact.<br /><br />And Louis CK. I would take a f*cking bullet for that guy. Some friends got together and got me tix to see him last year. Front row at the Chicago theater. Total chowder pants for yours truly.<br /><br /><strong>What do you want for Christmas?</strong><br />Louis CK to consent to do WRITE CLUB. Can you make that happen? Can you get his people on the horn? Because I would sh*t a cinder block if that came together. A cinder block of joy. Corn-speckled joy, but still.<br /><br /><strong>Who would you have chosen for People&rsquo;s Sexiest Man Alive 2011? Serious answers only, please.</strong><br />Not that Cooper clown, I can tell you that. I know the Gosling kid&#39;s got a lotta heat around him, but he&#39;s not seasoned enough for me. If you even try to float those vacant-eyed children from the goddamn <em>Twilight </em>movies, I will push you to the ground and call you a halfwit. I gotta go Clooney. I know - this choice wins zero points for novelty. But LOOK at the guy, man. He makes Jon Hamm look like a burn victim whose facial reconstruction was badly botched. Clooney is a full-on buffet of delish.<br /><br /><strong>How does it feel to be the 297th person interviewed for Zulkey.com?</strong><br />Good news for you, Claire: bottom of barrel reached. You may discontinue scraping.</p></p> Fri, 02 Dec 2011 16:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/claire-zulkey/2011-12-02/ian-belknap-interview-94536 5 Machete Questions with Samantha Irby, NKOTB fan http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-04/5-machete-questions-samantha-irby-nkotb-fan-93763 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-November/2011-11-04/samanthairby.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Samantha Irby is the&nbsp;indefatigable blogger behind <a href="http://bitchesgottaeat.com">Bitches Gottta Eat</a>&nbsp;and <a href="http://irbyandian.com">Irby and Ian</a>, a collaboration with <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-16/5-machete-questions-ian-belknap-dean-mean-92088">Write Club misanthrope Ian Belknap</a>. Since she takes guff from nobody, her return to the <em>Machete</em> is highly anticipated.</p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="caption" height="333" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-04/samanthairby.jpg" title="Samantha Irby at her last 'Machete' performance (Photo by Ali Weiss Klingler)" width="500"></p><div><b>1. What's got your goat this week, and how will you be approaching it in <em>The Paper Machete</em>?</b></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>My goat has been&nbsp;<em>firmly</em>&nbsp;gotten by the minotaur slash unicorn also known as the African-American political conservative. In other words, I will be tackling&nbsp;the modern-day minstrel show that is Herman Cain's ascendance to the top of the heap of Republicans vying to wrestle the Presidency out of Barack Obama's wealth-redistributing clutches.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>2. If you could be watching any college football game this Saturday instead off ranting at <em>The Paper Machete</em>, it would be...</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Whichever teams play "shirts" versus "skins." In other words, do community colleges have competitive&nbsp;football teams?</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>3. In your entire schooling, what was the subject you in which you performed most poorly? Have you been required to demonstrate knowledge of that subject since?</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>I hated chemistry with a vengeance. My experiments always failed&nbsp;or exploded wrong and I only passed the class&nbsp;because I'm really good at guessing multiple choice final exams. And cheating off of smart people.&nbsp;<br> <br> I haven't had a real&nbsp;boyfriend in six years. I OBVIOUSLY should've paid more attention to forming&nbsp;covalent bonds and sticking atoms together.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>4. a) Name your favorite Biblical character or New Kid on the Block, and give at least one sentence of explanation. b) Name your least favorite&nbsp;<strong>Biblical character or New Kid on the Block</strong>&nbsp;and give at least one sentence of explanation.</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>a) OMGOMGOMG. When I was ten my bedroom was PAPERED with the NKOTB pictures I'd torn out of Bop magazine; I could play "The Right Stuff" on the piano,&nbsp;I had New Kids: notebooks, Trapper Keeper folders, stickers,&nbsp;<em>all</em>&nbsp;of their tapes and cassingles, shoelaces, and I a VIP fan club membership; plus I called the New Kids chat line every single day and ordered their pay-per-view concert without my mother's consent&nbsp;<em>twice</em>. I received a very stern talking-to when she finally received a&nbsp;two hundred dollar&nbsp;cable bill and EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLAR PHONE BILL in the same month, and then she threw out all of my posters and told me to go outside for once and make some real friends. Even as a child I was well aware of my place on the bottom rung of the social ladder, and my crushes reflected that knowledge. So Jonathan, the slightly older not even marginally attractive one openly gay now that he's an adult one, was my absolute favorite. He seemed like he'd be a really good listener.<br> <br> a) Jordan was the worst, obviously. Too pretty, too popular, nicest singing voice, and ALL the other girls wanted him. Like I said: I AIM LOW.<br> &nbsp;</div><div><strong>5. As a member of the Chicago performance-art community, what lucrative career do you now wish you'd chosen to pursue instead?</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Am I the only writer jerk who has a real job and isn't trying to support&nbsp;myself on the fourteen cents you make from Google ads? As long as I have a clock to punch, I could do this forever. I'm totally lying. My other choice of career is Immigrant Megamillions Lottery Winner.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><a href="http://thepapermacheteshow.com/" target="_blank">The Paper Machete</a>&nbsp;<em>is a weekly live magazine at the Horseshoe in North Center. It's always at 3 pm, it's always on Saturday, and it's always free. Listen to the most recent&nbsp;</em>The Paper Machete Radio Magazine<em>&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-02/paper-machete-radio-magazine-halloween-show-guest-host-josh-zagoren">here</a>, or download it from iTunes&nbsp;<a href="http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-paper-machete-radio-magazine/id450280345" target="_blank">here</a>.</em></div></p> Fri, 04 Nov 2011 14:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-04/5-machete-questions-samantha-irby-nkotb-fan-93763 5 Machete Questions with Ian Belknap, the Dean of Mean http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-16/5-machete-questions-ian-belknap-dean-mean-92088 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-September/2011-09-16/smellcrap.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Surly but studious Ian Belknap is <em>The Paper Machete</em>'s official Dean of Mean. He's also the host of the hit spoken-word show WRITE CLUB at the Hideout; the next show is Tuesday September 27 at 7 pm. We've asked him to play 5 Machete questions.</p><div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-16/smellcrap.jpg" title="WRITE CLUB host Ian Belknap" width="500" height="272"></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>1. What's stuck in your craw this week, and how will you be approaching it in the Machete?</strong></div><blockquote><div>I'll be the first to concede that my craw is an exceptionally tiny aperture, in which stuff is GUARANTEED to get stuck. You could drop me in the middle of a sun-dappled meadow, throw a rock in any direction, and hit something that would piss me off. I believe that if you are not beside yourself with rage - I'm talking about really verging on the berserk more or less all the time - then you're just not paying attention. But this week in particular it is the phenomenon of the Renaissance Celebrity - the film star who has a parenting blog, the singer who publishes a book, etc. The epic self-absorption of these people and the towering presumption implicit in their insistence that they are qualified or entitled to occupy new and uncharted swaths of the Attention Landscape is sickening to me, and I want it stopped. My approach will be to persuade people that it is past time that somebody use Gwyneth Paltrow as a weapon to beat James Franco to death. My plan is rock solid. Justice shall be ours. Take back the night.</div></blockquote><div><strong>2. If you could do anything else on this Saturday afternoon besides perform against your will in the Paper Machete, it would be...</strong></div><blockquote><div>Swatting that Antonin Scalia in his face with one of those long-handled pizza paddles. Or launching "author" Dan Brown down those stone steps from "The Exorcist". Or dragging Glenn Beck around by his eyelids. Or executing bankers. Or napping. Probably napping, most likely. This time of year? Some classic napping weather.</div></blockquote><div><strong>3. In your entire schooling, what was the subject you in which you performed most poorly? Have you been required to demonstrate knowledge of that subject since?</strong></div><blockquote><div>Physics. Totally sucked at physics. Completely eluded me. Every time an object is launched at me, which happens with greater frequency than I care to admit, actually, it serves as a disastrous reminder of&nbsp;</div>my failure to grasp the fundamentals of physics.</blockquote><div><strong>4. a) Name your favorite Palin or Smurf, and give at least one sentence of explanation. b) Name your least favorite Palin or Smurf, and give at least one sentence of explanation.</strong></div><blockquote><div>a) Track. The one you never hear a goddamn word about. And it's completely unfair to ask that single out any one Smurf, since they are, as a species, uniformly delightful. b) In descending order of the malice I bear them: Sarah, Bristol, Todd, Sheeran, Willow and Trig. In a fire, I would save the latter three. If there were no dogs in the house.</div></blockquote><p><strong>5. As a member of the Chicago performance-art community, what lucrative career do you now wish you'd chosen to pursue instead?&nbsp;</strong></p><blockquote><div>There is no greater or more rewarding work than what I do. As long as one does not measure "reward" in money. Or recognition.&nbsp;</div><div>Or fulfillment.&nbsp;</div>Or prestige.&nbsp;<div>Or contentment.&nbsp;</div><div>But if I HAD to select another path, I'd rather be a provost someplace.</div></blockquote><div><a href="http://thepapermacheteshow.com/">The Paper Machete</a><em>&nbsp;is a weekly live magazine at the Horseshoe in North Center. It's always at 3 pm, it's always on Saturday, and it's always free. Listen to the most recent&nbsp;</em>The Paper Machete Radio Magazine <em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-14/paper-machete-radio-magazine-91011-passage-time-91994">here</a>, or download it from iTunes <a href="http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-paper-machete-radio-magazine/id450280345">here</a>.</em></div></p> Fri, 16 Sep 2011 18:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-16/5-machete-questions-ian-belknap-dean-mean-92088