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Month: September 2018

Respect The Nerds

ByonwithComments Off on Respect The Nerds

RESPECT THE NERDS

We live in a paradoxical world. Cities are banning plastic straws, but machine guns are A­OK. It’s cool to pop opiates if they’re prescribed, but don’t you dare touch that green stuff, Cynthia Nixon.

The most prevalent and perhaps the most important societal paradox that deserves our utmost attention is the fact that normal, everyday people are—and I shudder to say it—are now calling themselves nerds to seem cool.

I’m not saying all nerds are phonies. I’m just saying that buying a Dark Knight poster and downloading a few comics doesn’t make someone a Batman nerd. Being a nerd is less casual than that.

So what does it actually mean to be a nerd? How can we tell if someone is a nerd if everyone else is claiming they’re nerds as well? To answer these crucial questions as nerd culture bursts into the mainstream, we should look back to see who the real O.G. nerds are.

Patton Oswalt wrote an article for Wired on the deterioration of geek culture. In the article, Oswalt relates the Japanese word otaku—meaning one who has “obsessive, minute interests”—to nerds such as himself.

Oswalt says that traditional geeks have obsessive, minute interests in the things they like. It could be a comic book series, a movie, an underground band, or cats.

However, Oswalt believes that due to the internet, the depth and meaning of otaku—as it relates to nerds—is stripped away. Thanks to the world wide web, all it takes now is a quick Google search to find The Green Lantern’s backstory and *boom* you think you’re a super nerd.

Well it wasn’t that easy for the O.G. nerds back in the day. These are the nerds who had to wait for the next issue of Watchmen to come out instead of downloading it onto their computer. In the time these O.G. nerds spent waiting for the next issue, they went back, re­read, and studied the old issues. They didn’t have the convenience of the internet—they had to work with what they physically had.

Comedian Tom Franck is an O.G. nerd and deserves the same kind of respect Oswalt calls for in his Wired article. Franck grew up in the time of having to wait for the next episode of that super robot show. In fact, he is a renowned collector of Japanese robot toys. Here’s a video of Franck showing—with an obsessive and minutely detailed explanation—his robot collection.

That’s as otaku as otaku gets, ladies and gentlemen.

O.G. nerds deserve respect not only because they’re passionate enough about their interests to explore them in obsessively, but also because they do it against the flow of the mainstream. Not following the mainstream is what made nerds uncool. They rejected the norm and obsessively studied their quirky personal interests.

But now the mainstream is flowing in a nerdy direction. Superhero films are everywhere. Graphic novels are consistently being adapted into television shows. Comic­con has been growing consistently for the past several years. There’s something for everyone out there. People now know the distinction between anime and hentai. Crazy. The point is that nerd interests are now everyone’s interests.

So where are the nerds now? They’re still out there—some are probably just a little harder to find. Your Average Joe might be able to name every Avenger, but a true O.G. might be familiar with every comic backstory to every Avenger hero ever written from every issue.

This can be applied to people of different interests as well. It’s nice that Average Joe might know the names of dog breeds, but can he look at a mutt and tell what breeds are mixed in?

So next time you call yourself a nerd, think about how passionate the O.G’s are about their interests. Think about how much time goes into learning about your interest. Think about how common your interest is.

I am not a nerd. Maybe one day I will find something I can go otaku­crazy for—but currently, I cannot make claim to nerd culture—as it is not my own. I understand that there’s no shame in that. But most importantly, there’s no shame in being an O.G. nerd.

On Thursday, October 4 (right after the first day of Comic­con!) Stand Up NY will host Tom Franck’s comedy series “Comics and Comics”—which features O.G. comic nerds. Franck, the creator of “Comics and Comics”, is a seasoned comedian with appearances on Comedy Central and SyFy. Reserve your FREE tickets here!]

Written by Will Flaherty

Twitter: WillFlah3rty

Instagram: WillFlah3rty

A Musing: Meet Your New Blog Contributor Who Talks About His Feelings

ByonwithComments Off on A Musing: Meet Your New Blog Contributor Who Talks About His Feelings

A Musing: Meet Your New Blog Contributor Who Talks About His Feelings

I work at a fancy country club in addition to my internship at Stand Up NY. On the first day, my boss took me to a garage where I was told to clean golf carts.

“You know, we usually hire, like, 16 year olds to do your job,” he said. “I’m used to telling these kids over and over again how to do everything. You seem to be picking it up pretty well, though.”

I was flabbergasted. This man was genuinely trying to compliment my work ethic by telling me I’m better than high schoolers. It made me feel like the smartest kid on the short bus.

What do I even say to that besides, “yeah, no shit?” I settled with giving him the same kind of “thanks” you give to someone that hands you a flyer on the street.

But what my boss said also made me think: Is this really where I want to be?

I just moved to New York after living in my parents’ apartment as a post-grad with a creative writing degree. During that time with my parents, I slowly rotted from the inside out as I tried and failed to get entry-level jobs at hip startup companies in Boston. These are the kind of places with ping-pong tables and free beer in the break room to help you forget about that client who told you to go fuck yourself.

I realized that if my job involves being glued to a phone attempting to upsell clients all day, I’d hate my life. So I moved to New York. And now I clean golf carts.

But I also stumbled upon this opportunity to intern at Stand Up NY. For the first time, I get to see what it’s like to work for a company that promotes something deeply important to me: creativity.

In college, the only thing I was truly passionate about was my own writing. I enjoyed sitting down to craft poems, stories, and essays. I did it as much as I could, because I knew that once I graduate, I’d have a real job doing real work for a real company. I never had faith that I’d find something I enjoy doing.

But here I am, writing on a blog that maybe 12 people skim. I may be on the very bottom rung of the ladder for now, but it’s a start. So yes, I really am where I want to be and I’m willing to do worse things than clean golf carts to make sure I am here for a while.

In the golf cart garage, my boss told me he was leaving me alone for a minute. He said to clean a couple golf carts while he was gone. He left me for an hour. When he came back, I had every golf cart cleaned.

“Wow. You definitely aren’t a 16 year old,” he said.

Yeah, no shit. What else do you need me to do?

Article written by Will Flaherty

Twitter: WillFlah3rty

Instagram: WillFlah3rty

C.K. Calling, Who Will Pick Up?

ByonwithComments Off on C.K. Calling, Who Will Pick Up?

At the myriad of notorious comedy clubs scattered across New York City, it is part of the game for big-name comics to drop in unannounced for a set. Before they can grace the stage, however, it is under the discretion of those running the club that night–be it a booker, manager, owner, whoever ranks highest–whether their stage is one that needs any gracing. With Louis C.K. evidently back on the scene, and executing that surprise-visit technique flawlessly, the protocols for this drop-in method become, well, a bit more blurred, and a lot more dependent on who is making the decision.

When looking at C.K.’s talk-of-the-town rebirth at the Comedy Cellar the other week, he was reportedly welcomed back with open arms, as shown by the club owners who were comfortable with having him and the crowd who gave him a standing ovation. The Twitter world’s uproar was largely to the opposite effect. The consensus is that his “time to listen” has not nearly been long enough nor filled with any sort of restitution. The fact of the matter is that just like each audience–from comedy club patrons in the flesh to Tweeters to fans in general–is comprised of differing opinions, so is the workforce of a comedy club. If and when C.K. strolls in to do a set at our club, his request to perform will receive a different answer depending on the night.

So what is the role of a booker or owner in this situation? The stage is a vessel, a platform for art, opinion, thought, trial and error. Is it the club’s duty to bring even a controversial comic on stage for the sake of keeping the flow of said vessel? How does that reflect on the club as a whole, from reputation to revenue?

In a post on her take on the situation, one of our bookers concluded that though she is not a “judge, jury, cop, or ‘comedy’ police” she definitely reserves the right to say ‘no’ if Louie were to walk in and ask to jump on stage. “I wouldn’t make a scene, I wouldn’t call attention to it. I would simply say, ‘I’m afraid it’s not possible,’” she wrote. However, if it were, say, a Tuesday instead of Thursday, with a different set of staff on deck and a different person at the top to say yay or nay, our audience would be hearing some new, hot-off-the-presses C.K. material that night.

There are a couple takes on this that can be outlined immediately to support a yes or no answer to a drop-in by Louis C.K. Both want to ensure that “vessel” concept of the stage. For one, we want to foster a creative, kick-ass space for comics to spit their stuff, perfect it, play with it, and give an audience a night out to remember that they know they can relive any night of the week just by coming in. We want to provide enjoyment, excitement, entertainment. That partially means creating a safe space for that creativity to flow, for that enjoyment to be had unapologetically. One could say C.K. definitely compromised and may continue to compromise the safety of a working environment. Who are we to let him in to jeopardize it again? On the other hand, some say that #MeToo offenders, namely Louis C.K., should be able to “serve their time and move on”. A considerable number of folks are hankering to see Louis back in the comedy game, and who are we to deny audiences that if he is ready to give them a show?

So where does that leave the audience, the unsuspecting patrons of the club on any given evening? Many on Twitter say, if you are a champion of #MeToo-related causes, that it is your obligation to get up and leave if you were to be a member of an audience like the one at the Cellar who received C.K. the other week. I can’t help but wonder, though, if that expectation is a little far-fetched. Imagine, you’re at one of the most acclaimed comedy clubs in the city–maybe the world–and the once-adored now-social-pariah from whom no one has seen or heard in the comedy realm for months appears before your very eyes. Everyone around you gets on their feet. What is he going to say? You’re going to be one of the people who takes in the jokes of his very first comeback set. But, you know he did some really shitty things and put a number of women in what you can only imagine were really shitty situations, sometimes even in the workplace environment. What has he done in his time served to repent for the wrong he’s done to these women? How long has it even been anyway? Oh well, everyone around seems fine with it, and I may miss out on something if I leave.

Anyone getting deja-vu here? Louis put the Cellar audience that night in the same position as those women in the room over the years. The option is there to refuse, to say no, to “just leave”. But there is more to the equation than that. You feel like you ought to stay. Here he is, back from his sentence, whether you find it way too short or too long or just right, wielding that same power. If you were in the audience, what would you do when Louie stepped under the lights?

More importantly to the theme of this particular blog, would you feel like it is the club’s responsibility to not put you in that situation in the first place?

Louis being back on stage and the way he chose to go about it no doubt raises ample amounts of contrasting emotions and opinions. The decision-making is no longer just reserved for ownership. As a patron, as a booker, as an owner, as a general fan with a voice, what are you going to do when Louis C.K. inevitably calls? Trick question: he probably won’t call to let you know he’s on his way. He’ll just drop in.

Article written by Ellen Harrold

Instagram: @ellewoodz

Twitter: @whorsdoeuvres