Adventures Fact and Fiction

Adventure: an exciting or remarkable experience; an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks; an unusual experience, often bold, with an uncertain outcome.

The usual protocol of performing an image search on the topic results in a wide array of terrific photos.  Skydivers silhouetted against the setting sun.  Rock climbers dangling precariously by their fingertips from vertigo-inducing precipices.  Hoar-frosted hikers triumphant on the peaks of tors.  Whitewater rafters.  Off-road truckers.  Scuba divers.

All the sorts of people who consider our spinning blue marble a tableau for adventure.

Sprinkled throughout the selection were a few random representations of what i’d expected to see more of, which i suppose might more aptly be called “high adventure.”  Of these, i conclude their inclusion was due only to the presence of the word “adventure” in their titles.  Here’s an example:

Adventure Time sounds kind of familiar, like i’ve probably read something about it in the past.  Can’t say as i’ve ever seen it though.  From what i understand, the program is “heavily inspired by the fantasy role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons,” and frankly my expectations were to find a never-ending slew of sword- and spell-wielding heroic types to visually represent the concept of adventure.  Naturally, i understand that term is not wholly rooted in genre-specific material.  On the other hand, i thought my Google+ knew me a little better than that.  Outdoor adventure in the real world?  It’s me, Google+.

Hey – guess what?  “High adventure” isn’t what i thought either.  If i’m honest, after reading the first few words of the site description that showed “…typically is meant to include activities like backpacking, hiking, kayaking or canoeing…” i was expecting to the remainder to read something like “…while under the influence of marijuana.” or something along those lines.  But no!  Turns out what my preconceived notions were about adventure both high and everyday were incorrect.  At this point, the entire premise of this post is taking on water from the giant holes in the hull.

What gives?

Now i am sailing through seas filled with questions.  Is opposing the Big Bad Evil Guy the fantasy equivalent of mountain climbing?  Does anyone pursue extreme sports challenges in the mythical realms of literature populated by monsters?  Why does adventure fiction always incorporate violence, when factual adventure necessitates nothing of the sort?  Is this dissection of adventure going to morph into a discussion of violence in media?  Maybe, more than likely yes, to appeal to baser instincts, and no – although it would not be difficult.

Recently, i put the question to a few others: “You are transported to a fantasy realm (think Middle Earth) via a magical amusement park ride – do you quest to return home or remain in this land of swords, sorcery, and good vs. evil?”  Today, i fully expected this heretofore meandering wall of text to draw primarily from that well.  For the uninitiated or unaware, that is the basic premise behind the 1980s animated Dungeons and Dragons program.  As you may imagine, as an embryonic geek of 6 or 7 who’d only just discovered D&D through his older brother’s classic “Red Box,” this cartoon was a watershed moment in my development.  While other kids dreamt of being fire fighters, astronauts, and cops when they grew up, my vision was being shaped every Saturday morning.  What did i want to be when i grew up?  Why, a shaggy-haired teen pulled through time and space to battle fearsome beasts for treasure, of course.  My only gripe with the show was the recurring plot to find a way back home.  Are you kidding me?  There ain’t no magic loot in suburbia.  On the other hand, no constant threat to your well-being either.  At least not in the overt, rampaging-monsters-coming-to-destroy-you way.  Looking back now, and sifting through that perspective a bit, kind of weirds me out.  Not the most constructive view of escapism.

***Spoiler Alert***

The kids never do complete the quest to return home.  However!  There is a final, unproduced episode wherein the party of young adventurers do win a possible ticket back to their world.  And like any good serial, the ending is inconclusive.  Actually, now that i think about it, a great story doesn’t need an opening for future development.  Even a tale with a definitive closing could be reopened later.  Just sometimes it’s easier than others, i suppose.  Anyway, the script for the final episode, titled “Requiem,” is available to read online if you’re interested.  Here’s a link.

Boy, i can’t tell you how many times i’ve fantasized about discovering a portal that lead to a magical world.  In the interest of full disclosure, i’ll admit that even into my 20’s, the little sliver of childhood hope still lay embedded in my mind.  It would be a lie to say there weren’t moments hiking through majestic forests where i secretly harbored a faint desire to find such a thing.  Way back when my friends and i haphazardly took a one-way trek across the pond, we packed as if prepared for anything – including a possible dungeon delve.  On some level, we reasoned that Europe’s millennia of civilization must mean there’s scattered ruins just standing around waiting to be explored.  Right?  We truly had a mind for high adventure.

Those foolhardy tactics did result in a positive outcome though – our packs lightened significantly as we routinely discarded completely unnecessary doodads along the way.  In our defense, it’s better to have a 50′ rope and not need it, than need one and not have it.  Give me a little credit too – we declined to take a 10′ pole.  If i ever do something like that again, i will definitely have learned from my prior experience.  A couple of changes of clothes, some toiletries, a few sundry items, and slightly more than recommended socks and undies.  Anything else you can get on the road.

Now, what i should have taken from the infatuation of the fantastic was the force behind such conventions – the creators.  Maybe in a roundabout way i did, a little bit at least, and that led me down the path of writing.  And as you can tell it has served me well – i can type and put in medication orders really fast!  Somebody has to put pen to paper for all that stuff right?  But as a wildly unsupervised and undisciplined youth, building a foundation for the rest of my life wasn’t something i or anyone else in my life was too cognizant of reinforcing.

Take someone like Richard Garriott.  Instead of just enjoying the immersion of Ultima, the conceit of which puts you as the player (sort of) in the role of hero in another world, the smart bet would have been to realize that the man behind the franchise is the real adventurer.  i know what you’re thinking – look at that dork.  Here’s a guy who doesn’t just go to the Medieval Faire – he’s part of the show too!  Seriously though, the guy parlayed a penchant for programming into a life as “pioneering game developer, explorer, adventurer, award-winning entrepreneur, and global ambassador for space travel privatization.”  He’s been to space on his own dime, for chrissakes.  And his house has secret passageways and an observatory.  Pretty sweet deal.  i bet when he’s at home he wears a cloak, too.  The real question – how far does the fantasy-esque world he’s built for himself go?  If you were to, let’s say, smash a random vase or box within his domicile, would you find coins inside?

All of that, sprung from this.  That’s some adventure.

For the past eight years, National Geographic observes an Adventurer of the Year listing.  The award recognizes individuals for extraordinary achievements in exploration, conservation, humanitarianism, and adventure sports.  In 2006, Ed Viesturs became the first Adventurer of the Year for his accomplishments as a climber and high-altitude mountaineer.  If there is a climbing related feat to be fought, the man has bested it.

Aside from Mr. Viesturs, the list of past honorees includes mostly what i’m coming to realize encapsulates the idea of adventure – daring athletes.  But to be fair, a smattering a other risk-takers are entrenched alongside their perhaps more physical counterparts.  A filmmaker.  A journalist.  A scientist.

You know, at this point i’m glad my preconceived notions about adventure had been so off course.  The tales of glory and conquest that came to mind previous to this week’s research actually seem flimsy by comparison.  Maybe it’s just the gossamer vestiges of some primal masculinity drifting away, but i am happy to re-discover the idea of adventure not as a test of might between opposing forces, but instead as a self-imposed challenge by humans to overcome the limitations placed on ourselves and thereby achieve something outstanding.

A recently as a few moments ago, i was talking with my mom about, well i guess you could say “the state of things.”  We were discussing basically a paradigm shift in our culture.  Without getting too much into it, essentially it was two adults lamenting the change in the way things were and how they are now.  One of those good ol’ “when i was younger…” conversations.

That sort of thinking was a pinch of seasoning in the adventure stew that really brought it together for me though.  Before hopping back into the computer jockey chair to punch up the rest of this, i had to take a breather and consider the possibilities.

Adventure Stew

On one hand, it’s pretty easy to get discouraged by hardships and obstacles that we encounter everyday of our lives.  Big or small, there’s a lot of them and i’m not embarrassed to admit i’ve fallen victim to these traps probably more often than not.

On the other…on the other hand aren’t these pitfalls and roadblocks the very things that make up the adventure of all our lives?

A friend of mine as of a few weeks ago is a new parent.  First time.  He’s not the most open fellow when it comes to that mushy expressing feelings sort of stuff, so it was not completely unreasonable for his response to be a little less enthusiastic when i asked him if everything in the world felt different once he held the kid for the first time.  i’m not a parent, so i don’t know if that’s what happens or not, but it seems like the general consensus is such.  One caveat there: my outlook is probably colored more by television and movies than real life stuff – i don’t have a very large social circle nor am i close with many people that have children.

Anyway, that really got me thinking about the adventure of life.  And it really is, is it not?  Even the most droll of us could likely summon a story or two about remarkable events we’ve been part of.  Danger and unknown risks?  We’ve all got that in spades from the cradle to the grave.  Simply as organisms on earth, by comparison our individual ability to survive is greatly outpaced by countless other creatures.  One of my two pet cats was found alone in the woods at three or four weeks old.  It is amazing she survived like that, but she did and now she is attached (sometimes uncomfortably so) to the female companion of my own life adventure.  As far as risk goes, hell we do that everyday on the road – or does it really seem all that safe piloting a metal box upwards of 60mph with hundreds of others doing the same?  Hundreds of others who, as i’m sure we all swear under our breaths from time to time, we consider the stupid masses.  Good thing to bear in mind – you are part of someone else’s stupid masses, too.

And finally, a bold undertaking with uncertain outcomes.  i think the secret to the whole thing lies hidden right there.  Uncertain outcomes is a granted.  We really never know for certain what’s going to happen, even though we can make some logical conclusions.

The core of an adventure, whether set within fiction or fact, is the willingness to be BOLD.  Isn’t that the thing all adventurers have in common?  Joseph Campbell’s monomyth aside, boldness is the litmus test for adventure.  If the Fellowship hadn’t been bold, then the Third Age would have come to a close in utter darkness.  If Peter Parker weren’t bold, then Aunt May would have died from the radioactive material in her blood and Spidey would have either been drowned or crushed in “The Final Chapter!”  And if real life humans weren’t so bold, would we have climbed the highest peaks?  Explored the deepest depths?  Walked on the moon?

But all that extraordinary stuff aside, i don’t think we have to all quite reach for those lofty heights to achieve a satisfying adventure.  Being bold equates to being fearless in the face of danger.  And in a lot of ways, the opposite of fear is love – something fraught with danger.  Maybe not as often physical, although who hasn’t dodged a thrown object or two?  But definitely there’s emotional danger.  You put yourself out there all open and exposed, and talk about uncertain outcomes amiright?

So that’s what i’ll leave you with today.  i have to admit, this here post itself sure resulted in an unexpected outcome.  Ideas about fantasy adventures abounded and i was going to travel with you through that hidden portal to a few of my favorite realms to see what we’d find there.

Instead i discovered that much more often than not, adventure doesn’t have anything to do with defeating bad guys, acquiring treasures, or saving the world from the forces of evil.

Adventure is happening all around us, all day every day.  Quest-givers are everywhere, and rewards await anyone willing to put aside their fear and face the world alternatively with love.  And i know, it’s scary to take risks in any situation.  i’m no different in that respect.  Maybe even moreso, as i’ve let apprehension hold sway when i shouldn’t have in a variety of scenarios.

It’s a helluva lot easier in fiction, where the parameters are more clearly laid out.

“Defeat this singular force of evil and this tangible reward is yours,” is the basic premise in adventuresome literature, games, shows and movies.

“Make your way through a world filled with uncertainty, all the while keeping an open heart and a wonder for all the amazing possibilities, with little to no clear objective, and the knowledge that whatever your intentions are at the outset will very likely change completely along the way,” is the briefest summary i can attain for the adventure of real life.

Given those two descriptions, i’d say the latter requires more boldness than the former.  Outline what needs to be done and it sounds a little bit easier to me.  But it’s more empowering too, if less clear.

We can choose whatever adventure we want, and the only opposition is within ourselves.

Thanks for visiting!  Here’s a reward for all your hard work.  It’s only tangentially related to the above ramblings.  But it is a good song from some terrific musicians.  Enjoy.


Saying funny things

Comedian: a professional entertainer who tells jokes or performs various other comic acts; a person who seeks to entertain an audience, primarily by making them laugh.

“A comic says funny things. A comedian says things funny.”

Ed Wynn

Here’s another story that begins in Kent, Ohio oddly enough.  Comic and entertainer Chad Zumock hails from the notable Midwestern town, which i guess you can pretty much consider a suburb of Cleveland.  While traveling out of state, it gives people a good idea where you’re from.  Better than triangulating your origin dropping Akron, or Youngstown.  Possibly, someone might recognize the city where the rubber tires are from, or the one-time murder capital.  And of course, you’ll have your “that town Neil Young sang about?”  But up near the shores of the Great Lake Erie, we’re all pretty much Clevelanders.

Arguably one of the staunchest of us, Zumock practically bleeds…whatever it is that’s essentially C-Town.  Most of the stuff we’re known for doesn’t sound too appealing.  Awful winters, rivers of fire, riots, um…sports franchises that, well frankly i’m not qualified to really comment on.  When i overhear people talking about ‘the game’ last night i have no idea what sport they’re talking about; if i talk about ‘the game’ last night, more than likely it’s Dungeons and Dragons.

But who wants to say their interviewee bleeds rivers of fire?  Actually, that sounds kind of cool.  Anyway, what’s most remarkable about Cleveland is the determination.  That’s right.  If it weren’t, then Warren would probably be the big city of today, instead of the place i played my first Vs. tournament, discovered card sleeves, and totally thought my Spider-Friends/Sentinels deck was a work of brilliance sure to own.  Yep, the ol’ Western Reserve was pretty swampy, risky territory to build a metropolis on.  But here we are 217 years later, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Capital of the World.

Sadly, it did not.  Stupid Roy Harper tricks.  Threw a few people off though.

If nothing else, my conversation with Zumock taught me an important lesson – Wikipedia is not always accurate.  According to the free encyclopedia, or what i like to think of as the respository for all human knowledge, Zumock grew up in Brady Lake.

“I didn’t really grow up there,” Zumock said.  “I don’t know who wrote that.”

Who does write all that stuff on Wikipedia?  Whether it’s a large staff of exceptional typists, user-generated content, or both – that’s a hell of a lot of data entry.  But i digress.

A career built on writing comedy clinched for Zumock in the fifth grade, when he and a friend created a cartoon called ‘Channel 9 News.’

“It was a whole news station,” Zumock said.  “We wrote it for three years together, and we’d just pass them back and forth.  We had all these characters.  I was always creative in that sense.

“I always wanted some sort of attention.  Comedy was a release, because my childhood kind of sucked.  I think comedy saved me.”

Following what i am certain must be an annoyingly over-covered public termination from his three-year stint as co-host of the Alan Cox Show on 100.7 WMMS, what must be most troubling for Zumock is the mar on his consistent record of leaving things on his own terms.  By his own admission, he has a penchant for quitting.

“I’ve always been that way,” Zumock said.  “I’ll start a group or something, and then as soon as the group gets big – I’ll quit.  That’s been my whole career.

“My sketch group the Phat Phive – it got big, I quit at the height of popularity.  Last Call got huge – I quit.  Phat Phree got huge – I quit.  I’m the best guy when it comes to starting something, and then I’ll disappear.

“But creatively it’s been great.  I’m excited about doing other stuff.  I’ve been approached by a lot of people to do different things.  Now I’m just trying to figure…it’s like I broke up with a really hot chick, and now I just kind of want to be single.”

In light of that, i’m going to go ahead and consider Zumock’s split with the Buzzard as a quit, too.  At least in the metaphysical, ‘we all make choices,’ Sliding Doors sort of way.  There’s nothing wrong with a quit.  At least one person has built their whole life around the concept.

Developing a concept and proceeding to move on once it gains traction is Zumock’s modus operandi and so far the routine has proven an effective one for the entertainer.  Along the way, he has assembled an eclectic crew of collaborators whose presence is interwoven in several projects.  One of the earliest of these is the afore-mentioned Phat Phive Productions, a Kent collective of creators responsible for a myriad of material including film, ‘zines, and reportedly even a clothing line, circa 1999.  More than one name from those early days is sprinkled throughout the timeline of Zumock’s career including Phat Phiver Charlie DeMarco and Mike Polk.

At the risk of threatening Zumock’s guise as a goldbricker, this is a guy who shows all the hallmarks of an ambitious approach to life.

“I don’t know how to do anything else,” Zumock said.  “It’s like those word jumbles.  What are those things in the newspaper?  Crosswords.  I kind of look at comedy like that.  Trying to figure things out.  I like coming up with funny ideas. It’s addicting and it’s part of my routine.”

In the same vein as the other interviewees i’ve had the pleasure of speaking with here on The Long Shot, the one constant in his career (and one thing he doesn’t quit) is that he stays busy and continuously works to improve his craft.

While i don’t know a whole lot about his years at Kent State academically speaking, the General Studies degree-holder did not squander his time there.  In addition to the Phat Phive, Zumock was involved with the sketch comedy group Last Call – which has since evolved into the Last Call Cleveland troupe that features Mike Polk.  And that ‘zine?  These days it’s become The Phat Phree following the success of Look at My Striped Shirt!: Confessions of the People You Love To Hate.

“When my buddies and I in high school started that thing, I invited my Last Call friends to write for it,” Zumock said.  “Polk started writing for it.  That article he wrote, ‘Look at my Striped Shirt,’ just blew up on the Internet, before Internet videos were getting really big.

“There were meetings in Hollywood with my friends to do TV shows because of it.  Mike got a job with HBO from that article.  And then we got a book deal from Random House, and we all wrote for it.  Just a bunch of friends writing it.

“We started it as a writing exercise and it kind of blew up into something and actually Mad Magazine and offered to buy the Phat Phree [website].  Charlie DeMarco is an amazing design dude.  To this day I still don’t know why he didn’t sell it to them.  It’s still out there.”

With that being said, you’d think these victories in the realms of publishing and performances were the impetus for Zumock’s relocation to L.A. in 2005.  But if you did, you’d be wrong.  In fact, the cause for the move was a trend i’ve noticed since starting to do these interviews.

“I moved out to L.A. because my girlfriend lived there,” Zumock said.  “And I wanted to do my own thing.

“If you were going to move to L.A., you’d better have a plan, and you’d better have money saved.  I went out there blind.  I didn’t know.  I was like ‘I’m in L.A.!’  I didn’t know what to do.  I kind of fell into stand-up.  I had a pretty decent 7 minutes.  So I’d do the same 7 minutes everywhere I went, and I was killing.

“I got passed at the Hollywood Improv.  Then I went on the road with Sarah Silverman, and Tosh, but all I had was seven minutes.  I was like ‘I gotta get out of here before this implodes.’  I’d move back home to develop my stand-up more, then I’d fly back out there and showcase.  As I was moving back out there again, that’s when I got the call from Bo Matthews over at ‘MMS for the Alan Cox Show, and I put that on hold for three years.”

During his time on the radio, Zumock admits that while it was a little stifling to the other aspects of his career, it was a cool three years wherein a lot of cool shit happened.

“I don’t regret the experience by any means,” Zumock said.  “I got to go to Ireland.  I hung out with Shaquille O’Neal.  Talked to Bill Clinton.  There’s cool experiences you can never take away.   I think the planets were aligned.

“Alan, Erika, and myself were just thrown into a room.  Three people who would probably not hang out, outside of work.  The personalities were just perfect, and it became a really, really, really popular show.  That was a cool thing.

“I put a lot of time and energy into making it good.  I’m glad people like it.  And don’t get me wrong – there’s people that hate my guts too.  And that’s fine.”

Perhaps the best example of the possibilities of love and hatred is an event that Zumock considers his biggest accomplishment of last year – the Fifty Shades of Gray book burn that he put together.

“I came up with it on the air,” Zumock said.  “I remember telling Alan during a break – ‘dude, we’ve got to do this.’  So I put it together and the next thing you know it’s on every news station in the country.  I thought that was pretty funny. It was a good radio stunt.”

Following his departure from the legendary Cleveland radio station at the end of 2012, Zumock remains undaunted.  Well…maybe a little daunted – but he’s certainly not letting it keep him down and out.

“At first, obviously, with all the legal stuff – at first it stinks,” Zumock said.  “It’s nice to have that comfortable paycheck coming in every week.  Losing your job publicly, and everywhere you go everyone knows your business.  For the most part people have been really cool and supportive.  But, it stinks.

“I don’t subscribe to the cliche saying ‘things happen for a reason,’ but they tend to, it seems like.  All the stuff that’s ever happened to me, I can look back on it now and say ‘oh, okay I get it.

“Right now, I’m in such a weird transition that I don’t really have a routine.  I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.  I’m doing all kinds of stuff.”

These days, Zumock’s routine (or lack thereof) goes a little something like this:

  • Roll out of bed around the crack of noon
  • Watch American Choppers marathon
  • Eat French bread pizza
  • Take a nap
  • Play on the Internet for a couple of hours
  • Go to a Cavs game

And he’ll be the first to tell you – it’s a rough life.  On the other hand, as a comic, an idle day of living free is analagous to research.  Don’t let him fool you.  If his past is any indication, Zumock undoubtedly has several other projects on the burner (that he likely plans to quit once they reach fruition).  The real measure of his career is the big picture – literally and figuratively.

“I always feel kind of bad when people categorize me as ‘just a stand-up,'” Zumock said.  “That’s just been a vehicle to take me places.  I came from a sketch background.  The thing I like doing more than anything is shooting video.

“I’m doing a TV show with my buddy Ryan Dalton.  He’s a comedian, and we’re having a fun time with it.  I’ve realized now, and when I had the other TV show – that’s what I really enjoy doing.

“But I love doing stand-up too.  It’s just another way to be creative.

“As cool as being on the radio was, it was a 9 to 5 job.  Because it’s corporate, and you have to deal with nonsense.  You’ve got to get yanked into an office for something you said, or something you did.  Something you’re not supposed to say.  You’re getting written up.  Somebody screwed something up in payroll.  Human resources.  It’s just…ugh.  I’ve never liked being told what to do.”

That ‘other TV show’ harkens back to his days with Last Call, when the then-fledgling troupe had their own program on public access.  As for the show with Dalton, the duo write, produce, and star in That’s Cleveland, a half hour sports comedy show on Sports Time Ohio.  According to Zumock, the show is getting shuffled around in regards to the premier date due to Fox Sports recent acquisition of the STO network.

“They aired the first episode,” Zumock said.  “It’s just been really weird.  Everything’s kind of just up in the air.  I feel like I’m trapped in some sort of weird world where nothing is concrete right now.  As fas as I know we still have a deal with them and they plan on airing us in the Spring.”

Outside of the show, Zumock has expressed interest in a weekly podcast as well. Because of a non-compete clause in his contract with WMMS, another radio gig isn’t at the top of his priorities right now, but the increasingly popular podcast arena definitely holds appeal for him.

“If I do it, I want to do it right,” Zumock said.  “I don’t want to just bullshit into a microphone.  I want production, and I want it to sound pretty sweet.  I just want to do it the right way.”

In fact, just recently on his Facebook page, the comic called for any parties interested in helping to hit him up.  So if you’re a whiz with that sort of thing, there’s an opportunity for you right there.  From experience, i can tell you Zumock is super approachable, and obviously more than willing to work with others to make things happen.

One of the most impressive things about Zumock and his ability to make things happen is that, for the most part, he shoulders the work himself.  Whether it’s one of his frequent stand-up gigs, TV appearances, or otherwise, the busy performer handles his own booking.

“I had a manager for a minute,” Zumock said.  “He basically wasn’t doing anything.  At this point, once you get into comedy clubs and they know who you are, you just kinda tell them your avails.”

As for those club shows, a number of them stand out to the comic as high watermarks in his career.

“I opened for Nick Swardson in my hometown of Kent,” Zumock said.  “It was sold out.  Definitely the largest audience I’ve ever been in front of.  I felt like a rock star there.

“When I got passed at the Hollywood Improv, I went on after Jim Gaffigan.  I was so young, and so green, but I got passed.  It was a Friday night, and Gaffigan popped in to do a set, and they put him on right before me.  I was just shitting my pants.  I’m auditioning to get into this club, and I’ve got to follow fucking ‘Hot Pockets’?

“When Daniel Tosh came to Hilarities, he brought me on as his opener.  It was sold out.  This was before Tosh.O.  To this day people still come up to me and say ‘dude I remember that show!’

“Those stick out.”

Lest your image of Zumock be painted all in bright colors, Kent’s funny son endures some dim, if not difinitively dark patches.

“The thing I’m going through right now is pretty challenging,” Zumock said of the charges pending against him in a 2012 incident.  “I know the real story, of course, of what happened.  But everyone has assumptions because of what I’m being charged with.

“If that stuff wasn’t pending, it would be sort of a blessing.  There is a lot more to the story than was reported.”

The smudge on his track record is already shrinking though, in light of what feels like the beginnings of a what might be a Zumock surge.  i don’t know how to describe it; it just seems like one of those logical conclusions.

Beneath his on- and off-stage persona as an immature, self-deprecating pop culturist, Zumock is a hard worker who has found his way through the business of show.  As a writer, performer, producer, and personality, the career that started in the fifth grade has taken him to remarkable places and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.  For the guy who doesn’t know how to do anything else, it’s a good thing he’s comfortable in front of an audience.  Even when the audience tries to become part of the show.

“I like when people heckle because I like breaking up the monotony of my nonsense,” Zumock said.  “I’ve told these jokes a zillion times, so I’m ready to do something different.  If someone heckles, it’s great.

“There was a guy with long hair, and he was missing his arm.  And he heckled me.  And as soon as I saw that I started smiling.  I asked, ‘sir, why are you heckling me?’ and he said ‘because you’re not funny.’

“I told him, ‘I might not be funny to you, but I’ll bet you $50 you can’t put your hair in a ponytail.’

“Everyone that goes to a show thinks they’re a comic, too.  They’ll say ‘I’m just helping.’  No, you’re not.  You’re not part of the show.  Just because you paid $10, you don’t get to be my partner.”

“I’ve never been scared on stage,” Zumock said.  “I’ve never gotten that scared feeling.  I like to go up there with nothing planned, and just go from there.

“If I have a new joke, or something I’ve been working on, I’ll have that planned.  I’ve got to put that somewhere.  And it stinks sometimes, when you don’t have anything planned, because sometimes I’ll forget about that new joke.  I had a new joke the other night that I forgot to tell, and I was like ‘god damn it.'”

Now, before this wraps up, i want to preface the next part by telling you i’m breaking a personal rule by doing this.  As i tell to each person i have the opportunity to speak with, i don’t straight-up transcribe the conversation because that seems a little boring.  But for the life of me, i can’t listen to or read the transcription of this part without laughing.  Maybe it’s just me, and the quality of the thoughts that went into this statement.  It could be the reminiscence of far-out thinking.  Just a certain i don’t even know what.

What i asked was this: “What do you hope audiences take away from your humor?”

“I’m really sophomoric,” Zumock said.  “I’m immature.  That’s kind of my…I hope, I don’t know, you know people…people…critics, or comedy critics…anybody, anybody who can just go ‘that guy’s not funny, that guy sucks’ – they don’t understand.  You can work on your act for years, and develop it, and hone it, and then this one construction worker can just come out and say ‘you suck.’  Or some guy will just say ‘that’s not funny.’  But they’ve never done it.  They’ve never gone through the process.  I think what I’m trying to, uh…I don’t care what people take away from it.  I hope they laugh, obviously.  But, you know, that’s fine too.  But uh, I wish people respected the process more.  I wish…my ideal thing is…everyone once in a while will have a bad set from time to time.  It’s just what it is.  I mean, you never know what’s going on with people in the audience.  They could have lost somebody.  They have a cold.  Maybe one guy is trying to figure out a bill and he’s not paying attention.  There’s so many factors that factor in to a bad set.  But I don’t think people necessarily um…I don’t know what I’m trying to say.  I’m all over the map.

“I hope people laugh, to answer your question.”

*     *     *     *     *

Well, i know comedy is subjective is what they always say.  i think Chad’s a pretty frickin’ funny mofo.  And like several other names on The List, the opportunity to speak with Chad came about in a similar fashion to his stage method – no planning.  No different than any other night from work, i fully expected to recuse myself from the outside world for the evening.  But just as i was selecting which comfy clothes i’d don, i read a tweet that Chad was doing a set at my watering hole.  i was reminded of the adage that it’s better to strike while the iron is hot, so there i was with a pint and a notebook ready to get the story.

Instead, i just enjoyed the show and additional imbibings.  If i’m honest, i didn’t want to be ‘that guy’ and go bother the dude after his set.  Even though i had every right to insert myself into the show – i’d paid $10 to get in after all.  But i didn’t.  Although i wasn’t sure if the awkward approach afterwards would put the kibosh on my journalistic plans.

Fortunately, it did not, as you’ve no doubt discovered unless you skipped the verbosity and are just reading the end little coda here.

Possibly the weirdest thing about the whole experience – the research, conversation, and further research – is that i can’t shake the feeling we’ve probably crossed paths before, down at Kent State University back in the day.  We’re pretty close in age, and coming across all these things like references to Mr. Tibbs, Laundry 101, late-night Mr. Show, and all that…i wouldn’t be surprised if we’d chilled on the same couches at least once of twice.  Perhaps even an obscure photo – we took a lot of pics and video at that house on East Summit.  Boy, if any of that fell into the wrong hands…

Thanks for viewing!

Oh, one last thing – so i don’t lose my comicbook cred:

The Comedian