365 Memphians: 29 – 33 (Memphis Comedy Fest Edition)
This year, I’m posting photos and interviews with unique Memphians I’ve met. Here are Memphians 29-35, all members of the Memphis Comedy Festival Board, of Directors, because Memphis Comedy Fest is happening right now.
29. Katrina Coleman
Katrina Coleman is the founder and head producer of Memphis Comedy Fest. You should definitely listen to that time she was on the I Love Memphis Podcast, and also to her comedy album, Womanchild. If you listen closely to the latter you can hear me (Holly) laughing.
What’s the best thing you’ve eaten this week? “Oh man, this week has been so full of junk food. Luckily for me, P&H has wifi, Ananda, and the best danged bar food in the city. Their grilled cheese sandwiches are made with real cheddar and provolone. They have amazing crisp seasoned fries to go with it. It’s served with a ramekin of pickle chips. I use the place for an office, and no job has better benefits than Matt bringing me that perfectly grilled mouth joy than P&H.”
What’s something you’re proud of? “If I had pride in me, it would be in two places: my kids and Memphis Comedy. Both are things that have grown beautifully, impress me to no end, and cry at me a lot (while also kicking ass).”
How do you think Memphis has changed in the last 5 years? “There’s been a beautiful boom in the creative talent in this city since 2011. Educated people are staying and moving here in greater numbers than ever before, and all of them with a real, palpable pride for this area code. The efforts of this group, combined with the working class bonding into a terribly formidable force has put Memphis on the national radar for best places to live, work, and pursue ambitions. Obviously, this was all due to the inception of Memphis Comedy Fest, as I don’t know the difference between causation and correlation, and I won’t let you tell me, because, shut up.”
How does Memphis make you feel? “Home. Memphis is home. I grew up in West Memphis, moved to Orlando, and came back to Memphis in my 20s. The way that felt was a lot like a first time home buyer must feel. Suddenly, I had a place I wanted to be a part of taking care of. It feels like being in a real cool neighborhood, where trouble exists, but we work together to make safe and clean and right. That feeling just gets stronger every day. Memphis is a place I want my family to be from, a place I’m proud to show off, a place I want to keep my yard mowed for and sit on the porch to wave at the neighbors, even the weird ones that try to fight the mailman. It’s a perfect place to put down roots and build, and that’s exactly what we’ve done. Home.”
30. Richard Douglas Jones
Richard Douglas Jones is a nerd culture enthusiast, open mic master, and host of the Black Nerd Power podcast.
What’s the best thing you’ve eaten this week? “Chicken Pita from Quick Stop on Central”
What’s something you’re proud of? “My Podcast, Black Nerd Power; available on iTunes, Stitcher, and at theoamnetwork.com/BNP.”
How do you think Memphis has changed in the last 5 years? “It’s finally taking steps that most major cities took years ago in the way of making Memphis more pedestrian/ bike friendly which will hopefully encourage Memphians to be more healthy.”
How does Memphis make you feel? “Memphis makes me feel comfortable, because it’s home, but at the same time it frustrates the hell out of me because I see what Memphis can become under proper leadership.”
31. Nathan Hiller
Nathan Hiller is a comedian and longtime Memphis Comedy Festival producer. From memphiscomedyfestival.com: “If it goes beep or boop, lights up, or goes on the internet, Nathan takes care of it for the festival. He has a degree in it. He tells people this a lot.”
What’s the best thing you’ve eaten this week? “In Austin , TX while I was at the world famous Voodoo Donuts, I still kept it 901 by having the Memphis Mafia. It’s like a cinnamon roll with banana, chocolate, and honey. This size of your head. It was awesome. And then after, I felt like I was gonna die, probably in the bathroom.”
What’s something you’re proud of? “I am continually proud that we have taken this tiny festival and made it bigger and better every year. We started with a crazy idea, that we could develop Memphis’ comedy scene into something that we would be proud of. Now after five years we have one of the most respected Comedy festivals in the US and our scene is producing multiple shows each week. We went from maybe having a show every once in awhile, to not being able to see everything everyone is doing because there is so much to see. That’s impressive.”
How do you think Memphis has changed in the last 5 years? “There’s hope. We came out of one of the most complacent periods in Memphis history and this city has embraced idea that change can be for the good. We aren’t letting things just happen to us in Memphis, we are looking at the change and shaping it to make our communities better. Look at Crosstown and Broad street. These were relatively blighted areas that now are thriving arts centers and retail havens. Memphis is great.” And Memphis is home.
How does Memphis make you feel? “I travel a lot for work. I’m in other cities all the time and get to see how these other “great” cities are run. None of them have the feeling of Memphis. There’s a palpable feeling of grit and music and people who are trying. Memphis isn’t just concrete and steel and wood. It can’t be described by a single idea, Memphis is complex. We are Barbecue and Blues and Grit-n-Grind and rock-n-Roll and hospitality. There’s no place like Memphis.”
32. Benny Elbows
Benny Elbows is an established comedy writer, performer, and producer, most recently with Blacksmith Comedy, which you should check out.
What’s the best thing you’ve eaten this week? “The SmokeHouse Pizza from Midtown Crossing Grill!”
What’s something you’re proud of? “Being able to work with some of the funniest people in the country on a daily basis.”
How do you think Memphis has changed in the last 5 years? “Memphis has always supported local art, but people have really stepped their support up in the past few years, especially with comedy.”
How does Memphis make you feel? “Optimistic. Its easy to be hopeful for the future of the city when you see so many people working hard to keep this city great.”
33. Joshua McLane
Josh McLane hosts the Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark podcast as well as the monthly Don’t Be Afraid Of The Comedy show.
What’s the best thing you’ve eaten this week? “My wife and I made breakfast for dinner together on our anniversary this past Monday.”
What’s something you’re proud of? “I’m very proud of My comedy record Don’t be Afraid of the Dark (shameless plug). But really I’m most proud of my wife and her work with Planned Parenthood.”
How has Memphis changed in the last five years? “In the last five years the comedy scene and the wrestling scene have blossomed almost at the same time. It’s truly a great time for entertainment in this town. Oh, and apparently the zoo owns Overton park now.”
How does Memphis make you feel? “I believe in Memphis. Memphis reminds me that reality is cold and harsh but beautiful. Memphis makes me feel like a good pair of shoes that has a pebble in each foot.”
Doug Gillon is also a member of the Memphis Comedy Festival Board, and he was featured in this post. Big props to him for helping me put this post together.
All photos provided by individuals or used with permission.