Four Letter Nerd

Category - Lifestyle

Star Wars and Mindfulness Meditation

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Anxiety seems to be an ever-growing issue that particularly looms large for people of my generation – the Millennials. The American Psychological Association estimates that 12% of millennials are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, while around 30% of working Millennials struggle with general anxiety. Now, I’m not good at math, but that seems like an awful lot of people. There are 75.4 million(ish) millennials wandering this planet, so upwards of 25 million of us have some form of general anxiety? Unfortunately, there isn’t any one magic cure – at least that I’ve found – but that’s not to say there aren’t ways to ease the burden a bit. One such way is called “mindfulness meditation.”

Before we get started, I think it’s important to note that I am a big believer that pop culture not only stems from our belief structures and societal myths but can also help us better understand them. Myths allow us to see things from a different vantage point, and, in some cases, it can become culturally-generative (in that it can help shape the idea that it stems from).  For example: when I was in an upper-level philosophy class during my college years, I was having a difficult time understanding a particular concept (Heidegger or Hegel if I remember correctly).  It wasn’t until I read an essay on the subject in the fantastic book Star Wars and Philosophy that I grasped it.

While meditation has been around for a long, long time, it’s seen a bit of a resurgence over the last several years (perhaps due to the statistics laid out above). That’s not to say that it disappeared for any length of time — I mean, it’s been around for thousands of years — but it’s become somewhat of a buzzword among industry professionals, celebrities, news anchors, and bloggers of all types. When I first stumbled upon mindfulness meditation, I didn’t understand it. The cynical part of me felt like Han when Obi-Wan Kenobi was explaining the Force to Luke – “So I am just supposed to sit here and focus on breathing? Listen, hokey religions…” Instead of writing it off, I decided to read several books on the subject, as well as any legitimate article I could find. It got easier over time, but it wasn’t until I saw snippets of what meditation, specifically “mindful meditation,” looks like through the lens of Star Wars that I began to realize it’s life-altering potential.

While reading about mindfulness meditation, I watched The Phantom Menace.  In it, Qui-Gon lays out the most basic premise of this form of meditation, which is being present.  At the beginning of the film, Qui-Gon and his padawan Obi-Wan are waiting for what I am sure would have been an exhilarating discussion with the Viceroy of the Trade Federation to resolve their blockade over Naboo. During this time, Obi-Wan is bothered about something in the future. When he mentions this to Qui-Gon, the Jedi Master responds saying, “Don’t center on your anxieties, Obi-Wan. Keep your concentration here and now, where it belongs.” When young Kenobi tells Qui-Gon that Yoda said “to be mindful of the future,” Qui-Gon responds saying, “But not at the expense of the moment. Be mindful of the living Force, young Padawan.” The majority of us spend our focus worrying about the future, thinking about the past, or just focusing on whatever device we are currently using. And if you are anything like me, your inner-voice never stops talking and can be a bit of an asshole. This form of meditation combats that by settling one into the present.  By focusing on your in-breath and out-breath, you are attempting to silence the constant inner-monologue which is taking you away from wherever you are, and doing whatever you are doing.

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The most poignant example of Qui-Gon’s commitment to peace through meditation is during his lightsaber battle with Darth Maul.  During the fight, Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and Maul are all separated from one another by ray shields.  Darth Maul paces back and forth, snarling and angry, while Obi-Wan bounces on the balls of his feet, anxiously waiting for the next round of combat.  In stark contrast, Qui-Gon just switches off his lightsaber and settles into a brief moment of peaceful meditation, simply being.

When we first meet Luke Skywalker, he is standing on a mound of sand, staring at the horizon, and just because he finds adventure doesn’t mean he ever stopped looking toward the horizon. In Empire Strikes Back,  Luke was nearly refused training because he was so focused on the future.  Yoda believed this attitude was a possible path to the Dark Side.  When he starts to show his frustration, Yoda chastises him saying, “All his life has he looked away, to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was, hmm? What he was doing.” It is Luke’s lack of presence that gives Yoda pause, and I think it’s a common cause for anxiety in modern culture as well. Our constant yearning for the “next big thing” and our inability to unplug because of our fear of missing out on something is a constant source of stress in our life.

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As we see in Return of the Jedi, Luke is at least partially responsible for the downfall of the Galactic Empire, but the Luke we see at the end of the film is a far cry from the brash, bush-pilot-turned-Rebel who showed up at Yoda’s doorstep looking for training. Despite Luke going through a pretty horrible ordeal at the end of Empire, in Return of the Jedi, Luke is more thoughtful, less prone to violence, and the brashness we saw in his youth is no more.  Apparently this lesson stuck with him too, because the new trailer for The Last Jedi begins with him teaching Rey to use her breath as an anchor for meditation.

One of the most important aspects of mindfulness is not focusing on whatever worries you may have in the future, but existing in the present moment. No judgment, no focusing on the past or future, just being with what is there. While it might sound odd, the majority of us spend our focus worrying about the future or ruminating over the past. If you are anything like me, your inner-voice never stops talking, and is a judgmental asshole, especially when it comes to yourself. By constantly drawing yourself back into the present moment — commonly by focusing on your breathing as an anchor — you can interrupt that constant stream of noise, call it on its bullshit, and find some peace

If you’d like to know more about mindfulness meditation, there are a lot of resources available online. I learned a lot from Dan Harris’ book 10% Happier, especially the last few chapters.  Mindful.org has all sorts of articles, including this video for beginners.  Finally, I found Insight Timer helpful, and I’ve heard great things about Headspace.

If you like this article, check out:

A Defense of Lando Calrissian

The Philosophy of Civil War: Tony Stark and Utilitarianism

The Philosophy of Civil War: Captain America and Deontology

 

 

 

 

Another New Year, Another New 4LN! Kind of…

sparkling trails of light drawing out the numbers 2017 in glowing light to welcome in the new year

Happy New Year! Yes, I know it’s February already, but honestly, I’ve been drinking since November so I’m lucky to even be wearing pants right now sitting up straight right now. Even though it’s closer to Valentine’s Day than New Years Day, I still wanted to take some time out and share with all you wonderful nerds what’s up with us here at 4LN. I did this little “State of 4LN Address” last year (“New Year, New 4LN“) and it’s just a way that I can keep those of you who might be interested up-to-date on where we are right now and what our foreseeable plans are.

Writing something about 4LN is complicated because we have two core readerships: People who know us in our personal lives and support us even if they aren’t invested in our content, and people who really don’t give a s–t who we are and only check out the site BECAUSE of the content. And we’re OK with that. We appreciate all of you equally and we’re grateful when even only a few of you read something we publish. Honestly, if you fall into the latter category, you could probably just stop reading here, or skip to the bottom. I 100% can’t blame you for not giving a s–t about who we are individually, and the rest of this could come across as self-indulgent to you. I only say that to try and give you a fair heads up on what you’re about to get into. The rest of you, the ones who do know us personally, you have to keep reading. It’s mandatory.

Our appreciation and gratitude in spite of only getting a handful of views on something is afforded to us because we make absolutely no money, no monetary gain whatsoever, off of this website. Since we really have nothing to lose, it’s a pleasure for us when any of you take the time to read a comic review or TV episode recap, or check out one of our unboxing videos. However… the fact that we do no profit from our posts means that 4LN cannot always be the top priority for us. It’s unfortunate, but hey, that’s life. We have jobs and families, and responsibilities that will always require more attention than this website, and as (mostly) responsible adults, we know that our everyday life commitments are more important than this. It’s the reason a review may go out a couple days later than planned, or a YouTube video might get published a week past the date we would’ve liked. Preserving our way of life, and taking care of our families comes first. Every time. We’ve never had any misconceptions that 4LN would be our ticket to “the Big Time,” whatever that means. Sure, we’ve had high hopes and dreams, but not once did we ever assume that this website would become the sole means of income for any of us, let alone ALL of us. We’re not THAT delusional. We’ve cultivated it as much as we can, when we can, and abandoned things that didn’t work or weren’t viable for us. We consider anything we at least tried a success because it means we weren’t cowards.

Another reason things can be “feast or famine” around here is because it’s very easy for us to get overwhelmed and burned out, which can lead to weeks where there’s only one or two articles posted, and then others where we have something every single day. Admittedly, lately, it’s been more famine than feast. It’s not something we lament though. It’s a side effect that comes from only having a few regular writers, and occasional guest contributors. Like with literally anything that you do, if you do it a lot, it can begin to feel unfulfilling and you need to step back, breathe, reevaluate, and then proceed accordingly. For all of us, at one time or another, focusing less on 4LN was the way to “proceed accordingly.” At first, when one of us would express these feelings, I think the rest of us saw it as mutiny, but once our time in the chair came, we better understood those feelings. It’s completely natural and we’re all accepting of that now. I say all this to provide an explanation, not an excuse. We’re not looking for pity. Honestly, we’re not even sorry. We’ve chosen to make 4LN fit into our lives, rather than forcing our lives to revolve around it and these are simply side effects.

So, what does all this mean for 4LN? Well, it means… it means that we’re done. We’re ending. The time has come for us to put this venture to rest. It’s definitely tough. I mean, how do I say goodbye to what we had? The good times that made us laugh outweigh the bad. I thought we’d get to see forever, but forever’s gone away. It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday…

Ha! JK! LOLZ! We’re not f–king going anywhere, BITCHES!

I’ve had people ask me about what happened to 4LN and why we aren’t doing as much. The honest answer is… we don’t take it as seriously now. Sure, we may never have expected that we’d ride this ship to “internet success and fortune” but we certainly attempted the “dress for the job you want” philosophy. We forced out content just because it was there to take up space and make us look busier. We’ve taken hard stances on things that, in hindsight, were trivial, and we’ve fought to the point of almost destroying friendships over things like… Batman (who isn’t a superhero, by the way). We just realized that none of this, no comic or movie or superhero, is worth being that rigid.

Last year we decided that we were going to be more open with our content and post about things that fell outside of the “nerd” label. That will continue. I anticipate there may be more music articles, as well as more lifestyle themed pieces. We’re also hoping to continue developing our video projects. We had a blast filming at Warped Tour last year, and we always enjoy shooting unboxing videos, so make sure to follow our Youtube page for whatever may pop up there.

We will also keep our “Positivity clause” in effect indefinitely. That’s the one thing that makes all of this worth it. Our only goal at this point, is to write about what we love, what we care about, what we want YOU to love and care about. It’s why we started, and it’s the sentiment we’re back to now. We have no desire to waste your time with negative and disparaging clickbait. 4LN exists, inherently, not because we’re all narcissistic pieces of garbage who craved 15 minutes of mediocre, ill-begotten fame (not *all* of us), but because we genuinely want to talk about what we love. It used to be just comics, games, and other typical “nerd” stuff. But we’ve evolved (or maybe devolved, depending on who you ask) and we can either quit or adapt. We’ve chosen to adapt. So yes, there will still be weeks we don’t post much, and then there will be weeks that we post an article every day. 2 years ago when we’d post an article a day, most weeks 3 out of those 5 articles were, frankly, bulls–t (maybe “superfluous” is a more sophisticated word?), and we were all probably just as indifferent to them as you were. That won’t happen anymore.

To summarize: 4LN is exactly what we want it to be right now. Casual. We’ve always identified as casual nerds, we enjoy nerd culture but we aren’t defined by it. 4LN will go forward reflecting that ideology. We’ll write, and shoot videos, when it’s convenient, and when it’s something we’re passionate about. To that affect, 4LN articles will, admittedly, not always be classified as “nerd”, but we guarantee they’ll always be written by nerds.

With Gratitude,
Stephen Andrew

Cubicle Survival Guide: Work-at-Home Edition

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With the rise of the interwebs, working from home – aka teleworking, aka pantsless-computing – is becoming an increasingly popular option for employers and employees alike.  Not only are employees generally happier because they don’t have to sit next to the microwave where Gary burns the popcorn EVERY DAMN TIME, but employees get to save on things like space and motivational posters:

I’ve been teleworking for about a year, and it’s fantastic. But, like most things in life, it has its ups and downs.  Productivity is important, and employment is even more important, so here are some tips and tricks to make your telework transition as smooth as possible.

First of all, you will need a work-space separate from the general living area.  Unless, of course, you live alone.  For me, I initially had to set up away from the everyday hubbub that comes with a two year old and a four year old waging war on one another and their toys.  Since I haven’t figured out how to make money off mediocrity yet, I had to set mine up in our bedroom where I could bar the door against the mini-horde of children plotting my doom.

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A reenactment of my kids outside my door.

Now that your desk is set up in a low traffic area, it’s time to get down to business.  The first few days at home might take a little getting used to, but eventually the lack of annoying chatter from your coworkers coupled with the morale boost that comes with not sitting in traffic for hours will coalesce into a beautiful tapestry of productivity.

Unless, of course, you decide to just watch Netflix the whole time (and by “watch” I mean “endlessly browse the queue of Netflix”).  One of the biggest downfalls of working from home is easy access to all of your in-home entertainment options. If you want to have the TV on in the background, that’s fine.  Just don’t make it a show that your are intensely interested in, because then you will spend a majority of your time staring at the wrong screen, which can also lead to a stiff neck if your TV is not directly beside your computer screen.  Now, if I have something on TV, it’s usually something that I don’t hate, but I’m also not particularly invested in like ESPN, or whatever the History Channel is peddling as educational nowadays.  Mainly though, I just jam Spotify most of the time.

This next one might sound like antithesis to my first point, but I just consider it farther up the skill tree so it requires a higher level to unlock.  More recently I have discovered how great it is to be mobile around the house.  We are issued a laptop, dock, and two monitors, but lately I’ve been unplugging from the dock and working on the kitchen table, standing at the kitchen counter, sitting on a rocking chair on the porch, and propping my feet up on the couch while getting the job done.  This is kind of a gray area when talking about productivity.  I had to see if I could still maintain my normal production levels, while exploring new places to work around the house.  After a week or two it’s become my new normal, and I love it.

#squadgoals

Now that we’ve looked at setup, sidebar entertainment, and level 2 skills, let’s finish by looking at some do’s and do nots for teleworking

• Do create a peaceful work environment. You’ll be spending a lot of time in this spot, so make sure you enjoy being there.

• Don’t make it so peaceful that you fall asleep.

• Do get up and move around from time to time. You’ll be walking even less now that you aren’t in the office. To avoid becoming one of the humans from WALL-E, try to get a moderate amount of movement in your day to day life.

My last point is probably the most important – don’t screw it up. Most telework contracts are conditional on you not being a terrible employee, so make sure your goals are met. If you manage that you can continue working in the nude like God intended.

 

4LN Comic Review – MARCH: Book One

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There aren’t a lot of comics that you *need* to read. There are a lot of comics that you *want* to read, and love to read, but most of those comics ultimately have no genuine impact on your life other than giving you something to talk about with your comic reading friends who (surprise, surprise) also already loved them. Most of the time you’ll forget those comics within days of having read them. Rarely does a comic, or graphic novel, come along that you *need*, I mean really, for the sake of your own social and cultural betterment, NEED to read. The ones you need to read are the ones that have a lasting impact beyond briefly being mentioned in those comic Facebook groups you’re in. MARCH is one of those “need” books. In fact, and this is quite a big claim, it might be the most “need” comic/graphic novel of all-time.

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The first entry in a trilogy of graphic novels, MARCH: Book One tells the life-story of Congressman John Lewis, with a focus on his childhood and his journey to becoming a leading fighter on the front lines of the civil rights movement. The story unfolds as Rep. Lewis is telling two kids from his district about how he got to where he is, and the setting is Jan. 20th, 2009, the day President Obama was inaugurated.

The opening of the book is a depiction of the Selma-to-Montgomery march, where Lewis walked side-by-side with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as well as about 600 other marchers, in a peaceful protest, but they were blocked by state troopers and consequently attacked and beaten. It’s important that the narrative begin here because this was an pinnacle moment in Rep. Lewis’ life, and in the civil rights movement overall. The incident in Selma was broadcast all over television and shed a national light on the type of inhumane cruelty the black community had been suffering.

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Rep. Lewis lead a fascinating life. MARCH shows us what he was like as a young man, in his own words, and how even as a young boy he had a deep, intuitive understanding of the how precious life is, and how mistreating it can’t be justified.

Also, as someone who resides in a suburb of Nashville, it was bittersweet for me to see how our city is so closely tied to the fight for civil rights. Much of this volume of the story focuses on the peaceful sit-ins that Lewis helped organize at diners right here in the Tennessee capitol. I honestly had no idea that ever happened just outside my own backyard, and I, admittedly, felt a little shame that it wasn’t taught to me when I was in school, and that I hadn’t taken the time on my own to learn about it.

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Luckily for us, we have movies like Selma and The Butler to help us understand what life was like for the people paving the way for civil rights, and what life was like during that era, but there’s only so much a 2 hour movie can show you, and then on top of that they’re being told by artists. MARCH is an opportunity for you to see and hear what was going on through the eyes and words of a man who was actually there, fighting at the forefront of the movement. Sometimes it’s hard to witness, to see what they were enduring, but it is a historical part of this great country of ours, and one we need to be reminded of.

Recently, the trilogy set of MARCH has begun to sell out, so tracking down a physical copy of that might be tough, but it looks you can get a copy of Book One, as well as Book Two & Book Three (the first comic to win a National Book Award), through Amazon, and I’m sure places like Barnes & Noble or Books-a-Million might have them as well. You can also check with your local comic shop to see if they have any in stock. If you can’t get a physical copy, all three are available in Amazon’s Kindle format, and through Comixology.

I want to strongly recommend that you get this and read it, and I even urge you to consider getting it for any kid in your life (son, daughter, niece, nephew, cousin, etc.) from middle-school-age on. I believe it could teach them a lot about a time period in the U.S. that they may struggle to comprehend otherwise.

In addition to the crucial historical information, Rep. Lewis’ life is immensely inspiring, from his wise maturity at a young age through his firm resolve to fight for desegregation. At 76 years old he continues to be a man of strong determination and action. His story will open your eyes and give you hope. Get a hold of MARCH, by any means necessary, and let it move you, but more than that… let it motivate you.

LEGOs, Buddhism, and Fatherhood

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A large part of my son Charlie’s LEGO collection is made up of my Millennium Falcon set I used to keep up on my shelf of collectibles. One day, one of our cats (Luke or Leia) somehow managed to get up there and knock it six feet down to its demise. Not wanting to put it back together that early in the morning, I boxed it up and stashed it in my closet where, after a couple months, the cats managed to knock it off my closet shelf, shattering it again. This time my kids found it and wanted to play with it so bad. At this point, I could either withhold a toy I kept stashed next to my neckties in the dark recesses of my closet from my two favorite people, or I could decide to not be Lord Business from the LEGO Movie and let them use their imagination to build whatever they want (as long as the color scheme is mostly gray).

Nearly 14,000 pieces suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced

Nearly 14,000 pieces cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.

Fast forward a few weeks, my wife was talking to her dad about what to get Charlie for Christmas. She brought up how he’s recently become fascinated with LEGOs, particularly Star Wars LEGOs due to the incident described above, and how it’s really a present for both me and my son since I have to do the majority (all) of the labor. What she didn’t tell her dad was that Charlie’s favorite part of LEGO building was the post-build destruction. I mean, immediately after I finished building a Darth Vader LEGO set he looked at it, smiled, then unleashed the hounds of war. It makes sense, kids are inherently destructive, right? They aren’t malicious about it, but if you stack four boxes up and step back they are definitely going to pretend it’s a high rise and they are Godzilla.  Seriously, for my two year old’s birthday, we bought 20 moving boxes, painted them like bricks, and stacked them into a wall for all the kids to bust through like superheroes.  Those boxes stayed in our playroom for almost two whole months because it became the kids favorite thing to do.

This got me thinking about how I felt spending an hour and half on a LEGO build that was doomed from the start.

Was the time and effort worth it knowing that as soon as we finished, it would be set upon by a kid who LOVES the Hulk and wants to emulate his behavior?

It also brought a vague recollection of the Buddhist practice of creating sand paintings that I later learned are called mandalas (not the adult coloring books… not that there is anything wrong with that).

Sand mandalas are elaborate art pieces that are painstakingly created over several weeks by Buddhist monks. First they must lay out the geometric pattern for the mandala, and create the different color sands. Then the team of monks spend several weeks carefully creating each section of the mandala, and once completed they ceremoniously destroy it. The sand is swept up, some is given to the observers and the remainder is placed in a jar, wrapped in silk, then released in the nearest river. The point of this exercise is to show the temporary nature of life. It also encourages them to focus on the present moment instead of ruminating on the future.

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Now, I know that putting little plastic blocks together with my son pales in comparison to the ritual creation and destruction of the Buddhist mandalas. There is, I think, a lesson to be learned here anyway.  All of the time I spend with Charlie at the kitchen table searching through an ever-shifting pile of LEGOs is time well spent, regardless of the ultimate outcome of the LEGO creation.  Or, you know, I could just be overthinking things like I normally do…

1Up Unboxing – June – Survival Theme

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Well, we’re launching this unboxing video a lot later than we wanted due to some unforeseen technical issues, but hey… better late than never! This was a particularly excellent 1Up box, with and exciting Survival theme, so check out our video below, and make sure to head over to 1UpBox.com to sign yourself up and get one of your own!

 

And also make sure to check out our first 1Up unboxing video and “Is It Worth It?” article here:

1Up Box: Is It Worth It? (+ Unboxing Video!)

1Up Box: Is It Worth It? (+ Unboxing Video!)

There are a lot of monthly subscription boxes out there full of great swag for geeks and gamers, but how many of them are actually worth the price? We recently received a 1Up Box and dug through it to find out if it’s worth the roughly $13 (plus $7 shipping & handling). This is their May box and the theme was RPG. Check out what all we got in the box below, with actual pictures that we took of the items (not stock photos), and our estimated value based on what we could find comparable to each item.

 

World of Warcraft, Sylvanas Pop Vinyl Figure – $11

WoW Pop

This is the only item in the box that isn’t an exclusive. This figure runs on Amazon for about $11.

 

1Up Buddies “Furry Assassins” T-Shirt – $15

Furry Assassins

This item is harder to determine an outside value than the POP figure is, because it’s something that’s 100% exclusive to 1Up. I found someone selling this shirt on Ebay for about $15, with free shipping, so that’s what we’re gonna go with.

Just with these two items you’re already over in value compared to what you pay for the box with S&H included, and there’s still more…

 

Viking Pin – $5

– Viking Pin

This viking pin will remind you a little of the Dragonborn from Skyrim, and I wasn’t able to find any other pins that were similar to this, but I did find someone selling this pin on Ebay for $5.

 

Vault Bookmark – $2

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You’ll recognize this as an homage to the Fallout game series. It’s stylized like the pause/save screen featuring the Vault Boy. This was another one that I could not find a similar item for, but I did find this Vault Boy bookmark on Etsy for close just under $2, so since this is an exclusive I’m gonna round the value up to $2 even.

 

Assassin’s Creed Emoji Stickers – $5

AC Stickers

These are great, right? They just crack me up. I found these on Ebay for $5 and that seems fair considering they’re also a 1Up exclusive item.

 

So there you have it folks. All added up, per our research, you get almost $40 worth of great stuff for only spending about $20, making it entirely worth the price. The 1Up Box theme for June is Survival so go to 1Upbox.com to get one sent right to your door, and check out our unboxing video below!

Local Spotlight: Third Coast Comedy Club

When most people think about Nashville, comedy is not likely to be high in the list of things they’d associate with the Tennessee capital. “Music City”, the official(?) moniker, brings to mind country music and Gibson guitars more than stand-up and improv comedy. Well, there are two guys who don’t think it has be that way and they’re doing something about it. Luke Watson and Scott Field are the founders of Third Coast Comedy. Together, they have almost 3 decades of experience in improv and sketch comedy and they’re using their knowledge and accumen to create a space, the Third Coast Comedy Club, where other creative comedic minds can hone their skills, and where if you just really love to watch sketch and improv comedy you can do that too! Check out my interview with them below!

4LN – How did you each initially get into comedy and improv?

Luke Watson: I think I’ve always been “into” comedy. Its always been my favorite genre of movie/tv shows and whenever someone asked me for a role-model it wasn’t uncommon for a comedian to be the first to come to mind. When it comes to improv, I was doing it with friends in college before I even knew it was a performance art form. I knew the show “Whose Line is it Anyway?” existed but I had no idea that there was an improv culture that existed and regularly performed at venues all across the country. When I moved back to Atlanta after college a friend of mine who was performing at Dad’s Garage Theater introduced me to an independent improv team and before I knew it I was on stage performing with them.

Scott Field: I credit my family of origin! I HAD to be lighthearted growing up in the dark, depressing alcoholic fueled Central Pennsylvania town that I did. I never did theater in high school or college. Instead, my first comedy troop was made up of all the guys on the cross country teams I ran with. In my mid 20s I took some classes at improv Boston, auditioned, and then performed with their main stage cast for several years.

 

4LN – What, or who, would you say were your biggest comedy influences growing up?

Luke: I’ve always been all across the board with my favorite comedians: Carol Burnett, Robin Williams, Zach Galifianakis, Ellen Degeneres, Demitri Martin, Jim Carrey. Then of course the SNL folks: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Chris Farley, Rachel Dratch, and Will Ferrell. Each of those people are on there for a different reason. Whether is was Jim Carrey’s lack of fear or judgement as he played a character at a 12 on a 10 scale, Ellen Degeneres’ and Zach Galifinakis’ ability to deliver a joke. Demitri Martin’s style. Robin Williams physicality and energy. Carol Burnett’s originality and eternal relevancy. Most of those comedians still make my current top 10 list.

Scott: The guys on the teams I was a part of, for sure. I love listening to Bill Cosby, Robin Williams, Steve Martin, watching Saturday night live, Monty Python, SCTV…

 

4LN – You both started out elsewhere and then came to Nashville later. Was there anything in particular that drew you here to further pursue your comedy careers?

Luke: I didn’t move here for the comedy–and didn’t move here for music, either. I moved her to be closer to my sister and brother. But then the improv ‘itch’ started and I couldn’t help but get back into it. I started with a local troupe and shortly thereafter decided to start LOL Nashville and focus on long-form improvisation (going back to my Atlanta days).

Scott: My career has been in teaching, not comedy. What drew me to Nashville was the lifestyle and affordability. The city has been very open too and it’s supportive of my own comedic interests.

 

4LN – What do you say to people who are unconvinced, or surprised, that Nashville has such a thriving and evolved comedy scene?

Luke: I’d say they’re not getting out of the house enough. The fact is, its getting to the point where its hard to not notice it. There is literally some form of comedy performed on any given night of any given month in this city–often times several opportunities on the same night. Live comedy has taken a presence in every corner of this city from bars and music venues, to coffee houses and restaurants. Once the Third Coast Comedy Club launches it will be hard to find someone who is unconvinced that the comedy scene here is thriving.

Scott: I would say that I am not surprised. Unless you know someone directing or doing shows, or really look for a comedy, it is in fact hard-to-find. Overtime that has been less and less the case. With our venue, it will be impossible NOT to find comedy with a local flavor in the local cast.

 

4LN – You’ve launched a Kickstater project to help get your comedy club off the ground, but it really is so much more than just a typical comedy club. Can you tell us about Third Coast Comedy Club and your vision for it?

Luke: Our vision in one word can be summed up with: community. Whether it be the sense of community involved in the conception, production, and casting of shows to the stage design and bar atmosphere, this club will be the place that local comics will not only want to produce their shows or grab some stage time, it will also be a place where they’ll go to grab a drink with other comedians or go to write the last pages of the script for a sketch their working on. What makes me so excited about the club is the vision for the shows. Third Coast Comedy will be different than many other comedy clubs in that it won’t be dedicated to just one form of comedy. We will regularly have sketch, improv, stand-up, comedic plays, variety shows, experimental shows, etc. It will be nice for someone to have what may seem like a crazy concept and have a chance to try it out in an actual theater.

Scott: This will be, simply put, a venue designed for improv and sketch comedy produced by people who live in Nashville. We want audiences to be able to easily find us, enjoy their time at the club, and return again and again because of the positive vibe, comfortable, welcoming feel, and funny shows. It has to be a fun place to be for people buying tickets and for people performing. We really want to encourage people to take nutty ideas and bring them out into the world. We are going to be the birthing center for local comedy, and that means there’ll be a placenta, but we’re comedy doctors, so we’ll clean that up. Natural comedy birth, so no epidurals. Sorry.

4LN – These next questions are for our “lightning round.” Just answer with the first thing that comes to mind. All-time favorite comedy album…

Luke: That’s very tough. But I’m gonna have to go with Zach Galifianakis, Live At The Purple Onion, even though to my knowledge its only on DVD and was never made into a CD album.

Scott: Paul F. Tomkins Freak Wharf

 

4LN – Where’s the best place to eat in Nashville, and what’s the best thing to get there?

Luke: Hattie B’s. Great hot chicken–just be careful. They’re not messing around with their hot sauces. Seriously. I won’t even go beyond the Hot. Honestly, I normally get the medium. OH! And don’t forget to save room for their Banana Pudding is ah-mazing.

Scott: I love Batter’d N Fried. A lot. I’m a veggie, so I get the veggie sushi and beer. I also consume Boston Red Sox games as the place is modeled on a Boston pub.

 

4LN – What was the last concert you went to?

Luke: When I go out to listen to music its typically to hear a local band play. I think my last concert was almost a year ago (can’t believe its been that long!) at Bonnaroo (which by the way, Mumford and Sons killed it).

Scott: Neil Young a few weeks ago at Ascend. First time there. Awesome!

 

4LN – This will be tough, because there a lot of them, but name for me one other local comedian that you think everyone should know about…

Luke: Well, you’ve done it again…making me narrow a lot of great options into one answer. And you’re right, there’s a lot of them. But I’d say Dusty Slay. He’s got an original brand and his material is solid and polished. Check out his “Makin’ That Fudge” album. You know its good when you’re still laughing when listening the third time around.

Scott: I like Brad Pendergast (Brad Edwards). He’s so impatient and miffed and dirty. It’s a nice combination. Plus, he tries to spill hot coffee on me sometimes which is so funny.

 

4LN – Finally, since we are a “nerd” blog, what comic book character, or characters, do you think would be great at improv? (Personally, I feel like Deadpool and Plastic Man could nail it.)

Luke: When it comes to humor, Deadpool would be a great option. But I think Iron Man would be a great improviser, as well. His ability to make something from very little and without any preparation. Also, I love his sarcasm.

Scott: Groot, from Guardians of the Galaxy.

 

I want to send a huge THANK YOU to Luke and Scott for chatting with me! Make sure that you check out their Kickstarter campaign and please seriously consider contributing, especially if you live in or around Nashville. If you’re interested in supporting Third Coast and you also happen to be looking for something to do this weekend, check out this awesome fundraiser show at 12th & Porter on Sunday night!