fear

The DCH Diaries: FRET Ye, My Brothers and Sisters

Eleanor Roosevelt In this space last week, I talked about vulnerability on stage, particularly when it comes to sharing painful feelings. This week, the focus shifts to fear.

You remember the Roosevelt family, the political dynasty that produced two popular presidents and a bad-ass first lady? Every one of those folks had something to say about fear. I know you’ve heard these:

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."—FDR

"The danger lies in refusing to face the fear, in not daring to come to grips with it. If you fail anywhere along the line it will take away your confidence. You must make yourself succeed every time. You must do the thing you think you cannot do."—Eleanor

"The credit belongs to the man . . . who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; . . . who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."—Teddy

Do you think they cribbed off of each other?

I love acronyms. They are often clever encapsulations of much more complicated and often abstract constructs. I have a new one for you, and I am proud to say that I made it up all by myself (quite by accident, but don’t tell anyone). It will be my enduring contribution to the literary oeuvre of improvisational comedy. Prepare to be impressed:

F R E T: Fear, Risk, Exposure, Triumph

I think it is a great irony in human relations that the willingness to fail may be the characteristic we most admire in others, but fear of looking stupid cripples our willingness to take those risks.

Next time the scaredy cat claws its way to the surface, think FRET:

Acknowledge the FEAR Choose to take the RISK EXPOSE your vulnerability TRIUMPH in your high achievement

Improvisers are a singular bunch. Think about what we do. We go on stage naked, without a script or much of a game plan at all. Maybe an initiation or a gesture. We run an immediate risk of looking stupid. But, hell, looking stupid is funny. Why? Because people in the audience either 1) do improv and can totally empathize with the performer’s plight, 2) don’t do anything like improv and admire the bejeezus out of people willing to face the risk of stepping out from the back line and seeing where the journey takes us.

When your friends and relatives see you on stage for the first time, don’t you get a post-mortem like this? “Gee, that was great. You were so funny! But I could never get up on a stage like that.” By the end of Level 1, I was saying, “Of course you can. Everybody can.” For a time, I thought, “Why do they feel that way about themselves?” I figured they were afraid of freezing up or looking silly. Classic stagefright precipitators. Maybe it’s more fundamental than that even. Maybe they are afraid of taking the risk, of appearing vulnerable, of ceding control to a process or another person.

Next week, we will explore practical ways to apply that cool FRET acronym to help us all deal with the insidious fear of emotional exposure. This week, I will leave you with another favorite quote of mine. Because it deals directly with vulnerability in comedy, let it inspire you.

Robert Kelly"Yeah, we are cool motherf******. We are rockstars—when it comes to what we do. But we are f**k-ups, but we know it. We know all of our flaws. We know all of our dimples and zits. We use it, and use that to make you understand us more. It makes people like you more. When you are on stage talking about how f***ed up you are and people relate to it, I don’t know if there is anything more powerful. That’s how people get sober off drugs, just being completely honest. That’s what kind of power lies in stand-up comedy.

"Being as vulnerable as you can on stage. And then adding making people laugh at it. That’s why I get mad when people get offended at comedy. It’s like wait a minute, the person that gets offended, okay f**k you, but what about the other person that it helped?"—Comedian Robert Kelly, Paste Magazine, 1/9/2015

Mr. Kelly plays the brother of Louis C.K. on Louie.

Carron Armstrong is a Level 4 student in the Dallas Comedy House Training Center, where her husband, Gary, is in Level 2 and her daughter, Haley, is in Level 1. She is pleased that they form DCH’s first improv family dynasty (as far as she knows). Their legacy will be a new house format called the Armstrong.

What We're Loving Year-End Spectacular (Part Two)

We've loved many things this year - books, movies, tv shows, websites, people - but these things we loved the A-Number One Best. U-Talkin-U2-to-Me-HiIn 2014, my favorite thing in comedy was the Dallas Comedy House. No doubt about it. But since this blog belongs to them, it would make me feel like a total sell out if I just wrote about how much I love that place. AND I’M NOT A SELL OUT. I streamed a Dead Kennedy’s album this week!

What I’ve loved this year more than anything else has been the Earwolf podcast U Talkin’ U2 To Me? Somehow, I didn’t write about this show once in any of my fifty (I’m the Takashi Miike of What We’re Loving) entries into this blog in 2014. That changes today.

U Talkin’ U2 To Me? is a podcast with a simple premise; Scott (Aukerman of Comedy Bang Bang) and Scott (Adam Scott of Parks & Rec and Party Down) sit down to discuss the work of the band U2. Originally, they were going to record the show for a month or two in advance of the release of the 2014 U2 album, but when it was delayed for months they decided to keep recording. And they created some of my favorite audio I’ve ever heard.

The lesson that I’ve drawn from U Talkin’ U2 To Me? is something that I’m going to try and apply to my work even more in 2015. Their show is technically really bad. They don’t stay on point, they record in the middle of the night so they’re delusional, and with the work schedule that both of them have, they are usually exhausted. The thing that makes their show special is that you can tell they legitimately love what they’re doing. There are so many important elements to performance but they’re all pretty meaningless if you don’t have fun and enjoy it. This podcast reminded me of that and thus, was something that I truly loved this year. - David Allison

images2014 is almost over you guys! How excited are you to just end this mess and start fresh in 2015? Personally, this year has been crazy trying for me. Between family issues and life smacking the crap out of me; emotionally I am drained and January 1 cannot come fast enough. Despite it all though I’ve had some pretty fun experiences and learned some junk about myself.

So this post of “What We’re Loving in 2014” is completely about me. Yup! All me, me, me.

Growing up I was never much of talker. If I ever had to get serious about something I would just write it out in order to avoid the awkward conversation. Talking sucked. Back then writing came easy and that was my outlet. That was because I wasn't aware of the rules of writing. Honestly, I am still unaware of the rules of writing. I often joke around and ask real writers what an adverb or adjective is and I always get a good chuckle from it. But seriously, what are they? I have no clue. It is in my complete ignorance that I find myself most proud.

I didn’t start writing articles and blog pieces until this year because I was embarrassed by my lack of skill and knowledge. I just didn't want anyone to see me as not all that smart or funny. Mainly the latter. Don’t get me wrong, as a actor and a comic I’ve written plenty of things but they were and are more of a ramble than a structured piece. It wasn't until my friend DeAndre decided to start his own blog driven website that I considered writing. He asked all of my friend if we wanted to write and being the supportive person I am I said sure. Did I mention my lack of basic knowledge in the rules of writing? Well, after months of stalling and all my friends writing awesome pieces about various topics I bite the bullet and wrote a fun piece about Girl Meets World - that is sequel to Boy Meets World that follows Cory and Topanga’s daughter Riley. (By the way, the show is terrible. Save yourself and your childhood memories by not watching it) Needless to say I was extremely scared to submit that piece for fear of what the person editing my little article would say. In fact, below is the warning I placed at the beginnning of the article to absorb any potential judgement:

Hey so before you make this bleed with your red pen there are a couple things you should know. I am not a writer and I have no clue what I’m doing. I’m just a girl who is sometimes funny, hears voices in her head, and thinks it’d be interesting to write out the conversation they have. Please don’t jugde me too hard.

Yup. All that lovely insecurity came directly from me. Truth is I’m extremely insecure about everything. Why else would I want to be an actor? Submitting any sort of work for other to read or view is terrifying to me so the fact that I do this for a living is pretty scary. I don’t like talking to people after shows and I feel like I’m being a jerk imposing my thoughts and ideas on random strangers. In my heart of hearts and deep down in my cold cold heart I know that is not true but who listens to the voice of reason? Ultimately, I just want people to like me and the crazy things I have to say.

What I discovered that I love this year is my courage. Like I said, I’m terrified of everything and that one silly little article showed me that its okay actual try something and put yourself there. You see I don’t know what I’m doing and I okay with that. I think that is what makes this whole writing thing that much more fun. Since my Girl Meets World review, I’ve writing a bunch of stuff including some fun bloggy pieces for the world famous Dallas Comedy House. You may have heard of it. It’s important for me to mention a couple of things about my new found courage though

1) I will still never ride a rollercoaster. 2) Yes I’m still super insecure but at least now I can deal with it. 3) Make like Nike and Just Do it. You never know what you’re awesome at. 4) I still have no clue what an adjective is and I don’t care anymore either.

- Rachel Hall

20141125_RawGOTN_articleMy favorite thing about 2014 was Concessions Kane. I thought it was a funny idea and it made me laugh. - Mike Corbett

 

 

 

 

personalgrowthFor me, 2014 was a year of tremendous growth – of facing discomfort and stepping outside my comfort zone to grow as a person. There were plenty of tears, heartbreak, and misery in 2014 for me, as tends to the be case in life. However, there was even more laughter, joy and friendship throughout the year.

A lot of times we feel like growth has to come dramatically, from some stirring New Year's resolution to hit the gym for two  hours a day. We slink into feelings of failure when such grandiose dreams fail to come true. I’ve learned that it takes no such lofty ambitions to achieve great rewards. Seven years ago as a High School senior, I had to eat lunch in the bathroom because I was too terrified of people to actually sit in the Cafeteria. Even though I’ve come a long way, getting to know so many people at DCH was still a daunting task.

My growth came in small moments – sometimes doing something uncomfortable in improv and getting to know classmates and troupemates. More often, it came from deciding that I needed to hang around the bar at DCH and make myself talk to people, despite the utter discomfort and initial hours spent lurking in the corner trying to pretend I was texting someone on my phone. I would rather have gone home and played Assassin’s Creed from the comfort of my couch, but that wouldn’t help me grow as a person. So I stayed, endured the awkwardness, and somehow managed to not only feel comfortable around lots of people, but to make amazing friends and enjoy myself. I’m so thankful for the opportunities that were given to me, and I intend to make the most of them! I forced myself out there, and eventually....slowly....it paid off! – Ryan Vicksell

american-music-pop-music-collage-2014In the year 2014, I became a year older. My legs, my arms, my lungs, my brains, etc. all became a year older. That is no surprise, of course, but the one thing that is really shocking is that my musical taste in 2014 became much younger. So, what happened? Well, if you are like me, then the music that you were loving in 2014 was fresh and alive and brimming with……youth!

This is the year that Lenny Kravitz released a CD that never charted in the US, Green Day put out a collection of “greatest hits” that no one wanted, and U2 gave every iTunes customer a free album, which we promptly complained about and deleted from our libraries. Instead we bowed at the throne of Lorde, tickled our “Fancy” with Iggy Azalea, and were “All About That Bass” with Meghan Trainor. I literally own sweatshirts older that all of them, yet they have somehow managed to craft music that is sticking with me far better than many of the heroes of my past these days. Heck, the band whose sound that I am crushing hard on right now are the “Cool Kids” of Echosmith…….and two of them are still in HIGH SCHOOL!

It took a little getting used to, especially when I attended The Neighborhood’s show this summer and realized that I could possibly be the oldest person in attendance not chaperoning a child. Slowly but surely this year’s catchy hooks infiltrate your brain, however, and eventually grab a hold of your heart. American Authors are there to make sure I have the “Best Day of My Life. “I Wanna Get Better” thanks to Bleachers and Fall Out Boy inspires me to rise like “The Phoenix” and aspire to be known for “Centuries”. Suddenly those old limbs seem revived and able to run longer when attached to an iPod full of 2014’s glorious earworms.

I don’t know what 2015 has in store, but if it sounds anything like 2014, then I am all ears. - Glen Smith

1505644_10152390427495350_581480141263445905_nReview on Comedy Central was the best TV show I saw all year, Guardians of the Galaxy was the best movie, and Raymond Chandler's Farewell, My Lovely was my favorite read of the year, but the one thing I love over and above everything else was the Dallas Comedy House. I'm not afraid to be a sell out.

I started taking classes here at DCH in October of last year. A year ago around this time I had my Level One Showcase with a little group known as Canadian Tuxedo. Never in my life has I felt such joy. I came to DCH expecting to find a whole bunch of comedy nerds who were bitter and judgmental and mocked me for being so sweaty. Instead I found a whole bunch of cool people who were creative and fun and welcoming. Over the past year I moved through the levels of improv and sketch, joined a few improv troupes, collaborated on some sketch shows, and made some of the best friends I've ever had. For the first time in a long time I found a place were I felt like I belonged. For the first time in a long time I found a place where I could be myself.

The past few months took me away from Dallas and way from the Comedy House. I miss it every day. Right now I'm working at what is essentially my dream job. There's no way I would be here if not for DCH. There's no way I get this job without saying "Yes, and" to life. There's no way I can even do this job without the ability to dive into writing a scene or a sketch and write improvisationally. My 2014 was spent largely at DCH. I was creatively transformed; rebuilt and made better, as a writer, as a performer, and as a person.

Thanks to everyone at DCH who made this past year so wonderful. I'd thank people by name, and highlight their awesomeness, but I'd inevitably leave someone out and Mike Maiella would get mad at me. (In this scenario, Mike is the one I leave out. And we all know how he gets when he's riled up.) But I really couldn't end this without saying to the assembled members of Canadian Tuxedo, Johnny Soso, H.A.M.F.I.S.T., Chili's to Go, our Level Five Class Whose Troupe Name I Forgot, Finale, Primary Colours, Duck Duck Pants, Awkward Silence, Neapolitan, Sketch One, Sketch Two, Charles Dicken's Great! Expectations, and the assembled cast and crew of The Investment, The Theft, and Boost!, I love you all and miss you all so much. - Ryan Callahan

What We're Loving: Unpopular Opinions, Hidden Upsides, Deleted Context, Specialized Pitching

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison makes a bold statement, Jonda Robinson fails greatly, Amanda Hahn needs a mind break, and Ryan Callahan goes to the bullpen. imgresSometimes I really hate popular opinion. There’s a collective hive mind that we all participate in and often times cinema is significantly affected by it’s whims. You’ll hear about this amazing movie that “everyone” loves, set plans to see it opening night, and then realize within five minutes that Benjamin Button is terrible. But you can’t say anything about how much you hated it because it gets nominated for Oscars and stuff. The opposite happens too and it’s even more disappointing. There are so many movies that our pop culture group mind simply rejects and we’re not supposed to give them a chance. Then, like an idiot, I see one of these flicks, love it, and can’t talk about my adoration for it in fear of receiving palpable judgement in return. The current film I feel self conscious about really enjoying is something that was released on DVD this past week: Muppets Most Wanted. AND IT’S WHAT I’M LOVING THIS WEEK. There, I said it.

Where are you going?

Don’t run away yet!

Hear me out on this. Yes this commercial failure that you didn’t hear anything good about is not a great film. With that said, there are numerous factors that make it highly enjoyable to watch. First, you’ve got solid performances from Tina Fey, Ricky Gervais and Ty Burrell. See, that’s not so bad! You liked them in that other thing you liked, so that’s gotta count for something. Also, it’s basically a musical and contains about ten full length songs, most of which were written by Bret McKenzie (Flight of the Conchords). Flight of the Conchords was your favorite show! Plus, McKenzie won an Oscar for the tunes he wrote for the previous Muppets film, so that helps. Oh and it’s the Muppets! You remember how much you loved them as a kid? You would’ve killed another child, straight up murdered a newborn, to go to Muppet Treasure Island with the gang.

So give this movie a shot. Even if it means sneaking it home in a pizza box and watching it under the cover of darkness so that your friends don’t judge you. - David Allison 9780345472328_p0_v2_s260x420

Lately I’ve been trying to look at the positive side of failing. For example, last week I was visiting a friend and we decided to go eat at a certain restaurant. We got a cab and made the trek across town during rush hour, only to find out that they were closed. Sigh. Trying to look on the bright side, I told her that it wasn’t a total waste because it was a mistake we’d learn from. She appropriately rolled her eyes at me.

In an effort to prepare for another year of teaching middle school, I’ve been learning more about the concept of learning through failure from the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Dr. Carol Dweck. Dweck’s theory is that there are two kinds of mindsets that you can have: the fixed mindset, in which you believe that your intelligence and talents are fixed and do not change, and the growth mindset, in which you believe that your abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. For the fixed mindset, failure is a terrifying thing that says, “You’re not enough.” But for the growth mindset, failure is a perfect opportunity to learn and become better than you were before. According to Dweck, you get to choose which mindset you approach life with. If you’d like to see which mindset you currently lean toward, there’s a quiz for that! And if you’d like to attempt to change your mindset, there are steps for that!

Some of the most fun things I have done in the past year, from taking a sketch writing class to wakesurfing, were scary things that I at first said no to because I was afraid of failing. If there’s something you’ve been wanting to try, I highly suggest that you go for it, even if you’re afraid you’ll fail at it. It’ll help you become a cooler, better version of yourself. And if you need something to help you get motivated, check out Dweck’s book to give you that little push that you need. - Jonda Robinson

jJpkIo-4

The end of each semester is typically unusually busy. This summer’s semester has been no exception. Sometimes you just need a mind break from everything. I found the perfect one: Ads Without Context . The name is misleading because it’s more like “ads re-contextualized” than ads with no context. And thank goodness it is. This entire feed is just .gifs from infomercials with captions giving new context to the melodramatic ads. The mix of the silent overacting overlaid with the captions is endlessly silly and delightful.

Some are simple.

Some are gross.

Some make me laugh out loud.

Some are weirdly sad.

And many more are endlessly re-watchable.

So turn off the TV and tune into No Context Ads. The infomercials are way better on there. - Amanda Hahn

51fbRsn29aL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_You ever find a book and feel like it was written just for you? That's how I feel about The Setup Man: A Novel, the debut thriller by T.T. Monday. The book introduces Johnny Adcock, a 35-year-old lefty relief specialist for the fictional San Jose Bay Dogs. Johnny only pitches when the Bay Dogs have a lead, and only against left-handed hitters. He works about ten minutes a night. Most guys in his position would be content to chew on sunflower seeds and let the money roll in. Not Johnny Adcock. He's the restless sort. He needs something to fill the rest of the day. That's why he works as a private detective. Worried your wife is cheating on you with the pool boy? Someone from your time in the minors trying to blackmail you? Johnny Adcock is your man.

The Setup Man combines my two favorite things: Private detectives, and private detectives who are also other things. Private detectives are my favorite fictional characters. As a child I loved them all: Encyclopedia Brown, Thomas Magnum, Rick and A.J. Simon. The A-Team was essentially a private eye super team. In high schoool I discovered Humphrey Bogart's Phillip Marlowe, still the greatest onscreen P.I. ever. After college I devoured the Continental Op stories of Dashiell Hammett, such as Red Harvest, for my money the best P.I. novel ever. I've spent many an afternoon or evening binge watching reruns of Psych or Monk. Private detectives are the best.

But the private detective who is also something else is even better. How can something be better that the best? Here's how: What would be better than a private detective who investigates the paranormal? Oh, I don't know, maybe a  private detective who investigates the paranormal and has a day job as a lifeguard. What could be better than a private detective played by Andy Richter? A private detective / accountant played by Andy Richter! And what could be better than a private eye who investigates the seedy underbelly of Major League Baseball? A private eye who investigates that seedy underbelly while having to pitch to lefties every couple of days.

I started reading The Setup Man late Tuesday night and finished on Wednesday. Once I started, I had to keep reading. That's about the highest praise you can give a P.I. novel. I needed to know what happened next, and I wanted to see how Johnny Adcock would solve the case. The book isn't perfect. There are a couple thudding moments of authorial intrudsion that feel like an after-school special, and the book jacket inexplicably features a right-handed pitcher, but the plot moves, the tone is charming, there is a vivid cast of characters, and the details about day to day life in the majors seem authentic. I can't wait for Johnny Adcock's next adventure. - Ryan Callahan

What We're Loving: Dreams Coming True, One-Armed Push-ups, 9/11 Truthers, Existensial Noir

dch_what we're loving_02_07_2014Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison is tired of your apathy, Sarah Wyatt reminds us there is still good in the world, Nick Scott has some questions about press conference stage craft, and Ryan Callahan unintentionally reveals his psyche.  

Broad CityOver the past few weeks, I've asked a number of people about the show Broad City and I’m starting to feel like I’m the only one watching it. I want that to change. Immediately. Broad City is a brand new Comedy Central show that follows the lives of Abbi and Ilana as they attempt to survive in New York City. Each episode is heavy on the banter between the two, which is always entertaining because of their fantastic chemistry. Plus, there’s usually a cameo featuring Hannibal Buress and his pitch perfect deadpan. What else do you need? Besides the show being really good, the reason I wanted to write about it this week is that these are the shows you need to be watching and supporting! Broad City was created by two improvisers from UCBNY Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer. They performed live together for a number of years and in 2009, created a web series that you can and should checkout. The online videos garnered a lot of attention and soon enough, they signed a deal to bring a show to TV. Basically, the path they took is the one that comedians are “supposed to” take if they want to make it. These are the sort of shows that, when successful, give aspiring performers hope that they can carve out a living doing comedy if they want. So watch this show because: a) It’s really funny, b) It’s your responsibility to, at the very least, give it a chance, and c) I want to be able to talk about it with you. - David Allison

pic1This week I'm loving Amanda Hahn. This woman is the most beautiful, amazing creature on the planet. This is not an exaggeration. Amanda is an improviser at Dallas Comedy House. She goes so hard in scenes, it's intense. I once watched her do one armed push ups for at least thirty seconds as a character in practice. She's strong. I am constantly in awe of her. This fine female is kind, cunning, and cute as hell, y'all. She's also super smart. When she's not improvising, Amanda is a doctoral student at the University of Texas at Dallas for Cognition and Neuroscience. If that doesn't intimidate you, I don't know what will. She can scan your brain! Your brain! On a computer! This one's got aspirations outside of science though. Her dream job is writing for The Daily Show or the Colbert Report or The Onion. She's not picky. Amanda is also just like the best human being you'll ever meet. She's always so supportive and happy, but not in annoying way, it's genuine, you guys. This week, for no reason, she photoshopped a picture of me hanging out with President Obama. Who does amazing things like that out of the blue?? Amanda goddamn Hahn, that's who. When I asked her if she minded me writing about her this week, she sent me a text probably longer than this post detailing interesting facts about her. She's thorough. One of them was that she loves talking to strangers so if you see an adorably funny, five foot comedy sexbeast running around Dallas, holla at her, cause she's amazing. You can see Amanda Hahn perform at Dallas comedy house with her troupes Dairy Based and Quirk. - Sarah Wyatt

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNQlRseW2NA

My pick for this week is this clip of a 9/11 truther interrupting a Super Bowl press conference. I have watched this clip over and over since Sunday and I laugh every time. Sometimes written or planned sketches just can't match up to real life. First, Malcolm Smith is wearing a shirt over his shoulder pads. Whenever I see football players do this I find it near impossible to take them seriously. To me they look like Delta Burke drank the ooze from TMNT II to become the Designing Women version of the Super Shredder.

But let's address the actual event: a "9/11 Truther" bum rushes the Super Bowl MVP's post-game interview. So many questions pop up in my mind: Who is this guy? Why did he choose this one moment? What has he been doing for the last decade that he thought now was the best moment to question the events of September 11, 2001? I wonder if Malcolm Brown is pissed that this rando did something more interesting than anything that Malcolm himself said or did in the interview? "I always picture myself making great plays but zzzzzzzzzzzzzz...."

Doing my research, I found out that the truther's name is Matthew Mills, and that he snuck into the press conference BY TELLING SECURITY THAT HE WAS LATE. Security. At the Super Bowl. The one American event that terrorists (or in the opinion of Matthew Mills, our own government) would salivate over setting off a bomb in. All they would have to do is tell the security guard they were late for the game and they would be in.

Also, apparently there was another guy named Matthew Mills who was mistaken as the Truther Matthew Mills, and went ahead and did interviews as him.

But the best part of this whole thing, is Malcolm Smith's reaction. He stares blankly for awhile then asks is everybody is okay. I'm sure what was going on in his head wasn't much more than "Uhhhhhhh..." but I like to think that his silence was a contemplation on the fact that as much we as a society like to place importance on irrelevant events such as the Super Bowl, the mere mention of 9/11 reminds us that everything that happened on Sunday night, including his award, was completely arbitrary. I mean, except for the Puppy Bowl. of course. RUNNER UP PICK: The Denver Broncos offense. - Nick Scott

GalvestonOver the past few weeks, I’ve become obsessed with HBO’s True Detective, the new series created by Nic Pizzolatto. With its combination of police procedural, rural creepiness, marital drama, and philosophical musings on the nature of man and faith and evil and life, True Detective is the best crime drama in recent memory. Pizzolatto covered much of the same terrain in his debut novel Galveston, which tells the story of “Big Country” Roy Cady, small-time muscle for a small-time mobster in New Orleans. Roy’s just found out he has lung cancer, his boss wants him dead, and he can’t resist entangling himself in the problems of a young girl he barely knows. I think it's safe to say we've all been there. The book is dark, brutal, truthful, violent, and at times, deeply funny. Not so much the laugh out loud kind of funny, more the W.C. Fields, “I laugh so I do not cry,” kind of funny. Comedians, writers, performers, human statues, artists of all types will find much to relate to in this book. At its core, Galveston is a book about keeping the world at arm’s length, about the kind of loneliness you can only feel in a room full of friends, about making terrible decisions for reasons you can’t explain. Most of all Galveston is a book about fear; the fear of looking foolish that makes us build walls around ourselves, the fear of being hurt that pushes away anyone who might love us, and that greatest fear of all, the fear that we deserve every terrible thing that will happen to us. Reading this book felt like taking a trip deep into my own mind. - Ryan Callahan