Tag Archives: sketch comedy

Diving In…

Three years ago I moved to Chicago in what seemed to many like a random decision. I had gone through a rough patch in NY where I realized I had been doing the same things in the same places with the same people night in and night out since 7th grade. The weird part though is I had a job I loved working for Apple, but I could not get past the fact that I was working in the mall that I had been going to every day for as long as I could remember living in suburbia. I needed to change something and Chicago offered the perfect opportunity to make a clean break.

I was able to move out here and not only keep my job with Apple but get promoted as well. In the last three years I’ve grown immensely, made amazing friends, traveled extensively, started taking improv classes, started working with Long Pork and really started to build my photo career with the launch of my ChicagoNow blog and a few new clients.

The only down side? It worked too well.

Moving out here has been liberating beyond my expectations, but I find myself so busy pursuing my passions that sleep and friendships suffer due to it. I also find myself turning down photo and design work I’d like to be doing due to conflicts with my full time hours. Three years into living here I once again have found myself in need of a change.

Effective next week I’ve decided to step down from my full time role and leadership responsibilities at Apple and into a more limited part time hours.

This will allow me to pursue my passions even further, recover a semblance of a social life and maybe, just maybe start sleeping again. There is a lot of traveling planned, for starters Long Pork and I are driving to NY next week for Sketchfest NYC at the UCB Theater. I am also going to finally get certified to skydive this year.

Last week on Friday Sydney Owen and I head out to the Chicagoland Skydiving Center to go for a tandem jump and enroll ourselves in the certification program. It’s going to be an interesting summer.

While I’ll admit I am nervous about what I’m leaving behind I am really excited about the road ahead. More to come soon.

Leveling Up and Leveling Out

Nintendo Cartridges.

2009 has been a heck of a year. While it’s really been a year of serious ups and downs for me, it’s also been a year of growth and learning. I’ve made some mistakes, but I’ve also made some awesome friends and I’ve grown as a person in ways I never would have imagined. This year I took some life changing trips to Berlin, Paris and St. Louis that taught me how to explore and be more independent. When I moved to Chicago three years ago it was precisely for this reason. I wanted to force myself to break out of my shell and stand completely on my own. It took me almost three years but I think I finally really accomplished that goal.

Last weekend I finished my Level 1 improv class at iO Chicago (formerly Improv Olympic) and I have to say it was one of the most liberating feelings I’ve experienced in a while. In the short amount of time it took to take the class I discovered sides of myself that I had never even imagined. Improv has forced me to change the way I think and has become something I look forward to every week. On top of that, I met some great people in class I’m happy to call friends. It’s no surprise that I’ve signed up for level 2 and I’m excited already. Improv has been an outlet for me during the most stressful time of year.

Now a few random notes:

My blog with ChicagoNow has been pushed back to Q1 of 2010. More info as I get it.

Long Pork has received it’s dates and times for San Francisco Sketchfest with two shows!

The first: January 29, 8pm at the Eureaka Theater and we’ll be opening for Theme Park Improv featuring Rachel Dratch, Edie McClurg, Danny Pudi, Jessica Makinson, Janet Varney and Cole Stratton.

Second: Jan 30th, 10:30pm at The Dark Room Theater with Marvin Berry and We Are Nudes.

Needless to say, we’re pretty excited.

That’s really all for now, but things are looking good. 2010 has a lot of good things coming, more traveling, SXSWi again and the restarting of TheChicagoGuys.com and more. The future may be unwritten, but the rough draft sounds pretty good.

Thankful

Friends laughing.

Today is the American holiday of Thanksgiving and rather than be a cynic I’m going to appreciate it this year. I have a lot to be thankful for right now.

I recently had a major job opportunity with an advertising agency come my way that would have brought with it a complete change of my lifestyle.

It was a very eye opening experience that made me assess the things in my life and what was important to me. Ultimately I turned the offer down, and while it was a really hard decision I don’t regret it at all. I would have had to give up a lot of things I do outside of my job with Apple that are my true passions, things I one day hope to be able to sustain myself alone on.

I am now in my third year of living in Chicago and I’m fortunate to have a really great group of friends a really great job and a ton of opportunities.

Long Pork is doing really well, we recently got accepted to Chicago Sketchfest and San Francisco Sketchfest and we are ramping up for a run of our new show in the very near future.

I recently signed a contract with Tribune to run the first photo blog on ChicagoNow.com an opportunity that I am very flattered and excited by. More on this soon…

I’m planning to start teaching photography classes at Pumping Station One likely in January.

There is also the little things: I’m taking improv classes at iO Chicago and am loving every second and it’s really causing a shift in my thinking. Just this week I (re)launched MailServerSettings.com a very simple, small website that IT professionals and Mac Geniuses have told me they love. Not much to it but it’s a handy little tool. Lastly, I’ll be celebrating five years with Apple officially in January a milestone I’m really proud of.

More than anything I’m thankful for the amazing people I’ve met here in Chicago and continue to meet. I often say that the most important thing to me is my friends and I mean that. I’m very fortunate to be blessed by a lot of amazing people in my life. People who believe in me, people who challenge me, people who remind me to be my best, and people who I can just have a good time with. That is really what I’m thankful for more than anything.

Getting up to speed…

Whitney Hess rocking it at An Event Apart Chicago

I’ve been extremely busy for the last month and this blog has gotten the short end of the stick. I greatly enjoyed updating every day while I was in Berlin and then I dropped off. I still have yet to write about Paris or upload my photos. (It’s coming… I swear!) I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things very soon.

Unfortunately today I woke up unable to speak and given that my day job is nothing but speaking, I was unable to do said job. Well there is always a silver lining if you look hard enough so the time I would otherwise be spending in bed will be spent working on neglected projects and doing everything in my power not to get sicker.

So to get up to speed with what I’ve been doing lately…

You may have noticed a redesign of the site is under way, this is because I greatly be expanding it in the near future to encompass much more of my work and who I am. By no act of coincidence I have filed to be, and officially become a limited liability corporation. I’ve sort of followed in the footsteps of my good friend Leah Jones and Subism.com is now the home of Subism Studios LLC. (though I’ve yet to quit my job like Leah did.. she has more guts than I.) This legal status will aid me in my photographic / artistic pursuits but also gets me well setup for my next few big ventures the first of which, has been no big secret but hasn’t been formally announced until today.

Early next year I will be working with Chicago sketch comedy group Long Pork to produce their next original production. The project is still untitled but I’ve been involved in several planning meetings and the boys have come up with some really good stuff that I think people will love. I worked with the group a bit in May to help promote their show ‘Soda’ at the Apollo Theatre Studio and had a blast. Since then I’ve joined the team in a non acting role as their head of marketing which started off by redesigned their website. Taking on the producer role is to both parties a natural extension of our relationship and I’m really excited to work with them.

There are other projects I’m working on but I’ll talk about them when the time comes.

I’ve also had a few other jobs I had the pleasure of working on. The first was for Gals’ Guide where I designed the logo for the first ever Gals’ Guide Summit and acted as the official event photographer. For those unfamiliar, Gals’ Guide is a great website for career orientated women in their 20’s who live in major cities and want to start a network and connect. The Summit was their first ever gathering with lectures and information galore. All of this of course is put together by the wonderful Blagica Bottigliero who in addition to being a master organizer / promoter is about to have a baby any day now.  Her energy and drive absolutely astounds me in that regard. The event went extremely well and although I am a guy and not at all their target market I learned a lot. You can find my pictures of the event here.

The next job I had was only a few days ago and it’s one I was personally very excited about. The past two years I have attended An Event Apart Chicago. For the unintroduced An Event Apart is a conference for people who make websites. Put together by Jeffrey Zeldman and Eric Meyer, An Event Apart features the leading names in the field and offers rich content and astounding insight into where things are going. It’s been a blast every time I’ve gone, I always learn a ton and have wound up making some great contacts and friends from it. This year I got the opportunity to work the event as it’s official photographer and spent my time working on the images throughout the event and uploading them live through the show. This is something I had experimented with at the Gals’ Guide event but it had a much more profound effect at AEA, not only did my Flickr traffic go through the roof, but I had people stopping me in the conference halls to complement me on my work. This was a service I was glad to provide for the guests of An Event Apart and I look forward to more opportunities like this in the future.  You can find my photos here and Jeffrey Zeldman’s post conference wrap up here.

Lastly, next Saturday I start taking Level 1 Improv classes at iO Chicago. I’m not quite sure what my intention of doing so is but I’m really nervous and really excited at the same time.

With the exception of a few other topics that warrant their own entries (like Paris) this pretty much brings you up to speed on all things John. Look for a lot of changes to this site gradually over the next few weeks.