For those of you that read Royals Review, you may have seen a segment they started called Better Know a Commenter. In fact it was such a great idea that I decided to steal it for RCT. I will be conducting these on a semi-regular basis. If you are a regular commenter to RCT, I will get to you at some point.
Commercialeer, thanks for joining us for the inaugural Meet the Commenters. Let’s start off with the basics, how did you get to be a Jayhawk fan?
My dad was stationed at Fort Leavenworth while I was in high school. I moved around a lot so when it came time to choose a college in 2002, I decided to stay around with the friends I had made and went to KU. So, my freshman year they almost went all the way and lost to Syracuse. It was heart-breaking, and one wondered what kind of a God would allow us get that close to a championship and then barely fall short. My intense passion has not ebbed.
How and when did you find Rock Chalk Talk?
In 2008, I was stationed at Fort Riley and came back to Lawrence whenever I could. Later that year we deployed to Iraq, and it was bit tougher to get back to my old college town on weekends, so I started to read the blogs. I used to only go to Yahoo for Jayhawk content, which is unbelievable to me now.
Let's back things up a little bit, where are you from and what did your folks do when you were growing up?
As I stated in my previous answer, my dad was in the Army so we moved all over the place. I was born overseas, and we lived in quite a few states growing up. My mom's dad was in the Navy and her step-dad was in the Army, so it's just always been a part of our lives. A lot of kids talk about being a military brat like it's somehow disadvantageous, but it's not. You learn how to make friends really easily, and you are exposed to more parts of the country and world. I think I'm a more well-rounded person because of it. Moving didn't suck, because it was a whole new place and very exciting. It did suck when one of your friends moved, but the world is getting smaller with the advent of the internet and social media. But yeah, staying put was always harder for me. Even now, we've been in Chicago for three years and I think that's the longest I've been anywhere besides Lawrence.
What kind of a kid were you when you were younger? I know you have an interest in musical theater and you do some improv work. Was that something your parents encouraged?
Both of my parents worked and I was an only child, so it's not crazy for me to say that I was raised by television. I don't know why, but it must have made a mark on me because I've always been pretty obsessed with comedy. One of the easiest ways to make friends was to get people to laugh, and sometimes as the new kid, that was your in. I was pretty good at sports and pretty good at school, but I always tried to make people laugh. My comedy idols were Chris Farley, Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler, and that crew. My dad was in the Army band before becoming and officer, and my mom was a flute minor in college, so the performing arts were always encouraged. Any play or band or anything like that that I wanted to pursue, they were always encouraging. Even when I got out of the Army and said I want to go to Chicago to do comedy, they looked a little afraid, but they never tried to talk me out of it or anything.
I believe you are one of a few former armed forces members of RCT. First off, thank you for your service. What branch did you serve and what made you want to join?
I joined the Army because that's what my dad had done. Growing up, I never thought I was going to join but I needed to pay for college and I didn't really want to ask my parents to do it. I also knew it was a guaranteed job at the end, and so it just made sense I guess. The Army sucked, but it sucked while you were surrounded by some of the best people in the world.
Were you ever deployed overseas? I have heard from people who served in Iraq and Afghanistan that it's 99% sheer boredom and 1% sheer terror. Does that seem accurate to you?
Everyone has a different kind of deployment. For most people, it's exactly as you described: 99% boredom and 1% sheer terror. There are some soldiers who had different numbers than that, and it sucks. I was incredibly lucky and had very few moments of sheer terror. The thing about deployment is that you can't compare it to what happened other people. If you were one of the people who had a bad deployment, you could get pissed off about people who didn't. If you are in the group that had an easy deployment, you'll feel guilty. There's no way to really accurately sum it all up. I just know that I read a lot of RCT, and little things like that helped.
Are there any funny or interesting stories from your time in the service you would like to share with our readers?
I'll change the names to protect the guilty here... But, one time, when we first got to Iraq, this local Iraqi power-broker type guy decided to have a feast for us. It would be rude to not accept food from hosts like that, so we were all going to go and eat and they were going to slaughter a goat and it was going to be a whole thing. Anyway, for whatever reason we weren't allowed off the base the day that we were supposed to have the feast, so we called the guy up and rescheduled for the next day.
So, the next day, I'm in the PL's truck with him, his driver and gunner, and an "attachment" named Captain Felding who was a Civil Affairs officer. As we're about drive off the base, Captain Felding remarks that her mic in her helmet doesn't work. No big deal, that happens sometimes, says the PL, so we keep moving.
So, we're driving out to this guy's house and the PL is on the radio in the truck and he says, "Hey, Matt, if I was you, I'd stick to vegetables at this feast," and I was like, "Okay, why?" and he said, "Dude, they slaughtered that goat yesterday..." I said, "Yeah.... And?" and he said, "Do you see any refrigeration devices out here?" and I put two and two together. So I ate all the veggies I could, and politely refused the goat. The PL did the same thing. We looked down to the end of the table, and sure enough, Captain Felding, who did not have a working headset, is just going to town on the goat. Like she had starved herself in preparation for this goat. Me and the PL just looked at each other and cracked up for like five minutes. Anyway, we had to stop a few times on the way back, not to get too graphic.
That is hilarious. So what did you do after getting out?
When I got out I started going to DePaul but it was too expensive, and I got a good job offer so grad school came to an abrupt end.
So army, some grad school…what do you now do for work? Is it something you find fulfilling?
I work as a broadcast engineer, and it puts food on the table, but I don't know that I feel as much satisfaction as being a leader in the Army. People do love our product and so I guess it's nice to help provide something that people love.
What the heck does a broadcast engineer actually do?
What a broadcast engineer does is changing constantly. It used to be mostly working with electrical engineering and mainly concerned with the passage of one electronic signal to another with the lowest possible noise or chance of failure. Now (like everything) it's automated by computers a lot more. I more or less work as a point of contact for affiliates (people out all over the U.S. like Alaska, Hawaii, Tampa, Washington D.C. anywhere) when they are having trouble receiving our signal and passing it along over the air on a terrestrial antenna. A lot of networking and satellite stuff. How I ended up doing this job, I really have no idea.
You mentioned something about second city the other day. Will we be seeing you on Saturday night live someday?
The cool thing about Chicago is that there are a ton of theaters and outlets for creativity here. You want to do a burlesque show about Super Mario? You can do it. You want to do an Improvised Friday Night Lights where people just make up an episode of Friday Night Lights? You can find a theater that will put it up. So in that respect, it's a great place to learn what is funny and what is not funny. That being said, it's really saturated, and the bright-eyed kids that come here and think they are going to be on SNL in the next year get disillusioned really quick. You need to go to LA or NY to really start making money, and every year, more and more of my friends do that very thing. The biggest thing that people learn here is that you have to create your own content. All the people on SNL now are also writers, and they got to that level by writing their own stuff. Anyway, I'm working on a musical about my time in the Army, and if I can just put it up a few times, that'll be rewarding enough. Getting on SNL is a silly goal. Learning how to be really funny is a better goal. But some people do it, and I've worked with some people that I would not be surprised at all if they got on a show or something. I've definitely shifted to writing though, because again, it's pretty saturated.
Keep us in the loop on the musical. That sounds like something I would like to see. By the way, congratulations on being a soon to be new father. What is your best dad joke?
So all the animals of the jungle hanging out, and they've been drinking a lot of jungle beer and the Rhino walks up to the Lion and says "Hey man, who the hell made you the king of the jungle?" and the Lion says "Well, I'm the king because I always have been... What's it to you?" and there's definitely about to be a big fight. The wise old monkey breaks it up though and says "Hey, listen. Let's settle this civilly. We'll play football next Sunday and the Rhino is the captain of one team and the Lion is the captain of the other.
So cut to next Saturday. The Lion's team loses the toss and they are kicking off first. The Zebra is on his team and he back up and kicks the ball deep into the Rhino's field. The Rhino catches it and he bowls over the Tiger, and he bowls over the Giraffe, and he bowls over the Alligator. He's at the 15, the 10, the 5 and bam. Touchdown: Rhino Team. And this happens over and over again. Whenever the Rhino gets the ball, he runs over everyone and scores a touchdown.
So at halftime, the Lion gets his team together and says, "Guys, we've got to get out there and we've got to try harder! I've always been the king of the jungle! Let's go win this game!" and the team all cheers and they rush out. The Zebra lines up and kicks it off to the Rhino, who catches it and starts charging down the field. He bowls over the Tiger, he bowls over the Giraffe, he bowls over the Alligator... He's at the 15, the 10, the 5...
All of the sudden, the Centipede jumps up, slams the Rhino to the ground, causes a fumble, the Lion recovers and runs it back. The Lion's team is celebrating in the endzone, everyone is cheering and yelling, and the Lion runs up to the Centipede and says, "Hey man! Great tackle! Where the hell were you during the first half?!"
And the Centipede says, "Well, I was putting on my cleats."
I groaned and then laughed. Well done. If I were to visit you in the city you live in, where would you take me and what would we do?
If you came to Chicago, we'd go to http://hqbeercade.com/ and then The Crossing to get fishbowls, then a show at iO where you'd laugh until you cried.
Current City Chicago
Facial hair Bearded usually
Any pets Negative
What kind of car do you drive I take public transporation. My wife has a Kia Soul
Corrective lenses Negative. The Army lasered my eyes. It's the best.
Hair style Awesome
Favorite movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Favorite tv show I'm going to go with Lost. It was just a great experience.
Favorite beer Whatever is on special
Favorite band Wilco
Favorite food French fries
Favorite non KU team Kansas City Royals/Chiefs/tOSU Buckeyes for Mrs. Commercialeer
Favorite All-Time KU Player: Tyshawn Taylor, The Swagger, the Legend.
First Concert: Reel Big Fish at the Grenada. The air conditioning wasn't working so they didn't play for very long and they spent most of the time yelling at the staff and throwing bottled water to the fans. I didn't know any better and thought it was awesome. Ska used to be a thing.
First W-2 Job: Taco Bell in the Fort Leavenworth PX (a military department store-type place). The day I turned 16, my mom told me I had to get a job, which sucked. So I went to the PX HR department, and they had me fill out my qualifications and said I could work in Electronics (the dream job). Then later they said I would be working Taco Bell. The next day, a guy I knew was applying for a job and said he was going to be working in Electronics, but sure enough, he was working the hot dog stand next to me by the week's end. I ended up getting a bro for life, however. The hotdog stand guy ended up being in my wedding party ten years later, so all's well the end's well. Also, slinging tacos is humbling and I recommend it for any young buck that needs to be taken down a peg or two.
Best Athlete Seen In Person: I shook Joe Montana's hand and got a picture with him in 4th grade. He was nice, but I could tell he didn't want to be signing autographs. I once saw Aaron Miles while walking on campus, and he asked me for some batteries. I had an iPod so I told him I didn't have any batteries, but I thought it was weird that he thought I'd just give him my batteries. Michael Lee was in my Intro to Drama class and he seemed pretty smart.
A big thanks to commercialeer. Follow him on twitter at www.twitter.com/commercialeer