Nathan Maul – Sketchpad Producer

All month we’ve been featuring posts from the people of Sketchpad Comedy. Today’s post comes from STL Sketchpad Producer Nathan Maul.

Nathan, like many who have come to sketchpad had no idea who I was and I had no idea who he was. We ran in similar improv circles but, we had never really crossed paths. Now, we are basically lovers. Sketch comedy lovers… Hear from Nathan about his early experience with Sketchpad Comedy.


1909681_10153501457661958_343160122084685732_nThere comes a part in every person’s life when they are asked a very loaded question: “so, what do you want to do when you grow up?” It was cute when young Nathan, clad with glasses and a bowl cut, would say, “a Cardinals baseball player!”

Awwwwww!

But as you get older, that answer doesn’t exactly hold up to a jury of your peers, especially when you’re a teenager whose athletic prowess is only marginally greater than the actors from High School Musical (that being said, I would still challenge that basketball team to a game of 1-on-5—watching them practice the three-man weave is akin to watching Johnny and Mark throw the football around in The Room.). Luckily, I realized early on I had other interests, one of which was comedy writing.

By the time I hit high school, I was as awkward as you can imagine. My voice cracked with the
day’s dawn and continued through the top of the hour, every hour, until my hormones weighed so heavily on me that I fell asleep. I had a cereal bowl for a chest that eventually required surgery, which meant I naturally forfeited any pre-surgery pool parties, a sentence that relegates you to no higher than middle-class popularity. One of the only, and I mean only, benefits to having no sexual capital in high school is that it makes you a funnier person, and luckily for me, I had a friend who shared the exact sense of humor.

She became my “writing partner” for lack of better terms. We both wrote satirical articles for the school newspaper and eventually landed our opus: a musical based on “Queen’s Greatest Hits” soundtrack. After that, I knew for sure that writing was something I was not only passionate about, but something I might actually be good at. It became more than a hobby, but a means by which I identified as a human being. I love comedy.10419462_3120450012337_3587187911138324165_n

Flash forward about six years. I had just graduated from the Improv Shop and was ready to become a full-time improviser. Much to my elation, Jason Flamm sent out a feeler for his second edition of a show he was calling “STL Sketchpad,” which was a beacon of hope to people like me who love improv, but were really looking to get into writing. Luckily, he liked what I wrote and offered me a spot that month. Finally, I was going to get my shot!

Instead of meeting at HLK, where we’ve grown so spoiled to call home these days, we met at Schlafly over beer (which, come to think of it, doesn’t exactly sound like a punishment—any effort on my part to turn this into a “back in my day” story just failed). Looking back, a common denominator about that cast is that just about everyone was already immersed in the St. Louis comedy scene. Honestly, I felt a little in over my head.

We had people from STL Up Late, Bareknuckle Comedy, The Catalogue, and then me, a wannabe SNL writer with no credits and severe social neurosis. I hardly had enough time to be excited about my selection before I thought: whoa, what am I doing here?

But then, at the table read, it was my turn to read my scripts.

And I got a laugh. Then another laugh. Then another laugh. Finally, I started to relax. By the time I got my feedback, I was getting so comfortable by the process that I didn’t even force myself through the five stages of grief. I was actually doing this thing I identified within myself as being important part of who I wanted to be. I was euphoric!

Until show night.

10405587_675302685925361_4383000904603343798_nThe night before, I didn’t sleep but three hours. I hardly ate. I burrowed so far in my head all day that I actually felt less like I was being myself than I was Being John Malkovich. Finally, when I got to the Satori, which was our “back in my day” version of The Marcelle Theater, I got my stuff together, I ran lines, I dry heaved, and I finally got on stage in front of all sorts of family and friends. And you know what? I survived. In fact, my second sketch actually did really well! Finally, I had my affirmation.

This, this is what you want to do.

Things are a little different now. We meet in a totally professional office space. We meet consistently every week, sometimes more. We have a podcast and a blog and a set group of producers who put in the hours to make every show a top-tier performance.

But most of all, we have each other.

Ha! That was stupid. No, but what I really was going to say is experience. We have experience now. Each producer is committed to helping writers and performers, be they virgins or regulars, go from dry heaving in the green room to being so raptured by the moment that they can hardly remember it, which makes it a moment they’ll never forget.12745419_10153935979229324_1546559965797803158_n

Ha! Okay, that last one was for me again. But seriously, I wouldn’t be writing this blog if it weren’t for people like Jason and Logan Short and the other producers and writers who have said, “Nathan, calm down, you’ll be fine…your parents aren’t even here so there’s no one to disappoint.”

I kind of see that as my path now: to make sure everyone has access to comedy and that no one puts as much pressure on themselves as I did (do). I wholeheartedly believe that comedic potential is infinite in this flawed universe we are so fortunate to inhabit.

As comedians, it’s our job to go out and find it.

For more producer interviews check out Angela Smith and Erica Lee

If you’re curious how to write with STL Sketchpad check out “Write With Us”

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