Comedian Nato Green is no stranger to these pages: in 2010, he was named "Best Comedian," and he was profiled in a 2011 cover story as well. As one third of the comedy trio Laughter Against the Machine, Green (along with fellow Machinists W. Kamau Bell and Janine Brito) highlighted the political and social inequalities that presently define this country. Now, after spending several months in New York writing for Bell's FX series, Totally Biased, Green is back in San Francisco with a couple of major new additions to his CV.
Just before The Business's founding member Alex Koll relocated to New York last month, Nato joined San Francisco's much-lauded weekly stand-up show -- and he's joining at a time of growth for the troupe, which performs every Wednesday at The Dark Room. Not only is the original S.F. chapter going through a partial changing of the guard, but the recently-established Los Angeles chapter is also taking off with weekly shows at the Lyric-Hyperion Theater, and Koll plans to set up a New York outpost in the near future.
Nato's latest video for JCCSF.
Beyond The Business and his regular stand-up dates (he recently opened for Maria Bamford in Sacramento and will perform at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival in Portland later this month), Green is launching a brand-new series of live discussions, The Nato Sessions, sponsored by JCCSF and its storytelling program, 3200 Stories. The series runs each of the remaining Mondays in April, with the first event scheduled tonight (the 8th) at Stage Werx Theatre in the Mission.
The Nato Sessions are Green's foray into the comedy podcasting world, but as he said in a recent interview, the series has been designed initially a live event, with the podcast element being an important, but secondary, concern. For this initial series of four events, Green has lined up a group of exciting guests -- all writers of some stripe, but each quite unique.
Tonight's guest will be Gerard Jones, formerly a writer of comics such as Green Lantern, Justice League, and of an acclaimed history of comics called Men of Tomorrow. Jones also teaches writing workshops at the San Francisco Writers' Grotto and is currently at work on a history of American tabloid media.
Nato's other guests will include Helene Wecker, whose first novel (The Golem and the Jinni) is about to be released, and Ayelet Waldman, the Berkeley-based author of such best-sellers as Daughter's Keeper and Red Hook Road.
Perhaps Nato's biggest "get" for the series, however, is his professional forerunner, the great political satirist Mort Sahl. These days a Mill Valley resident, Sahl was a groundbreaking comedian in the days when stand-up was (a) not quite a fully-established art form and (b) loath to tackle political material. Self-described as a "radical," Sahl was known for toting that day's newspaper with him whenever he went onstage, but he was no Leno doing "Headlines." His comedy cut to the quick, dissecting the issues in a few choice words. Green's own comedy owes a lot to this approach, which is one reason we expect their conversation (on April 22) to be the highlight of this initial series -- which Nato hopes will continue beyond the four dates currently set for this month.
The Nato Sessions are scheduled to begin at 7pm on the following Mondays: April 8, 15, 22, and 29 at the Stage Werx Theatre (446 Valencia between 15th and 16th Streets). For more information, visit www.natogreen.com.