HOW AND WHY DID YOU GET INTO THE TOY AND GAME INDUSTRY?
Thanksgiving is big in my family and a couple of years ago we had about 30 relatives at my farm and one night the younger generation was playing a game called Cards Against Humanity. They were all laughing, but the game has some words and expressions in it that would make a convict blush and I told them they had to play it in the basement because their grandparents, aunts and uncles were there and I didn’t want to have to take anyone to the hospital on a holiday.
I thought, “There must be a way to make a game funny, that would appeal to several generations without being filthy.” So I sat down and wrote about 500 punch lines; things that just sounded funny. Then I wrote 100 set ups that pertained to relatives.
The idea for the game was simple. One person would read the set up and then everybody else would submit the punch line they thought would get the biggest laugh.
I wrote it all out on note cards and had friends and family play it and it worked beyond anything I had hoped for. The rest is history and that is how I got in the game business.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW?
I have already written the expansion deck for Relative Insanity. I continue to do stand up comedy, which I still love. I draw, I paint. I continue to do voice work for animated projects and to escape I work on my farm on a tractor and a bulldozer.
WHAT DOES YOUR TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE?
Haha, well I don’t have many typical days. A lot of mornings I do interviews for upcoming shows and projects. If I am working that day I head to the airport. I do the show in the evening then back to the hotel for a late dinner and I am usually out on the first flight out the next morning.
On Tuesday mornings I work at a homeless shelter. I have been doing it for ten year and it is my favorite morning of the week. One or two days a week I try to get to my farm, which is about an hour south of Atlanta. We plant about 300 acres a year and have miles and miles of dirt roads so there is always something there to keep me sweaty and busy.
WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING PART OF YOUR JOB?
Just making people laugh. I have always said that laughter is the release valve that keeps the boiler from exploding. Everybody is going through some type of struggle and laughter doesn’t make problems go away but it recharges us enough to go out there and fight another day.
WHAT IS THE WORST JOB YOU EVER HAD AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM IT?
When I was in high school, friends and I got jobs one summer working at Six Flags in Georgia. We thought it would be a great way to meet girls. We assumed we would be working on the log ride and that it would be the endless wet t-shirt contest. Not quite. The park gave me a double knit smock and put me in a booth sewing names on sailor hats. I worked long days and every weekend and made $1.70 an hour.
I learned that no girls will talk to a guy that sews names on sailor hats. Bad job, bad summer.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE TOY OR GAME AS A CHILD?
I played every sport and we were outside most of the time. As far as games, my family always liked board games so I played a lot of Aggravation and Yahtzee as a child. They are very fond memories.
WHERE DID YOU GROW UP AND HOW DID THAT INFLUENCE WHO YOU ARE TODAY?
I grew up in a little town called Hapeville, Georgia near the Atlanta airport. Now when I say near, we literally lived at the end of the runway. It was a great place to grow up but it was probably lower middle class so you had to work for everything you got. No one was born with a silver spoon in their mouth. A plastic “spork” from KFC maybe but no silver spoon.
It taught me to not be scared of hard work. Even though TV and Stand up comedy are a blast I still always worked hard at it. I had eight years in a row where I did over 500 shows a year. Many nights it was multiple shows in multiple places. But I think that is how I got good at what I do. I was given a gift and I never took it for granted.
HOW DO YOU JUMPSTART YOUR CREATIVITY WHEN YOU ARE STALLED ON A PROJECT?
Most of the time whether it is writing or painting, I have found that just walking away for a little bit helps. I can kind of zone out when I concentrate too long, so sometimes I just go walk for a few miles, clear my head and then dive back into it.
Often I get up early to write because I like that it’s quiet and the phone hasn’t started ringing yet. Late at night doesn’t work well for me as much.
If I am stuck on a joke or a book I often call one of my comedian buddies and run it by them. Sometimes a fresh look is all you need, and I do the same thing for them.
WHEN IS THE LAST TIME YOU LAUGHED OUT LOUD AND WHAT CAUSED IT?
This afternoon. My brother brought over a big box of t-shirts for me to sign and when he was halfway up the stairs the bottom busted out of the box. That made me laugh really hard and I also learned a couple of new combinations of words!