STAND-UP TUESDAYS: Nato Green

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Stand-Up Tuesdays is a weekly comedy spotlight written by the wonderfully talented Angie Frissore. Covering both known and unknown comics, Stand-up Tuesdays is your new source for all things funny.

This week, Angie puts a spotlight on Bobbie Oliver. If you or your comedy troupe would like to be featured on Stand-Up Tuesdays, please email utgjames@gmail.com.

Nato Green has a knack for making people feel stupid.

Well, not intentionally, per se – but Green’s incredibly sharp wit and highly intelligent brand of cerebral humor will no doubt leave a few who listen to it feeling slightly silly for not quite getting the joke at times. The San Francisco native releases his debut album today, The Nato Green Party, via Rooftop Comedy Productions – a mere twenty-eight days after its recording in early May at The New Parish in Oakland, California.

It’s somewhat surprising to me that this is Green’s first comedy album, given we’ve seen the comedian blogging for Huffington Post as well as being the creator of Iron Comic, the Iron Chef­spoofing comedy game show that he often co­hosts with Moshe Kasher.  In the last year, after retiring from a fourteen­year career as a union organizer, Nato worked on the pilot presentation for W. Kamau Bell’s new Chris Rock­produced late night show, Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell. The show will premiere for six episodes on the FX network on August 9. He tours with W. Kamau Bell & Janine Brito as Laughter Against the Machine, the guerrilla stand­up comedy tour, like Doctors Without Borders with jokes. Laughter Against the Machine conducted a Kickstarter campaign to film a feature­length tour documentary from the frontlines of American controversy, unexpectedly landing in the middle of Occupy Wall Street and the Oakland general strike. The documentary will be released this summer.

As for The Nato Green Party, the CD is probably the fastest hour I’ve spent listening to a comedy CD in a long time. Green keeps the punches rolling, despite the sometimes slower-paced feel to his stage presence. Green may take his time setting up a joke, but more often than not you’ll find that you still somehow missed the punch line. As he talks about being a father to young twins, he tells his audience that he and his wife opted not to find out the babies’ gender before they were born.

“We didn’t want to find out the gender in advance; we wanted to be surprised. People kept asking us, ‘Nato, Nato – what are you having?’ Green describes. “Jews. Or I’ll be pissed.”

Even when describing his experiences taking political action by joining protests, Green makes the situation seem ridiculously hilarious in his ever-astute observations.

“They [cops] get to me, and they pull on me and I didn’t move,” Green recalls. ”And then they get some more cops around and they pull on me and I didn’t move. Then, one of them took my hand and said, ‘If you don’t walk out of here, we’re going to break your wrist.’ And then they started to break my wrist. If there is no other benefit to being white, it’s that the police tell you before they break your wrist. You get like a thirty-second head start. So, I walked out of there, because I have principles but not if there are consequences.”

While Green’s stage presence is somewhat reminiscent of that of Andy Woodhull in its lack of extreme vocal inflection, attention should be paid as Green is not the type of comedian to call-back a joke or to give his audience time to reflect on any unexpected twist to a punch line. He knows his comedy is intelligent, as he almost gears his material exclusively to the intellectual liberal audience – but that’s not to say it can’t be enjoyed by all.  Perhaps the best summation of Green’s work comes from Jeff Chang, Author of Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip­Hop Generation, and the forthcoming Who We Be: The Colorization of America: “Nato Green—an unabashed Left Coast, labor organizing, immigrant­loving, foodie—turns the art of laughing at himself into some of the most incisive comedy of our time. If you hate liberals or are one, he’s the comic for you.”

Pick up your copy of Nato Green’s The Nato Green Party today via Rooftop Comedy Productions – and take a much-deserved break from the penis-and-fart jokes that one typically finds in stand-up.

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