This is the official blog of Northern Arizona slam poet Christopher Fox Graham. Begun in 2002, and transferred to blogspot in 2006, FoxTheBlog has recorded more than 670,000 hits since 2009. This blog cover's Graham's poetry, the Arizona poetry slam community and offers tips for slam poets from sources around the Internet. Read CFG's full biography here. Looking for just that one poem? You know the one ... click here to find it.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Slam Tutorial: Embrace Your Inner Nerd - Generally

Your secret shame, be it Star Wars, the Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potty, audiences love it when you Embrace Your Inner Nerd. If you secretly love a nerdy topic, your audience likely does, too. Embrace it, milk it and push the limits.
If you can liken your nerd-love to real-world topics, either dramatic or humorous, you can greatly win over an audience. Half the fun is indulging in your nerdy passion, the other half is making it relevant to an audience who may only have a tangential relationship to the topic.

There are several subspecies, the most common of which is: Stereotypical Nerd

Shappy Seasholtz's "I Am That Nerd" is not just a celebration of all that is nerdy - alluding to Star Wars, real world scientists Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking, E.T. and A.L.F. - but also great slam poems.
The poem touches on these topics to give reference but doesn't delve into them so deeply that the audience might get lost, for instance, "Han Solo hit / on Boba Fett that caused him to fall into the / Sarlac pit?" is perhaps the most obscure science fiction reference and even it isn't all that deep. He easily could have explored the metaphor into generally known Star Wars canon and even obscurely known fanon, yet keeps the poem flowing on the surface level so that those who have only seen the original Star Wars trilogy once can keep in touch.
On the poetic side, "I Am That Nerd" mimics Saul Williams' manifesto "Sha Clack Clack," one of the best-known poems in the national poetry slam scene, Williams' spiritualistic poem "Ohm," and Kayo's "Who Am I?"
Shappy's title "I Am That Nerd" is a direct allusion to Williams' hook line "I am that nigga," from "Sha Clack Clack."

"I Am That Nerd"
By Shappy Seasholtz

I am that nerd
I am that eternal nerd of spoken word
What can I say?
Spent all my rent money buying action figures on eBay!
I didn't come over to chit-chat
I came here to role-play!
I will smite thee with my 12-sided die
You better watch out
Cuz I'm coming atcha with my nerd eye!
I'm rocking you like Geddy Lee
I'd talk to more girls if they didn't make me
want to pee
I'm a magical elf
Keep your hands off my Star Wars shelf
That's right bitch -- that's a Jawa with its
original plastic cape
Don't that flip your switch?
Like the switch Han Solo hit
on Boba Fett that caused him to fall into the
Sarlac pit?
Lest we forget!
I'm coming at you in 3-D
Keepin' it reel with two EE's, y'see?
And there's nothing you can do
Cuz I'm so much nerdier and smarter than you!
I had Stephen Hawking -- gawking and gasping
for air
Blew his mind with my knowledge and he fell
out of his chair!
I beat Matthew Broderick at war games with my Atari
I dug up Einstein's bones and made them say I'm sorry
for that weak-ass theory of relativity
Cuz MC Squared=Me, see?
I'm the plastic baby Jesus in your mind's nativity
I'll deprogram your mind with my Commodore 64
I'm so rich with nerd power
I make Bill Gates feel poor!
I will kidnap George Lucas from Skywalker ranch
and lock him in my basement until he removes
Jar-Jar Binks from every frame of Phantom Menace
and Attack of the Clones and replaces him with me!
For I am an ancient Jedi Knight; only Yoda could be older
I knocked Mork's space egg out of orbit and made it crash in Boulder
I'm the one who gave Darth Vader asthma
I liquefied Alf and E.T. and drank their plasma
Only I can unravel the mystery of the Sith
Cuz I knocked over the Black Monolith
with my boner!
Bet you didn't see that one cumming!
I'm a mystical nerd shaman who never stops
drumming on your stupid, stupid mind!
I'm the Original Star Trek and you are
Deep Space Nine!
I spin webs round your soul like Spidey on acid
Because my nerd rocket is taking off
And your shit be flaccid -- OHM!

Shappy attended Eastern Michigan University on a speech scholarship and went on to win two National Forensics titles in After Dinner speaking and Dramatic Duo. He also acted and directed several plays including Pop Manifesto (a one-act play Shappy wrote in which all of the dialogue was commercial jingles) which won Shappy an undergraduate Symposium Award.

After college, Shappy joined The Great Theatre Migration of 91 to Chicago. He formed several theatre companies with his college buddies and wrote and performed his own material. One show was a throwback to the Living Newspaper of the Great Depression era in which current events were acted out on stage called Every Speck Of Dust That Falls To Earth. Shappy also worked with members of the Neo-futurists for a musical about quantum physics.

Shappy eventually discovered the Poetry Slam at The Green Mill and wound up being taped (and bleeped twice) for CNN. He won a slam and ended up touring with Lollapalooza 1994, spreading the word of Nerd Power and making lots of friends along the way. The next year he "Shappy-roned" the first ever Austin slam team to the Nationals and has been an honorary Austin poet ever since, performing at nearly every South by Southwest the last 8 years.

Shappy then tried his schtick in the Chicago comedy scene. He hosted his own live talk show (Nite Cap with Shap) and appeared in the Chicago Comedy Festival 4 times including the Neil Hamburger Show. He also appeared regularly at Midnight Bible School at the legendary Second City.

Shappy has competed at a National Poetry Slam only once so far for the Mad Bar team in 2000. He made it as far as the Individual Semis and was asked to perform in Denmark with Beau Sia and Shayne Koyczan.

Shappy has had 2 books published by Kapow! Press including Little Book Of Ass which won a Firecracker Award for best poetry in 2000. He also has a CD called Poet/Comedian/Asshole available.

He now resides in NYC pursuing all things fun and poetic. In the 6 months he has been in New York he has performed at several colleges, slammed Soundheim lyrics at Joe's Pub, improved with the Upright Citizen's Brigade, auditioned for Mad TV and can be found bartending at Bob Holman's latest venture, The Bowery Poetry Club.

In his spare time Shappy plays Scrabble with his super-hot girlfriend Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz, reads lots of comic books and dreams of one day owning a crime-solving wiener dog named Wallingford.

"Sha Clack Clack"
By Saul Williams

If I could find the spot where truth echoes
I would stand there and whisper memories of my children's future
I would let their future dwell in my past
so that I might live a brighter now
Now is the essence of my domain and it contains
all that was and will be
And I am as I was and will be because I am and always will be
that nigga
I am that nigga
I am that nigga
I am that timeless nigga that swings on pendulums like vines
through mines of booby trapped minds that are enslaved by time
I am the life that supersedes lifetimes, I am
It was me with serpentine hair and a timeless stare
that with immortal glare turned mortal fear into stone time capsules
They still exist as the walking dead, as I do
The original sulphurhead, symbol of life and matriarchy
severed head Medusa, I am
I am that nigga
I am that nigga!
I am that nigga!!
I am a negro! Yes negro, negro from "necro" meaning death
I overcame it so they named me after it
And I be spitting at death from behind
and putting "Kick Me" signs on it's back
because I am not the son of Sha-Clack-Clack
I am before that,
I am before
I am before before
Before death is eternity,
after death is eternity
There is no death there's only eternity
And I be riding on the wings of eternity
but my flight doesn't go undisturbed
Because time makes dreams defer
And all of my time fears are turning my days into daymares
And I live daymares reliving nightmares
of what taunted my past
Sha-Clack-Clack, time is beatin' my ass
And I be havin' dreams of chocolate covered watermelons
Filled with fried chickens like pinatas
With little pickaninny sons and daughters
standing up under them with big sticks and aluminum foil
Hittin' em, tryin' to catch pieces of fallin' fried chicken wings
And Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben are standing in the corners
with rifles pointed at the heads of the little children
"Don't shoot the children," I shout, "don't shoot the children!"
but they say it's too late
They've already been infected by time
But that shit is before my time
I need more time
I need more time
But it's too late
They start shooting at children and killing them!
One by one,
two by two,
three by three,
four by four
Five by five,
six by six, but
my spirit is growing seven by seven
Faster than the speed of light
Cause light only penetrates the darkness that's already there
and I'm already there
I'm here at the end of the road
which is the beginning of the road beyond time, but
where my niggaz at?

Oh shit, don't tell me my niggaz got lost in time
My niggaz are dying before their time
My niggaz are serving unjust time
My niggaz are dying because of.. time

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