The Story of The Paper Machete

First, the short story:

The Paper Machete happens every Saturday* at 3pm at the Horseshoe at 4115 N. Lincoln Ave. It is FREE, and shows usually run around 90 minutes with one break.

* Exact time & location may vary, so always check the latest show news & info post.

The next quick thing you need to know is we have a podcast. Click above on podcast to browse all entries or go here to find out all about subscribing.

Now, the juicy, longer story…

Piatt watches a show at Ricochet's

About The Paper Machete
Created and hosted by writer Christopher Piatt (pronounced like hot apple PIE-it) The Paper Machete is a free, weekly “live magazine” covering pop culture, current events and American manners. Part spoken-word show, part vaudeville revue, The Paper Machete features comedians, journalists, storytellers and musical guests performing in the back room of north side bar. It’s a salon in a saloon.

Background
When Piatt left his post as Time Out Chicago’s theater editor, he wanted to create a show that combined journalistic commentary with the kind of immediate cabaret performance found in his city’s storefront theater and comedy scenes. An alum of Kansas State University’s much-decorated speech team and an occasional public speaker around town, Piatt also hoped to build an incubator and showcase for his favorite craft: after-dinner speaking.

He knew that, in order to make such an event happen, it would have to be at a time when the city’s culture-makers aren’t already booked: Saturday afternoons. And he knew it would require the help of almost everybody he knew.

Paper Machete producers Christopher Piatt and Ali Weiss. Photo by Evan Hanover

One of Piatt’s early sounding boards and collaborators was Machete co-producer Ali Weiss, an ace writer-performer from the show’s first trial run. Ali is a New York City native with a background in theater as both a published playwright and performer. The kind of Chicagoan who scurries from teaching kids at The Second City to writing freelance articles to editing videos for all kinds of clients, Ali became a natural showbiz traffic-cop partner for Piatt’s bustling cabaret of multi-tasking, genre-juggling artists. Ali launched and currently produces the Machete’s podcast, produces Machete Special Events and does various other online things, while still producing some of the acts in the weekly show.

Managing Editor Anna WeberPhoto by Evan Hanover

The Paper Machete’s Managing Editor is the unstoppable Anna Weber. Christopher calls Anna the managing editor because he needs her to “make him do things.” Since joining the Machete team, Anna has not only wrangled Christopher as hoped but has begun booking bands, was key in our relocation to the Horseshoe, has brought in donations and audience, spearheaded our first-ever party, and finally made that sandwich board & posters we’d been all be talking about. Anna has her MA in Performance Studies from Northwestern, she’s an avid consumer of Chicago’s music and literary scenes, and she has been a freelance writer and costume designer.

Early Shows
The Paper Machete launched in January of 2010 to a packed house at Ricochet’s, marked by an inaugural address from the Machete’s Fairy Godfather, Dave Awl (who had given Piatt his first Chicago performance gig in The Partly Dave Show seven years earlier). With each subsequent show, more and more of Piatt’s colleagues from journalism, the arts and other various disciplines took to the microphone. The more steam and loyal following the Machete built, the more celebrated and emerging talent jumped at the chance to join the lineup.

Machete regulars Chad (puppeteered by Josh Zagoren) and musician Sad Brad Smith

Current Show and Podcast
The Paper Machete continues to bring a new bill of free citizen’s journalism every week. The show regularly features artists from Chicago’s major talent warehouses (iO, The Second City, Blewt!, the Neo-Futurists, the Factory Theater, the House Theatre) and the city’s still-breathing journalism outfits (the Tribune, the Chicago Reader, WBEZ, The Onion A.V. Club). Chi artists now working in New York and LA will often stop by the show on their way through town, and every week selections from the latest show and archives reach thousands via The Paper Machete podcast. In June 2011 The Chicago Reader named The Paper Machete “Best Comedy Variety Show of 2011.”

The Paper Machete is made possible in part by support by a grant from The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation. We also accept audience donations (we pass around a jar). To help keep the show weekly and free, you can make a tax-deductible donation to The Paper Machete through our non-profit fiscal sponsor, The Fractured Atlas.

The Paper Machete Logo designed by Mike Novak. All rights reserved.

Comments are closed.