Paul Nathan is doing a hilarious magic show for kids in Edinburgh Scotland Fringe. Below, I have a lot about who Paul is and why I like him and why you might like him also.
Paul Nathan was a mentor to me. If you ever wondered how people get into pancake juggling, it’s usually through a long line of friendships with weird people. Paul was one of those guys. He not only inspired me with stage presence and bold commitment to fringe behavior, he also generously gave me support in my salad days and encouraged me to push my limits.
In 2001, my new friend Chris Karney and I were producing the Visceral Variety Showcase — a wild comedy show in a wild bar in the Mission District of San Francisco. It was a mess, but because of our gusto and probably performers desire to play, we were able to book the top variety acts in San Francisco. Paul Nathan – famous magician – was one of them. Even though we were cocky youngsters, we still knew that we were in the presence of greatness. I remember Paul not caring at all about me.
Paul, at the same time was producing a real show in a big venue in town. It was Unkle Paul’s Dark Kabaret I called him and offered to help him in any way he wanted with his show. I think he told me he was sleeping and never called me back.
I went away and came back to town, saw Paul around and he started to recognize me a little bit. We would chat at parties and stuff, I would catch one of his shows once in a while. He wouldn’t catch mine. I helped him out with developing some promo and we started to kind of know who each other was.
I slept on the floor in his basement. It isn’t as bad as it sounds. I had slept on the street before. This was kind of nice. Oh, and I was in my early twenties, so I was able to talk some cute girls to stay with me sometimes. It was actually quite generous. I slept on Paul’s floor for two months paying no rent and going down to Fisherman’s Warf to make money doing street shows. If I was really broke, he would take me out for a meal. He still hadn’t seen me perform.
Work took me around the country again. When I came back, I produced my first one-man show. It was pretty terrible, but fun and when Paul saw how much work I was putting into promoting it, he said, “You know, I’m running a theater in SOMA and you could do your cooking show there on Tuesdays if you promote it and take care of the theater…” (I didn’t do a cooking show. I did a pancake show, but in the years that we were nearly friends, he still hadn’t seen me perform). I said, “Sure, great. I’ll be ready in a week and a half.” And CuliNery Tuesdays began.
That show was a mess. I was cooking in a theater, which is probably illegal for some reason. I was struggling with the concept of the show. Getting hurt for me was planned. Gosh. It was hectic. At that point, the great Paul Nathan got to see what I was doing. It wasn’t me in the best light, but he was glad I was exploring and learning and growing and sometimes doing stuff that was good and excited audiences. Paul encouraged me against his better judgement to continue my tuesday show for 6 months. I left for 4 months to go perform shows in Japan and returned with new money to rent his theater and do the cooking show right.
He promoted me, he housed me, he appeared on my show and we became close friends. Before all that he inspired me to work harder, be more professional, take more chances and explore what hasn’t been done.
Paul is arrogant, he’s quick and technically skilled. He’s funny, professional and adventurous. I admired how he would always be able to be very sweet to an old lady and cruel as heck to a rude drunk guy. He would charm a family, then shake their kid upside down for change. He could host a raunchy bondage show one night and the next day recite a zillion word script about how Deltitron Routers give you more bandwidth per millisecond due to synchronous buffer cross-splitting.
He’s putting all his lovable / hatable nature to good use in his new kids show production that’s great for adults too. The I Hate Children Children’s Show is happening in various venues around the world. Notably, Edinburgh in August. Go check it out if you get the chance and take your kids. I don’t think he really hates them.