A couple of months ago I wrote a post about feature work. For those of you who read my site, but do not know the terminology, the “feature” is the middle performer on comedy shows – a bridge from the introductory remarks of the emcee and the main event of the headliner. The bulk of the post concerned my feelings working in and observing the comedy business across America the last few years and how I feel that the changing business model of stand up comedy will in time, have a negative impact on the quality and growth of the art of stand up comedy. I made some forceful points, as I tend to because, although I love performing stand up comedy, I have little love for the business of stand up comedy. Agree or disagree with me I am doing it so I have a somewhat valid first person experience to draw on when I write complaints.
Well, on the post a man named “Bob Hellener” introduced himself to me – here was his first comment:
Have you stopped to think that perhaps you haven’t gotten very far because you’re not as funny as you think you are? There are plenty of comedians who’ve been doing comedy for much less than eight years who are setting the world on fire.
Now I approved his comment because, despite the lack of social graces in the first part I thought that maybe it was someone with a valid point to share and I did not want to censor dialogue in the name of saving face. What then occurred was a sad man who had no outlet for his own frustrations or jealousies and he began to pour forth comments and insults with increasing hostility, never able to actually provide support or evidence for any of his statements (he still has yet to name one inexperienced comedian “setting the world on fire,” one of a dozen unsubstantiated claims he made). Here is one of the key ones:
You have no idea who I am. But, for purposes of this discussion, that is of no importance. What’s truly sad, but in this case laughable, is that without changing your material one iota, you could be much more successful – artistically, financially, and by any criteria that you could want. But instead, because of your sanctimonious, holier than thou, arrogant attitude, you will unfortunately never be able to break out of the cellar of comedy. You clearly have a tremendous amount of time on your hands. It’s truly unfortunate that you spend it criticizing other, highly successful artists and attempting to dictate what kind of art they should produce, instead of improving your own. You could change your attitude, and be more successful, but you won’t. You know too much, but not enough. You are unteachable. You will be gone from the comedy scene within a year. And, quite honestly, that will be good riddance.
For a more complete idea of just how absurd this was refer to the link below:
As the weeks went on “Bob” continued to post comments on my blogs (including posts that were already a couple of weeks old) on things ranging from my shows to my weight – it was like arguing with a teenage girl with special needs. I then offered to meet “Bob” at a comedy show and allow him to perform to teach me the finer points of being a comedian (because you know a guy who anonymously posts on blogs certainly is brave enough to take some really exciting chances on stage). If he did not show up, however (and this was not an invitation to violence) I promised I would spam all his future comments. Well, he did not show up so I kept my word. But that did not stop “Bob” from posting comments on new and old posts. Here are some of his comments that never saw the light of day outside of my spam folder that he still insisted on posting:
“How dare you block my comments you coward!” – posted at 5:55 am on a Sunday
“Savor it because it will never happen again” – in response to my joy at having 5 great shows in Philly
I wracked my brain to figure out who it could be and most comedians kept coming up with the same name as to who Bob Hellener actually was: a mental patient named Dan Nainan.
THE CASE AGAINST DAN NAINAN
If you are a comedian in NYC or DC or a tech company with a terrible sense of humor you probably know the name Dan Nainan. He is a comedian who defines sour grapes. And for the purposes of this argument I will accept all that Dan says to be true about his comedy career. Dan is a successful corporate comedian who consistently gets paid very well by doing shows, the overwhelming majority of which appear to be for tech companies in Asia, which, as everyone knows, is a sector of the globe notorious for their sense of humor and advancement of comedy. The reason I am aware of Dan’s exploits is because he sends comedians that he deems have insulted or offended him occasional e-mails that brag about how much he is getting paid halfway around the world to do comedy. He is like a modern day Roman Polanski – forced into exile for raping Americans’ sense of humor.
Here are the two main topics he mentions, like a boilerplate document, in his e-mails:
- comedians in NY are fighting for cheap spots at cocaine-riddled comedy club
- He is living a life of luxury around the globe performing his comedy
But in a recent string of e-mails to a friend of mine he recently wrote too much. The words read too much like a comedy villain I was all too familiar with:
My bookings in Singapore and Malaysia last week, and Dubai, Hong Kong, Trinidad, Tobago earlier this year, and India, Japan, Aruba, Netherlands, South Africa and elsewhere, have all came about because of my YouTube and my Internet presence, not because of some chimp like Roger Paul or Jason Steinberg. Steinberg tried for a year to get me to sign with him – yeah right, pay him 15 percent of a $15,000 corporate show that he didn’t even get me, just so he can get me on Craig Ferguson. Please. (I was on Ferguson and Hellener kept trying to diminish it)
As I’ve mentioned, my YouTube video has gotten me booked all over the United States and the globe for high-paying shows. What do the TV credits get your friends? Hosting spots at Wisecrackers in Scranton, Pennsylvania? Unbelievable. (I’m featuring in Scranton in August and I have the aforementioned TV credit)
For every chump like you, there are many who contact me for advice – comedy has been fantastic to me and as a result I feel the obligation to give back. You can’t possibly imagine how many aspiring comedians I have helped. There’s so much you don’t know about this business that you could, but you and your buddies are so closed off and you think you know everything – you know too much but not enough – you are unteachable. Fine – less competition for me. (reads almost like a cut and paste job from the Hellener comment I posted above)
Given these quotes, among others, it is pretty damn obvious that Bob Hellener is actually Dan Nainan. Or there are two dumb, unfunny assholes separated at birth.
He has e-mailed many other comedians using different e-mails and I guess Bob Hellener is his newest. He signs off his e-mails “sent from my ridiculously overpriced iPad 2” – there are literally millions of teenage girls and Porsche drivers who are more secure about themselves than Dan Nainan. If you come off as insecure to a roomful of comedians there is something truly wrong with you. So with a guilty verdict of Dan Nainan I thought it appropriate for me to write him a victim impact statement. It will probably not affect his sentencing because he is already an exiled comedian in America, but here it is anyway:
Dear Dan Bob Hellener Nainan,
The last couple of months you have caused me a decent amount of frustration, first, with your inability to argue points coherently on my website because you simply had an agenda to eventually insult me and second, with your false identity. But now that we know who you are I feel it is necessary to tell you a few things.
Comedy is an art form first, and a business second. Every great comedian in America came up the tough way. From Lenny Bruce to Bill Cosby to Richard Pryor to Jerry Seinfeld to Chris Rock to Louis CK to Patrice O’Neal, they all did it a certain way. They hustled, struggled and fought their way up by simply becoming great comedians in the greatest comedy market in the world. America may not export as much today as it once did in many industries, but in comedy we are still king. The crucible of American comedy is not for the faint of heart. It is frustrating and disappointing. And I will say what you will inevitably say – I will probably not achieve the level of success I hope for. But at least I am trying and fighting. My ceiling is Chris Rock. It is lofty at best and completely delusional at worst. But you have already set your comedy ceiling at David Hasselhoff. You have fled to foreign markets (and markets not really known for their depth or wealth of humor) to avoid being a disappointed and unsuccessful loser. Because American comedy has already spit you out.
Perhaps you will claim to be a clean comedian and that has hurt you. Jerry Seinfeld was clean an he did alright.
Perhaps you will say the business is too bitter and jaded to accept someone who haters call a “hack.” Bill Engvall seems to be doing alright.
The truth is you are the worst thing a comedian can be – a coward – and no amount of money or filet mignon can change that. You anonymously write on blogs, you’ve told the same jokes your entire career (I may have some multi-racial humor in my set, but even in my first weeks of performing comedy in 2003 I knew not to write something as awful as your “I am Indian and Japanese, so I buy my sushi at 7-11” gem), and you brag to people who are financially less secure than you (assuming you tell the truth, which is sometimes hard to believe from someone with multiple Internet identities) to validate yourself for basically becoming a corporate lackey with Power Point instead of an artist.
Your comedy reminds me of the show Alf. I thought it was hysterical when I was young, but as I matured it turns out I no longer found it funny. And then as more time went on I realized I did not even think it was that funny when I was young. You have every excuse for why you are not embraced by the American comedy community but the two main ones are you are not funny and you are a terrible, possibly unstable, person. So continue to bring up gigs or tv spots as weapons against me and other comedians who are fighting the good fight. You wreak of sour grapes. People openly speak about your e-mail harassment of Eddie Brill (the Letterman booker) and of Marc Maron (the booker of the WTF podcast) so don’t act like you do not want to be part of, and embraced by, the comedy community. You just know that between your shitty routine and your cowardly form of bridge burning you never will be.
You may get paid well, you may have legions of fans in places where comedy is an afterthought and you may have the word comedian on every one of your YouTube videos, but you are no comedian. You are a coward. I will never mention you or your pseudonyms on anything I write ever again because I don’t want you to infect actual comedy fans as a result of something I do. You are someone with real mental problems beyond a lame sense of humor. Many comedians (in between bouts of laughter) have said that you have threatened them physically (from the safety of the Internet), you sent one comedian a video of you cutting a steak to prove how awesome your life is and you create false identities to criticize people. I’d be meaner in this post but even I can recognize when someone is too pathetic to insult.
But for everyone who is still curious about Dan I will post one more thing on his behalf. Below is the link for a mentorship/teaching offer he has for aspiring comedians. Turns out Dan subscribes to that old saying, “Those that can’t do, teach.”