6 DUCK SALADS: A Cartoonists Lunch with Gus Van Sant.

Last month I was invited to have lunch with a bunch of New Yorker cartoonists and the film director, Gus Van Sant. Gus directed of some of the greatest films of the past 20 years: "Good Will Hunting", "Milk", "Drugstore Cowboy", and has just released another brilliant film about the cartoonist John Callahan, "Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far On Foot."

The invitation came from the Cartoon Editor of the New Yorker, Emma Allen, at our weekly Tuesday cartoon meeting. I was flattered to be asked, and to say the lunch was surreal is an understatement. I was more starstruck by some of the other cartoonists who showed up than I was by Gus!

The lunch took place at the decades-long traditional weekly 'cartoonists lunch' which usually takes place following the Tuesday cartoon meeting at the New Yorker. We shuffle up to Pergola Del Artistes in the Theatre District and talk shop over duck salad and cheap red wine.

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6 of us ordered the gigantic duck salad and noshed away as Sam Gross held court, telling stories of his experience with Callahan and with other New Yorker cartoonists. Gossip and scandal aplenty! At one point I scribbled a quick portrait of Sam on the tablecloth and pitched a gag caption for one of his cartoons to a tableful of eye-rolls. Emma wrote up the goings-on at the lunch in this week's New Yorker in the "Talk of The Town" section.



Today's New Yorker Daily Cartoon: See what he's said now...

© Copyright Jason Chatfield

Last October I landed in Manchester after a 9-hour flight that took what felt like a week. When we boarded, the President had levelled a characteristically pompous threat across the Pacific, telling the so-called "Rocket Man" he had better watch himself. Rocket Man was not happy.

As the passengers all woke from our nervous slumber, the flight attendant's Northern accent honked over the speaker, "For your safety and comfort, please remain seated with your seatbelt fastened until the Captain turns off the Fasten Seat Belt sign. This will indicate that we have parked at the gate and that it is safe for you to move about."

She then continued, "Cellular phones may only be used once the Fasten Seat Belt sign has been turned off."

The seatbelt light extinguished with a polite Bong!

Like ravenous greyhounds launching after a hare, everyone swung out their smartphones and desperately took them out of Airplane Mode, opening Twitter en masse to see if the stable genius in chief had doomed us all...

I don't remember a flight I've been on in the last 10 years where the symphony of notification sounds didn't immediately penetrate the whirring of the winding down engines.

And don't get me started on clapping when the plane lands...

 

See more of my New Yorker Cartoons on their website at: 
https://www.newyorker.com/contributors/jason-chatfield

On The Road Again

I got an email from my Agent telling me this last weekend I was to be heading back to Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey to host 4 shows at Bananas Comedy Club.  It's a well-run club but it's a little out of the way. Not to worry. It's a good thing I like buses. and people from New Jersey...


That Friday, I had lunch with my friend Tom Gammill before we went into Esquire Magazine to pitch to the new Cartoon & Humour Editor, Bob Mankoff. It was an odd meeting, but then nothing Tom and I end up doing together isn't odd. We had one last wine at Columbus Circle to plan our pitching strategy going forward before we both lurched forth into the cool breeze and parted ways.

I was headed to the home of infinite joy and wondrous smells (The Port Authority Bus Terminal) when fellow comic, Anthony LeDonne texted to say he was within beer distance so I stopped in at the Smith on the Upper West Side to brace myself for the onslaught, before jogging downtown through peak hour sidewalk-dawdlers to board the happiest vessel on Earth: The #163 to Hasbrouck Heights.

I was the last to board, so I was squeezed snuggly between a tattooed gentleman in a tank top and a septuagenarian with a scorching case of halitosis. 

 


The trip lasted about an hour longer than anticipated on account of a car accident on the highway. Everyone seemed to have a cold of some kind, so it was like a symphony of sneezes and snorts the whole way there. Bless.

Upon arrival, I checked in with the booker and got my meal voucher before trying out the new seasonal "Pumpkin Martini". A warning: Never ever do that. Ever. It was repulsive. I would have rather eaten a soggy clump of Autumn leaves.

 


I met the feature, Sean Morton, at the bar. A hilarious comic who will be headlining the Borgata for all of Thanksgiving week. He had to change his shirt after each of the 4 shows as the lights on the stage were so blisteringly hot he sweated out my entire body weight in water.

 



The headliner, SNL's newest cast member, Chris Redd was insanely funny. Out of Chicago, he had a Second City improv background, which really showed when he went to crowd work. Masterful stuff. He even managed to dig himself out of an anti-Trump chunk in a crowd of vocal Donald Devotées. Quite the sight to behold.

I snuck back into New York on Saturday for a cheeky lunch with le wife before galloping back to the Heights for the final 2 shows on Saturday night. It was great fun hosting -this time I was way more successful than last time, so I came away with my head held high, instead of slumped like a schlub with a herniated disk.

Before jumping on the bus Sunday morning I stopped in at my least favourite diner in America -Fisher's Restaurant for a dose of good old American cholesterol. i got the American Flag pancakes, which were topped with Strawberries (Red), Cream (white) and Blueberries (Blue.) Doesn't get more patriotic than that...



On the F-train home, I looked up and saw a guy who was on my train on Friday. he reminded me of the guy in Half-life who walks around mysteriouslyfor the whole game. He creeped me out.


 

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2017 San Diego Comic Con Sketchbook

 

San Diego Comic Con International is a relentless 4-day cavalcade of Cosplay, comic fans and crazy critters. I always take as many photos as I can and sketch from them after the fact. I was drawing people all 4 days at the NCS booth, caricaturing people as their favourite comic characters and superheroes.

Here are a few snippets at the insanity...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This guy was waiting in line behind me.
He didn't blink one time. Not one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Botched Audition, A Hand Dryer & The Hunt for Piña Colada mix.

Friday, 10th June 2017

 

Dear Diary,

This morning I awoke with a throbbing frontal lobe, the after-effects of an extended evening of copious imbibement at The Boathouse with my pal, Anthony. I cursed the glorious sunshine streaming through the windows as I limped to the bathroom. My right heel is still riddled with plantar fasciitis, so I now resemble my 97 year-old grandfather when I first wake.

I had to shower, badly, but not before re-recording a voice audition for a TV commercial for Paul McCartney's Australian tour. I sounded a bit scratchy, but they asked for 'a bit more gravely' so I think I pulled it off -and in my pyjamas no less!

Post-ablution, I wandered down to Remedy Diner where my dear pal Ethan Hall was sitting in a booth, scrawling madly in his journal (No doubt about how late I was to our weekly 12pm Friday coffee date we've held for the last 2 years and counting.) I had texted him while I was walking, asking if he could order my usual, but with a side of sausages.

He texted back, "What's your usual, Sweet Yoghurt?"
I replied, "I told you not to call me that."

I'm the funniest guy.

I sat to find he'd ordered precisely what I usually get, but with a side of sausages. If I could marry this man, I would. But sadly, I'm already taken. And I'm sure same-sex marriage will be outlawed by Thursday if Trump/Putin has his/her way.

We discussed mostly politics, as is our usual agenda. I'd met the head of PR for the Hilary 2016 Campaign the night before and had some fun stories to regale him with. We both admitted we'd been listening to Sam Harris' The Path To Impeachment episode of Waking Up, for comfort.

The Comey hearings had held the nation captive the day before, and we'd both watched in anticipation of some definitive articles of impeachment. No dice. 
Speaking of dicey, I ate all of my sausages. Immediate regret consumed me, and my digestive tract.

We meandered back towards our neighbouring apartments on 3rd street, taking in the sun and the accompanying smell of ripe dogshit. Summer in New York is a wild symphony of stenches.

I realised I'd left little time to do anything else but panic, as I was running late to head to the depths of Brooklyn to record the Let's Talk About Sets podcast with Jeff McBride and Harrison Tweed.
I drew their podcast artwork.

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At the conclusion of the 1.5 hour recording, Jeff hit the 'save' button only to be met with a frozen laptop screen. His face mimicked the screen, frozen in an expression I can only describe as sheer terror, as he waited for the progress bar to move past 4%...

After what felt like the length of an entire Comey hearing, the progress bar kicked back into gear and saved the episode. Jeff, however, had shaved years off his life from stress. The giant vein on his temple was still throbbing, adding an extra 2 inches to the circumference of his skull.

With the poor fella now 1 part relieved, 2 parts pure cortisol, we shared a car back across the bridge to Manhattan while I learned my sides for a commercial audition.

We hit traffic on the FDR, leading to me now taking over as the stressed-out, vein throbbing sweat gland with a face. The audition was in the Financial District, but this car was headed up to the East Village, and Lyft being Lyft, I wasn't able to change the final destination.

Jeff jumped out at my apartment and started walking the wrong way down 3rd street. He reappeared moments later with a gunshot wound to his leg, realising he had ventured towards Avenue D instead of Avenue C. It happens.

I asked my Lyft driver if I could request a job and see if he could accept it, with me standing right by the car. He said he didn't think so.
(Isn't technology marvelous.)

So I just flagged down a passing cab and hurtled South back down the FDR towards Wall street.

I checked in for the audition and filled out my particulars. A small Asian woman pulled me aside, pushed me against a wall and took my photo with the flash less than 10cm from my face. Now permanently blind, I wandered into the audition room.

The director was reclined on the couch. He'd had a day, and I was between him and happy hour. Perfect conditions for success.

"Just be yourself." he said. "But, you know, be the character we wrote."
"Oh... yeah, of course. Totally." I nodded, not understanding what the hell that meant.
"I mean, don't Act, but when we say action, act out the things we wrote."
"Got it." I said, confidently.
"And... Whenever you're ready."

"Sorry." I stopped. "I just - one thing before I.."
"Yeah." He said, annoyed.
"I'm Australian. Do you want me to do it as me, or me as an American?"
"You." He said.

"Okay. So, okay. Good."

He paused. Sighed deeply then said, "Aaaand... whenever you're ready."

I took my time reading the sides, attempting to memorise them on the fly.
I stared down the barrel and said,"Hi." being careful not to act.
"I'm Guy, and I... hate soda."

"Okay, stop." The director interjected.
"That was a little too "Big". You know?"
"Oh, yeah. Totally." I said. Not knowing what the fuck he meant.
"Just, do it again, but not so "Big."
"Okay.   Cool."

"Aaand... whenever you're ready."

I took a breath. Sat down and looked at the camera, then at the cup sitting next to me. Then back at the camera.


"Hi." I said, less Big, "I'm Guy, and I hate Soda."
"Okay, we're good. Thank you for coming in."
"We're done?" I asked. "I can do it differently if you want?"
"No, we're good. Thank you." he said, anxiously wringing his wiry grey beard and adjusting his transitions lenses. "Have a nice night."

I walked out, realising I'd blown $14.13 on a cab to come and look like a gormless moron in front of a frustrated director who certainly didn't envision his career directing soda commercials. I needed a drink.

Luckily for me, my trusty companion, Sophie, was just finishing work and also in need of some refreshment. 
"Drink?"
Almost immediately, she texted back, "See you at the Ludlow Hotel. 30 minutes."

I zipped up to the Ludlow on the packed, terminally delayed subway and arrived 45 minutes later. Sophie still hadn't appeared, so I ordered a Negroni and a Gin, betting both ways on what she'd want.

She arrived and ordered a gin martini. 

After a couple of rounds, I said it was probably time I went home and showered before running out to do my 8:30pm spot at Dangerfields. I was wearing a hat, you see, and had chronic hat hair. I looked like I'd stuck my head in a food processor.

We closed out our tab and made our way toward home. On the way, I mentioned I needed a coffee to perk me up before my 8:30pm show at Dangerfields Comedy Club. We were just passing Yerba Buena on Avenue A when Sophie said, "Oh! We can just go in here. They have coffee."

We walked through the door to find a bar full of gentleman who had enjoyed a few too many happy hour lemonades, waxing lyrical about the wonders of green energy and the evils of high fructose corn syrup. Between our ordering two espressos and receiving them, the German man at the end of the bar had begun a TED Talk-style lecture on American organic food and how the FDA is the devil.

The stress of the situation led us to exit the building and immediately push the door open to 2A; the bar next door, to wash away the crazy with a whiskey.

As we sat, swilling the devils drink, a lanky old man sat behind us at the window, listening intently to his walkman and downing copious amounts of booze. He looked like he was made of wind and sinew.

At this point, time was creeping up on me and I didn't think I'd have time to get home, shower and get back out to head up to 61st street for my Dangerfields spot. Sophie said, "Why don't you just use the bathroom here to wet your hair, dry it, and style it using the product that's already in there!"

"Genius!" said the whiskey.
I jumped up and headed to the bathroom as Sophie ordered us another round.

I turned on the moldy old tap and shoved my birds-nest of a head under the water to soak it, before turning on the hand-dryer and attempting to find an angle where I could get my head under it without breaking my neck. I cupped my hands to redirect the hot air towards my hair, like some kind of Macgyver pro hairdresser.
I styled it with my hands and strolled out of the bathroom feeling like I'd gamed the system.


I knocked back one more whiskey before whistling for a cab and zooming North towards the club.

I walked in to the club with 10 minutes to spare, fist bumped the owner and was immediately asked by Chario, the waiter who'd been working there for 47 years (not making that up), to come and help him carry a bunch of bottles of piña colada mix from up the block back to the club.

 

We went searching up and down the Manhattan streets for a liquor store that would stock piña colada mix, but to no avail. Chario grumbled about how much the neighbourhood had changed, and finally settled on buying one bottle from a random store before marching back in to the club, plopping the bottle on the bar and saying "There. Thassit. Thass all they got!"

I then put down my bag and walked on stage to do a 20 minute set to the Friday crowd that consisted mainly of people who had got lost coming in from Jersey. I did fine, but then Patty Rosborough arrived and showed us all how it was done. A masterful set to watch at the oldest comedy club in the world.

It was then that I was informed by one of the waiters that the entire time I'd been on stage, I'd been sporting a gigantic birds nest on the back of my head, courtesy the blowdryer at 2A.  

 

'til next time,

 

Jason.