Reading is about more than following a narrative or learning facts; it can also be a profound shared experience that culminates in a better understanding of ourselves and each other. In that spirit, welcome to the Westword Book Club, a weekly feature celebrating the books that inspire Denver artists.
Comedian, writer, and first-name hoarder Ian Douglas Terry may hail from Nebraska, but by networking with and charming Denver's funniest mirth merchants, he has cultivated relationships here and, over the course of his frequent visits, he's managed to build a bridge between Denver and Omaha's fledgling comedy scenes. As the co-founder of Omaha's OK Party Comedy crew, Terry (also known as IDT) organized Crom Comedy Festival, which prominently featured Denver comics, and performed at the High Plains Comedy Festival in August. Westword caught up with IDT in advance of this week's Grawlix show to chat about young adult fiction, Denver comedy and being a nerd about dragons.
Westword: How did you get involved with the Denver comedy scene? What are your impressions as a visitor?
Ian Douglas Terry: My first interaction with the Denver scene was through the Fine Gentleman's Club; they were looking to book a tour and hit up OK Party -- the group of dudes I run with -- for a show in Omaha. They had to cancel that tour but we eventually ended up booking shows with them back and forth. Around that same time Zach Peterson from OK Party met Ben Roy while Ben was in Omaha and we started bringing the Grawlix boys out to Nebraska so we could learn from the best. I love Denver; I would move there in a second if it didn't mean having to step my game up to compete with the tons of awesome comedians you have. The Denver scene is what we've been using as a measuring stick for what we do in Omaha. Super cool and smart crowds, awesome and intelligent comedians who push each other in more positive ways, and a sense of community that I've rarely felt in the other cities I've been in. Plus, you guys have mountains and legal weed: the most righteous combo.
I sense a nerd bond between us. What is the nerdiest kind of book you like?
I absolutely love dragon-based fantasy novels. I grew up a Dungeons & Dragons nerd, but I didn't have any friends who played so I bought all the books dice, and metal figures and played by myself. Still not sure if that's sad or interesting. Any series that has dragons, I've more than likely read it. Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, The Black Company, Warhammer, and everything in between. I was one of the weirdos who read the Game of Thrones (or A Song of Ice & Fire if we're playing proper) books at the time they were being released. I just love dragons. I remember reading Lord of the Rings in the fifth grade and my teacher thinking I was a mutant. It is all my dad's fault; for the past twenty years he's been giving me any fantasy or sci-fi book after he's done reading it. Best father-son bonding ever.
What are you reading right now?
I've been dipping into the post-apocalyptic spectrum of fantasy novels. Lots of zombies and Mad Max-style stuff. The last two series I read, Patrick Ness's Chaos Walking and Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Mayberry, were young adult fiction. I felt like an idiot when I unknowingly bought them off of Amazon based on the plot synopsis without realizing they were teen focused, but they both ended up being great reads. Although I'm sure I'll hate them when they get adapted into movies with Paramore soundtracks. The book I'm reading right now is Dead Harvest by Chris Holm. Its a noir about demons and angels and a soul collector. It rules.
Do you have any childhood favorite books that you've re-read as an adult?
I recently went through great lengths to find a book I was obsessed with as a kid called Dragon Fall about a dude that builds dragon action figures with arms and legs that are the size of little kids. They come to life and try to kill him while his parents are out of town. It's his super short book where the first half is just this high school kid partying and going to concerts and then the last few chapters are just crazy violent. I forgot the name and author and had been trying to track it down based on Google searches. I finally did, and like all things we loved when we were younger, it disappointed me. Not as much as Alkaline Trio, but still pretty bad.
Which books have you most recommended to friends?
I've been recommending Game of Thrones a lot, just because people are going nuts for the show, but I'm also having a lot of fun knowing what's going to happen while other people lose their minds. One book that I think any fan of fantasy needs to read is Lord Foul's Bane by Stephen Donaldson. It is about a guy with leprosy who travels to a fantasy world where he is cured and has magic powers. It is brutal and sad and pretty heavy. Also read Mick Foley's Have a Nice Day, which is the best book about pro wrestling, ever. I'm a huge wrestling nerd, but that's a whole different conversation.
Are there any comedy books or autobiographies about comedians that were helpful to you as you were starting out?
I loved Russell Brand's first autobiography, My Booky Wook. A lot of people don't like him, but I think he's a genius who lost his way once he got all famous. I love Rik Mayall's book Bigger Than Hitler, Better Than Christ. The Young Ones were one of my earliest comedy inspirations and Rik was a god to me for a long time. Dude was Drop Dead Fred from the movie Drop Dead Fred.
It's been so long since I've seen that movie that I never put that together. Speaking of outgrowing things, is there a special author you associate with a particular time in your life, but now feel like you've outgrown? For example, Chuck Palahniuk in your late teens and early twenties.
I tried to get into Henry Rollins' weird poetry books when I was younger. He had a lot of sad, tortured things about unrequited love that resonated with young IDT. Now I care more about TV shows than I do about being emotional over babes.
Have you attempted to tackle any of the literary giants, your James Joyces, your Melvilles and Tolstoys, outside of school?
I've always just been a dragon book nerd. I never got into the literary classics or the cool, hip Bukowskis and whatnot. Sometimes I feel immense shame about the fact that I know more about orcs than I do Russian literature. Then I remember that orcs are cool, and I get over it. I'll get to the classics when I'm a classic old man.
In addition to performing at this month's Grawlix show on Friday, September 27, IDT will perform earlier Friday evening at the Voodoo Comedy Playhouse with Timmy Williams from The Whitest Kids U Know, Adam Cayton-Holland and Chris Charpentier.
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Follow Byron Graham on twitter @ByronFG for more mildly amusing sequences of words.