The Paper Machete is a weekly “live magazine” that takes place every Saturday afternoon at the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge in Uptown. Put on free of charge to its audience, the show features comedic essays and character monologues based on the current headlines, written and performed by artists from the worlds of stand-up, sketch comedy, improv, theater, live lit, and journalism in addition to music and variety acts.
Originally mounted in the front of the dart boards in the back corner of Lincoln Square’s Ricochets Tavern in January of 2010, the series, co-founded by former Time Out theater editor Christopher Piatt and his cohort Ali Weiss Klingler, has since grown to showcase the city’s major burgeoning talents of every performance genre, as well a place where visiting comedians from New York and Los Angeles are known to stop by and hold court. In 2011, the series moved into the Horseshoe Tavern, and in 2012 it began its residency at the famed jazz nightspot, the Green Mill, legendary for its most infamous patron, Al Capone, as well as being the birthplace and home of the original Poetry Slam.
The Machete is inspired largely by the “Living Newspaper” plays produced by the WPA’s Federal Theater of the 1930s, with visible shades of vaudeville, the Chautauqua public lecture circuit, Harold Ross’s early, pre-serious New Yorker years, old-time radio, campus follies, political cabaret and community theater. Since its inception, it has served as a creative incubator for a broad and eclectic group of artists and voices from a wide variety of disciplines. Scores of the show’s alums work in television, film, theater, radio, journalism and other professional media forms. With a popular following fueled by word-of-mouth, the Machete regularly plays to packed houses of all ages.
In addition to its ever-rotating rosters, the Machete is also known as the home of Chad the Bird (the creation of writer-puppeteer Josh Zagoren), whose weekly installment as the show’s Avian Op-Ed Columnist is an audience favorite. A completely uncensored free-speech zone for its contributors, the show is also known for its experimental and provocative comedic content, and its association with dynamic, original voices.