This song is for Cole Stratton, who was quite literally the very first person I met when I moved to San Francisco in 1995. A day after I moved in, I went across the street to the video store and rented some movies. I came from a small desert town that had nothing in the way of good movie rentals... and I was really into movies. I had to special order and wait two weeks for Fire Walk With Me because I wanted to see it SO BAD. So, here I am in SF with a video store across the street and I was excited. I walked in and a guy behind the counter (Cole) said hi. I looked around like a kid in a candy store. This place was organized by director! There were obscure releases! A "Top 100 Movies of All Time" section! Employee suggestions! A HAND-DRAWN WHITEBOARD WITH UPCOMING RELEASES AND FANTASTIC ART RELATING TO EACH MOVIE! Clearly some movie nerds worked here. I may have well just won the lottery.
So needless to say, I was in there all the time and got to know this Cole guy behind the counter. He was responsible for the whiteboard. He had the BEST movie suggestions. I really tried to stump him a few times but he had a movie for any situation. Once I walked in the the video store with two Japanese exchange students and asked, "OK Cole, what would you recommend for one person who speaks English and two people who don't???" Without batting an eyelash, he said, "Mel Brooks Silent Movie." He was right. It was the perfect movie.
We lived in the same neighborhood, went to the same school, often ran into each other at movies and concerts. At some point, he invited me to see his sketch comedy group called Small Chicken. And that's when I realized holy crap, this guy is FUNNY. I've been a fan ever since. When he started a new sketch group with Janet Varney and David Owen (Dave also worked at the video store!), I designed their website. The design was basic and probably super cheezy, but I had high hopes for those guys and wanted to help any way I could. It wasn't long after that those crazy kids started the SF Sketch Fest which is now a premiere sketch comedy event pulling in amazing comics from all over the United States.
For example, how many awesome people can you fit into one photo? Front row: David Owen, Cole Stratton, Thomas Lennon. Middle row: Kerri Kenney-Silver, Jo Lo Truglio, Michael Patric Jann, Janet Varney, Michael Ian Black. Back row: Janeane Garofalo, David Wain, Robert Ben Garant, Tod Holoubekd, Kevin Allison, Ken Marino, Michael Showalter
He is a true talent and it has been a joy to watch him come up in the world- from the humble sketch shows performed in the college dorms, to tv, movies, comedy festivals and now his new Pop My Culture Podcast with Vanessa Ragland. So, ladies and gentlemen, if you don't know who Cole is, you do now. Check out the podcast and if you get the chance, go see one of his shows. You will not be disappointed!
Cole, thank you for years of friendship and laughter. Plus you are the only guy I know who is as excited about acapella covers as I am. (ahem)
Cole Stratton and Vanessa Ragland (and Cole and Vanessa and Cole and Cole...)