Jordan Stratton or something you find in dirty diaper. We aren't sure.

Jordan Stratton

Jordan is a staff writer and Social Media Manager for The Dad and also leads The Dad Rocket League...League for The Dad Gaming. He eats an unhealthy amount of cereal, spends an irrational amount of time on the internet, and would be delighted if you followed him on Twitter.

The Dad Of The Month, March 2021: Chris Norton

(Photos courtesy of Chris Norton)

We are honored to announce The Dad of the Month for March 2021: Chris Norton. Even able-bodied men recognize that fatherhood is not for the faint of heart, so it’s inspiring to see someone accept the challenge (and wildly succeed at it) while confined to a wheelchair. At 28, Chris—along with his wife, Emily—is a parent to five adoptive daughters and has cared for over a dozen foster children. His friend and colleague Jodi Philip wrote a wonderful nomination entry for Chris that is sure to blow you away:

“Chris Norton might be one of the most grateful dads you will ever meet. I work with him and have been blown away (along with the numerous people inspired by his story) at his positive attitude. At 18, Chris was paralyzed playing college football. Doctors told him he would likely never walk again. But, he believed that he would and he worked really hard in physical therapy. Years later, he walked across his college graduation stage with his fiance. Then they walked seven yards together down the aisle of their wedding. This is Chris – believing in the good – even if it happens step by step.

“That same determined, positive spirit is what led Chris into fatherhood. His wife has always been interested in foster care, but they weren’t expecting to be parents at such a young age. One day they got a call about a teenage girl they knew who needed help and a place to go immediately, and they said yes to being her foster parents. And Chris and his wife said yes again when they got a call about a sibling set of four sisters. At age 28, Chris is dad to five adopted daughters and the couple has provided foster care for a total of 18 children. When other people say, ‘Nope, I couldn’t do it.’ Chris finds a way.

“Just as he relearned to walk – over time and one step at a time – he and his wife are building their family in the same way. Chris often says that his accident helps him better relate to their kids as he understands what it is like to be in a place that you didn’t expect.

“His favorite part of the day is the time he gets to spend with his kids before and during dinner. They have a tradition of pausing all the homework, chores, and work and going outside to just be together and play. Then, they come in and crowd around the table for dinner and each shares the best part of their day. Chris says it’s simply the best to experience fatherhood with kids who are eager to give and receive love.

“Apart from being a dad, Chris is a speaker, author, and entrepreneur. He started a foundation to help others with spinal cord and neuromuscular injuries and runs a free wheelchair camp for youth and their families. His story is profiled in the new documentary, ‘7 Yards: The Chris Norton Story,’ on Apple TV and Prime Video.”

To honor Chris and his inspirational work as a husband, father, and member of his community, we’re giving him $500 and some special edition dad gear. Chris exemplifies the amazing power of positivity, reminding us that we all have the tenacity to get through anything life throws our way if we’re only willing to utilize it. Cheers!

Click here to read more or nominate a special dad in your life.

The Dad Of The Month, February 2021: David Funk

We are honored to announce The Dad of the Month for February 2021: David Funk. Becoming a first-time father is difficult enough for anyone, but few new dads have been put through the wringer like David. His wife, Lindsey, wrote a beautiful nomination entry for him, illustrating how David repeatedly goes above and beyond for his growing family:

“David is simply incredible. In January 2020, we found out our unborn son would most likely not live post-birth. No one with his diagnosis has survived in Utah before. Well, our son Otto was born in March 2020 and LIVED.

“I, the mom, was under anesthesia for the birth surgery to get Otto here so David had to take care of EVERYTHING while I was asleep and sedated for the next 5 days. He had to run to the NICU right after surgery and he has been there for Otto EVERY DAY of our 200-day NICU stay. He dedicated all his time outside of working to visiting our miracle baby in the NICU.

“We just got home from the NICU in October 2020. Our son is dependent on a ventilator and a tracheotomy tube, g-tube for feeding, and oxygen support. He has a lot of care necessary to survive and David never skips a beat to help Otto. Because of the pandemic, we have had to stay home as our child has lung disease. David does such a good job taking it on himself to make sure Otto’s life at home is fun and entertaining for our miracle. David loves to cuddle with Otto and pinch his chubby cheeks.

“David knows how to do ALL of Otto’s medical care, which is impressive for any father as he has so many other things to do to support our family so I can stay home and take care of Otto during the day. David is involved in all of Otto’s physical, occupational, feeding, and speech therapy – not to mention this is our first child. David had not even changed ONE diaper before Otto.

“David was born to be the father of our son. A lot of time the mom, me, gets a lot of recognition for what I’ve done for Otto, but David never gets it. I would love to see him recognized for all he does for our little son Otto.”

To honor David as well as the tireless and selfless work of keeping little Otto happy and healthy, we’re giving him $500 and some special edition dad gear. David is an awesome example of what it means to be an amazing dad right out of the gate and regardless of the circumstances. Cheers!

The Dad Of The Month, January 2021: Bryan Kutz

We are honored to announce The Dad of the Month for January 2021: Bryan Kutz. While already an exemplary father, Bryan has recently stepped up even further to care for his extended family after the death of his father-in-law. His wife, Megan, wrote a wonderful nomination entry for Bryan that celebrates the tireless work of her husband and celebrates her late father:

“On December 23rd, 2020, my dad died. We are still deeply in the grieving process. But losing my dad has made me see my husband in a different light. I’ve always known that my husband Bryan is an exemplary man but seeing him take care of our three kids and me during this awful time just reinforces what a selfless guy he is.

“In addition to the TLC that he’s shown me throughout this, he has also made sure my mom has everything she needs and wants. He uses his very little time off to fix her garage door, make her meals, fix her computer issues and deal with many of the logistical items that happen when someone has died. We still have a long road to healing but I see him caring for his family with such tenderness that I am encouraged and thankful that he is ours.

“He shows our kids how to love during the hard times when things are messy and sad. One day when our kids are older and have children of their own, they will have had the privilege of many years with an incredible dad to draw knowledge from when dealing with the good and bad times that will surely come with their own families. I wrote this to honor my husband, Bryan Kutz, and in memory of my dad, Neil Andersen.”

To honor Bryan and all he has done to be a foundation for his family during such a grief-filled time, we’re giving him $500 and some special edition dad gear. Bryan is a great example of what it means to be a leader and source of strength for the family he loves. Cheers!

Click here to read more or nominate a special dad in your life.

The Dad Of The Month, December 2020: Paul LeBlanc

(Photos courtesy of Grace LeBlanc)

We are honored to announce The Dad of the Month for December 2020: Paul LeBlanc. Despite his job being eliminated, Paul spent 2020 being a rock steady support to his wife, raising two kids, and welcoming a new baby into the family. His wife, Grace, wrote a wonderful nomination entry, gushing over how thankful their family is to have Paul in their lives:

“My husband totally deserves to be The Dad of the Month. He wins every month in our house.

“When I met Paul, he had a 4-year-old daughter from a previous relationship. One of the things that helped cement that he was ‘the one’ for me was what a great dad he is.

“For the first 6 months, we only went out on dates on weeknights so he didn’t miss time with his daughter. He talked about her constantly and when I eventually did see the two of them together it was obvious how much she adored him right back.

“Since then Paul and I have gotten married and have had two kids of our own, we’ve had some setbacks. Because I was pregnant when Covid-19 first hit, he was advised to stay home from work to reduce his risk. While he was home on FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) his job was eliminated. Since I’m a stay at home mom that left us with 3 kids and no income.

“It’s been a rough 7 months since our son was born and there have been lots of times when I didn’t know how we would survive. Paul has been a rock for the family, always reminding me that we would figure it out and I feel so grateful that my son has never known life without his dad home 24 hours a day.

“He wakes up and cooks eggs for our 2-year-old, helps our 8-year-old with remote learning, and is always doing projects around the house with free Facebook marketplace finds. He even mows the lawn with a baby on his back!

“He’s going back to work next week and I’d love to honor him as The Dad of the Month to let him know how much he means to me and our kids. He is genuinely the most hopeful and determined man I know. He has shown our kids that family is the most important thing in the world, that every problem has a solution, and that sometimes all you need after a hard day is a hug from someone you love.”

When Paul found out he was The Dad of the Month for December, he humbly reminded us what being a father is all about:

“Being a dad is one thing I’ve always wanted my entire life and having a wonderful, supportive wife and three amazing kids has brought me so much joy and fulfillment. I know [even] with all of life’s ups and downs, I will always have my family by my side and I will always do whatever it takes to support them.”

To honor Paul and all he has done despite such a brutally difficult year, we’re giving him $500 and some special edition dad gear. Paul is a great example of what it means to be a rock-solid foundation for a family and to face hardships head-on. Cheers!

Click here to read more or nominate a special dad in your life.

The Dad Of The Month, November 2020: John Kay

(Photos courtesy of Heather Kay)

We are honored to announce The Dad of the Month for November 2020: John Kay. Since becoming a dad, John has exhibited a tangible excitement for fatherhood and a willingness to go above and beyond, even during a worldwide pandemic. His wife, Heather, couldn’t help gushing about him in her nomination:

“A good dad is hard to come by – John is the glue that holds it all together. He’s a one-of-a-kind dad. He was born for this. He embodies what every young boy needs in a father.

“We have a 2.5-year-old son named Hudson, who, thanks to his Dada, knows how to use mustard as a binder for meats when they BBQ on the Traeger. Hudson loves to read along to the book ‘Your Baby’s First Word Will Be Dada’ by Jimmy Fallon thanks to John’s wonderful impressions of animals! (Hudson’s dad also does a very good impression of Grover from Sesame Street.)

“John has worked throughout the pandemic. He manages transportation services and has been essential on the front lines, ensuring the public gets the goods they need. He comes home every day to help around the house, help with dinner, or pick up anything that’s needed. He volunteers to bathe our son every night and read him goodnight stories.

“He’s also a wrestling coach for a local high school and has taught our young son how to wrestle – he’s very good at it! The day we brought Hudson home from the hospital, John put pool noodles around every single hard surface in our home to make sure our new baby was totally safe! Looking back, it’s funny because now they wrestle and play WWE all the time!

“John has taken Hudson to every sporting event (pre-covid) and has also waited in lines for VIP meet and greets so that our son can meet famous hockey and baseball players! He’s is a wonderful dad and does it all with a smile on his face. He’s an excellent role model for our son and I am forever grateful that Hudson gets to have such an awesome father like John!”

To honor John and exuberance for fatherhood despite an incredibly difficult year, we’re giving him $500 and some special edition dad gear. John’s unfailing optimism, creativity, and excitement for life are exceptional attributes that we should all strive for. Cheers!

Click here to read more or nominate a special dad in your life.

The Dad Of The Month, October 2020: Steve Braun

(Photos courtesy of Tori A. Emerick Braun)

We are honored to announce The Dad of the Month for October 2020: Steve Braun. Over the years, Steve has shown that he’s not only an all-star dad who wants his kids to experience all the fun life has to offer, but that he’s ready and willing to dig deep and do the real work when life gets hard. Here’s what his friend John wrote for his nomination:

“Nobody embraces or deserves the title of dad like Steve. His kids mean everything to him and it shows, as he’s constantly teaching them something new.

“Steve is a father of 4 that never stops doing for his family. In the summer it’s every imaginable outdoor activity like sailing, camping, swimming, or as simple as teaching them how to fix things like cars or household repairs. Then in the winter, it’s running his kids all over for hockey games and practices, but not to just watch. He’s also the coach, trainer, or referee. Somehow he manages to cram snowmobile rides in there too.

“Then 2 years ago, everything changed when his youngest son was diagnosed with retinoblastoma which in simple terms is eye cancer. Steve doesn’t miss a single appointment whether it be for a checkup or an in-depth revolutionary new surgery created strictly for his son Zayne. The expense incurred and the time spent in hospitals is quite vast. Steve always looks ahead at the future and how much Zayne will be able to do instead of looking at any limitations brought on by the surgeries, or the fact that through this battle, Zayne has already lost one eye.

“No matter what Steve is doing or where he is going, he loves having his kids with him to share in every experience.”

To honor Steve and his tireless endeavors to be the best dad he can be, we’re giving him $500 and some special edition dad gear. Steve’s thirst for adventure, excitement for life, and steadfast dedication to his family are admirable characteristics that we should all strive for. Cheers!

Click here to read more or nominate a special dad in your life.

The Dad Of The Month, September 2020: Robert Bailey

(Photos courtesy of Robert Bailey)

We are honored to announce The Dad of the Month for September 2020: Robert Bailey. We recently featured Robert in our “Dadding While ____” series because he’s facing one of the most harrowing of circumstances—raising his 2-year-old son and being a good husband, all while living with terminal cancer.

“I know my son is probably not going to remember me. He’s kind of young,” Robert states in the interview about his son, Parker. “I’m just trying to find things to leave that tell him who I was… who I am.”

Robert and his wife, Debbie, couldn’t have kids naturally but finally got to be parents when they adopted Parker. Tragically, Robert’s health began to decline rapidly just as they were finishing the adoption process.

(Photos courtesy of Robert Bailey)

“It’s like, I get this miracle that I never thought would happen, and then a couple of months later, I find out I have inoperable cancer.”

Despite his dire prognosis, Robert continues to do what he can to leave a legacy for his little boy. In fact, he’s currently working with local Nashville musicians to record a song and writing a book about his life story, all in hopes of encompassing who he is and everything he loves about being a father to his son.

“It’s definitely not my choice to leave [my son] alone in this world without a dad … I love him. I love him with every fiber of my being. Losing this battle is going to be very difficult because of him.”

(Photos courtesy of Robert Bailey)

To honor Robert and his fearless commitment to family and fatherhood, we’re giving him $500 and some special edition dad gear. Robert’s dedication and celebration of life is a true inspiration—one that reminds us all to hug the ones we love a little bit tighter, whenever we can.

You will always be a part of this Dad community, Robert. Cheers.


(Robert’s GoFundMe is no longer active due to a time limit for campaigns, but funds can still be donated. His Venmo is @RBailey77 and paypal is [email protected])

Click here to read more or nominate a special dad in your life.

 

‘Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit’ Features Real RC Karts on Virtual Tracks

Promotional art for Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch
(Nintendo)

Nintendo surprised everyone today with the exciting announcement of the newest Mario Kart game, and we just about guarantee it’s not the title you expected. Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit is an augmented reality version of the fan-favorite kart racer that requires players to drive actual remote-controlled, Nintendo-themed cars around a virtual track designed around the physical world.

The RC karts—each armed with a front-facing camera—are controlled via Switch and the virtual racetracks are displayed on the console’s screen. According to Nintendo, your RC kart’s performance is dependent on the virtual race world.

“The physical kart responds to boosts in-game and in the real world, stops when hit with an item, and can be affected in different ways depending on the race. Players place gates to create a custom course layout in their home, where the only limit is their imagination. Race against Koopalings in Grand Prix, unlock a variety of course customizations and costumes for Mario or Luigi, and play with up to four players in local multiplayer mode.”

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit is set to release on October 16th for $99.99, with Mario and Luigi versions available at launch.

Sure, the price feels a little steep considering you’ll need “additional games, systems, and karts” to play multiplayer, but what other Mario Kart title offers limitless racetrack options and something for you to trip over in the middle of the night?

(Nintendo)

The Dad Of The Month, August 2020: Mark Paris

(Photos courtesy of Emily Paris)

We are honored to announce The Dad of the Month for August 2020: Mark Paris. Despite being faced with serious health issues, Mark has remained a dedicated dad who always puts his family before himself. He was nominated by his daughter, Emily, who couldn’t say enough good things about her papa:

“My dad is the type of dad that continues to work and build and tinker even after retirement (yes, his first retirement project was to build a deck in our backyard, of course). He always needs to be working, thinking, and creating. About a month before I was scheduled to move into my college dorm, my dad was diagnosed with diabetes. Shortly after, he learned that he had stage-four melanoma, as well. While still adjusting to a new diet to regain control over his blood sugar, he needed emergency surgery to remove all the cancerous lymph nodes under his right arm.

“It was a terrifying time for both of us–he was preparing for the worst while I was worried about leaving my dad in poor health, especially since his line of work relies on his physical capabilities. I still remember a few days before his surgery we went kayaking (an activity I grew up doing a lot with him), not knowing if it was the last time we would get to go together. We were both secretly terrified, but he never let me see the side of him that was scared.

“My dad deserves to be ‘Dad of the Month’ because being a dad is the very reason he is still here today. After his surgery, he drove a painstaking 10+ hours with a drain bag attached to his incision site to move me into my dorm. It has always been his dream for me to go to college and wouldn’t have missed it for the world. He always reminded me that no matter what happened to him, I needed to promise I would finish my degree.

“Even though my dad was going through a lot, he never failed to be available and supportive during my educational journey. Not only is he an active person, but he’s also one of those dads that falls asleep at 6 PM and wakes up at 2 PM. There were too many nights to count when I would call him at 5 AM crying about the half-finished essay that was due at 9 AM that day. He was and is ALWAYS there for me. He would get all kinds of interesting, random jobs to help support me financially through school as well, even though he was in no state to be exerting himself to the level he was. One time my grandma sent me a picture of him cutting dead branches out of the 30-foot pine tree in her backyard. What a guy, honestly.

“Long story short, it is because of my dad that I graduated from college and am now going on to pursue my PhD. He’s my biggest supporter, my rock, and my role model. There’s no one else in this world that could persist through the challenges he has faced with the same smile on his face and capacity to put others before himself. I love you, papa!”

To honor Mark and his fearless commitment to family, we’re giving him $500 and some special edition dad gear. Mark’s tenacity, excitement for life, and refusal to let health issues hinder him from being the best dad he can be are admirable characteristics that we should all strive for. Cheers!

Click here to read more or nominate a special dad in your life.

Ready to Face the Music With Bill & Ted: A Conversation With Alex Winter

Alex Winter headshot with Bill & Ted Face the Music Poster
(Getty / Paul Warner & United Artists Releasing)

Bill & Ted Face the Music, the highly anticipated conclusion to the totally awesome time-traveling trilogy, releases today – a whopping 31 years after audiences initially fell in love with Excellent Adventure. The cult classic series already has an army of fans behind it but this installment is even more near and dear to The Dad’s collective heart due to the fact that both members of the Wyld Stallyns are now portrayed as a couple of bodacious dads.

The stakes are even higher for William “Bill” S. Preston Esq. and Theodore “Ted” Logan this time around, too. Their rock and roll destiny has yet to be fulfilled and now the fate of all space and time is hanging in the balance. Given a meager 77 minutes and 25 seconds to write the song that will finally unify the entire world in peace and harmony, Bill and Ted will require the help of their teenage daughters and a few of history’s biggest music legends to come out on top yet again.

In order to get a behind-the-scenes peek at Face the Music, The Dad sat down with Alex Winter, who not only portrays Bill in the films, but is a father-of-three in his own right.


(United Artists Releasing)

Jordan: What was it about Bill and Ted that enamored audiences back in 1989 and then how does Face the Music recapture that magic 31 years later?

Alex: I think that people really responded to this notion of these super close friends and the kind of imaginative world that they lived in, and then the realization of that world. I think the writers, Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon, write really great dialogue. It is not what you would expect to come out of the mouths of valley teenagers.

I know that when we auditioned for it, it felt very idiosyncratic in a good way. It just wasn’t the kind of thing you auditioned for. It didn’t have that kind of language. It kind of cut against the grain of what your standard teen comedies were in those days, which were really cool. It was an era of things like Ferris Bueller and stuff. There were some great movies that came out of that period, but they were very specific and the kids didn’t know… The high school kids in those movies they acted like 45-year-old men.

Sure. They’re using reasoning and logic, unlike the usual teenager.

And it’s always all about sexual politics and extremely complex. I mean, these were two really tight friends but they were very childlike and very innocent and spoke in this incredibly distinct way, and then went on these very elaborate adventures.

In terms of recapturing it, I think that what we all liked the idea that Chris and Ed brought to us. This notion that this grandiose destiny had not been fulfilled, so what would their lives [look like]? Who would these guys be today as dads and husbands and people who were supposed to have essentially saved the entire universe but hadn’t? It seemed like there was a lot of comic potential there. So that was appealing to us.

(United Artists Releasing)

Definitely. It’s a completely different phase of life. I mean, I’m sure everyone’s curious about where the hell these guys are going to go.

And then that sort of dovetails to ‘where does anyone go?’ The promise of their youth and then processing that in a later period of life as fathers and husbands and doing that through the lens of Bill and Ted just seemed quite funny to us.

You mentioned auditions earlier – I don’t know if you saw this but literally last week, a bunch of tapes came out from your original audition for Excellent Adventure. Did you see them?

My kids showed me a couple of those. They found them lurking on the internet.

The cool thing is you can already see the obvious chemistry between you and Keanu [Reeves]. Looking back at those, can you remember what was going on there? Did something seem to just click between you two, onscreen or offscreen? How did that work?

Well, I don’t have any recollection of those auditions at all, other than a very fuzzy memory. But I will say that I do remember becoming close friends with Keanu almost immediately. He’s one of my very closest friends in the world and has been since that time. So it was sort of the meeting of a best friend.

I think both of us were pleasantly surprised by how much fun it was to act together again. I don’t think we really considered that, to be honest with you. I mean, we already knew we liked hanging out, so I don’t think we gave much thought to the distinction between being a friend out in the world and being in this performative partnership again.

Was it hard jumping back into the shoes of those characters or did that just flow naturally?

A little of both. It took thought, it took a lot of rehearsal, but we didn’t really turn the gas all the way on until we started shooting, kind of intentionally, we didn’t really want to overthink it. So we did our own prep work and then we did prep work together. And then we all did a lot of rehearsing and rewriting and things once we got down in New Orleans and were preparing to shoot, but it really wasn’t until we were on set and shooting that we turned the whole machine on, and that didn’t take a lot of thought.

It was like we found ourselves right back in the old rhythm again and that was really nice. We kind of looked at each other after the first week and thought, ‘Hey, we like doing this.’ It’s been a lot of fun

(United Artists Releasing)

So, Bill and Ted are dads now. What can you tell us about their daughters and how did casting land on Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine?

Well, I think that the producers and casting director were looking for actors to play these roles in a very similar way as us, in the sense that I think they were looking for people who would work off of each other and have chemistry with each other. They saw a lot of people before they landed on those two, but Samara and Bridgette are great actors in their own right and have really good instincts and really good training, so we were grateful that they came at the roles, not looking to be us or to replicate us in any way, but seeing their own roles with their own views of the family and that was really fun.

I remember the first day, we rehearsed with them and so we got the vibe of what they were doing. It was really fun because they were just so not doing a Bill and Ted reduction. They had their own vibe.

They really created their own characters, huh?

And they related to us as their dad’s, not as Bill and Ted the characters.

(United Artists Releasing)

So, staying on Bill as a dad, what are some cliché dad moves that you think Bill is definitely guilty of? Is he the only one laughing at his dad jokes? Is he pointing a stud finder at himself and saying, “I’ve found one, dude!”

I think that he’s always the glass-half-full guy and he’s also ‘let’s just roll up our sleeves and dive in.’ He’s the dad who would, like, jump off the roof into the swimming pool while the kids are having a party and end up breaking his ankle and embarrassing the hell out of everybody.

Personally, I love those dads. Are there any characteristics of Bill’s that you personally would like to emulate a bit better as a father yourself?

I mean, I think his complete and utter hopefulness in the face of any adversity is something that I really liked playing. I have to believe it obviously because I’m playing it, so finding that part in my psyche is nice and it’s fun. He really does have a lot of hope no matter how awful things get, he’s always looking for whatever the path is to rectify it. The funny thing about the relationship between Bill and Ted is, Bill is the one who’s thinking everything’s going to be okay while Ted is usually the one that figures out how to make it okay.

Right. You kinda need both sides for things to actually work out.

You really do, so it’s a fun thing to play. There’s a genuine optimism there and it’s something that Keanu and I’ve worked on a lot, especially in act one of this movie, because they’re in very different places psychologically when the film starts and we like that and we really leaned into it.

(United Artists Releasing)

Love that. So, rather than going back in time in this film, Bill and Ted repeatedly jumped forward to meet progressively older versions of themselves. If you use a phone booth-shaped time machine to meet your future self, what would you hope to find?

Well, I’m a dad, so I got to think like a dad. So I want to find my kids being happy and in a different place in their lives.

Solid answer, especially for our audience.

[laughing] It is a hundred percent true, my friend. It’s all you think about!

A Conversation With Comedian Jason Weems, a Dad Who Literally Died Onstage

Jason Weems' new comedy special, "Unknown"
(Amazon Prime)

Jason Weems died in 2017. Literally, flatlined on the floor of a comedy club in Philadelphia. No heartbeat for 5 minutes thanks to a severe asthma attack.

He was (and still is) a rising star in the comedy world after reaching the semi-finals on two seasons of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” and performing at the Just For Laughs festival in Montreal, and thankfully, his brush with death has only given him more material.

His newest special, which debuted on August 4, is titled “Unknown” in reference to the bizarre way the hospital labeled him on that fateful night.

Weems is also a father of three (and has plenty of material to prove it), so kicking the bucket that day would not only have been a tragic end to a promising career, but would’ve left his sons without a father.

In light of his new special and Grade-A dad material, we sat down with Weems to discuss near-death experiences, his sons’ pediatrician (who moonlights as a DJ), and balancing his roles of comic and father.


Jordan: So the title, “Unknown.” Can you jump into the origins of that a little bit?

Jason: Of course. One of the main themes for the special is I die, May 3rd, 2017.

Hell of a strong start.

[laughing] Yeah, I had a severe asthma attack in Philly, a few minutes into a headline set at a show. There was a doctor in the crowd, but unfortunately, they weren’t able to hook my nebulizer up quickly enough. And the attack was so aggressive that it literally shut down my airways and then ultimately stopped my heart from beating. From what I’m told from third-party people who were there—audience members, bar staff, all that stuff—I literally just coded right there in the venue.

Then there was a 16-hour period when I was unconscious in a Philadelphia hospital. And when I came to, they had me listed as “Unknown”. So, in the literal sense, it comes from that.

And it’s almost a decade since your first special, right? “Intellectual Property”?

Literally a decade. That was filmed December 4th of 2010, and this one’s coming out 2020.

That one was also filmed here in Baltimore at another great theater, completely self-produced. Both of these specials have been self-produced.

It wasn’t like somebody put the money up for us [for “Unknown”]. There was no guarantee for distribution. It was a true hail Mary, but it was a story that I felt was important. I felt it was, as much as “Unknown” as a comedy special, I feel it’s also a celebration of life.

You definitely delve into those deep and heavy themes that a lot of people might steer away from, but it’s those topics that really makes it feel authentic and real.

Yeah. Absolutely.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

I’m beyond proud of this project. This is the team that partnered with me to make this shit happen. Completely Self-Funded & Produced. We envisioned it, worked for it, manifested it, worked a whole lot more & now it’s almost here. It’s a pride & anxiousness you only truly know after witnessing your child being born into the world. This is dreams materializing. Not by chance, but by grace & by hustle. We really ran this bastard from end zone to end zone (in the rain ☔️). Thank you for the support. ⁣ ⁣ Please share the MF’ing wheels off of that trailer, thumbs up those tracks from the album on Sirus XM & Pandora right now, and burn the special up when it drops on Amazon next Tuesday August 4th, 2020. Then rinse & repeat. ⁣ ⁣ Even if you don’t think it’s funny, just write a rave review off of GP & then we can work out your poor taste in art in a personal text message. Don’t y’all fuck this up for me !!! Love y’all. I’m very grateful & humbled right now ❤️✊🏽.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ #JasonWeemsComedy #Unknown #6DaysAway MyBmore #FromBaltimoreWithLove #audaCITY🔥

A post shared by Jason Weems (@jasonweemscomedy) on

And speaking of this whole show being a community effort to come together and create something great, your house DJ and your kids’ pediatrician… are the same person?

Same dude.

I’m going to need you to talk about that.

Yeah. So, this guy’s name is Ashanti Woods. If anybody ever moves to Baltimore and needs a good pediatrician, this guy’s amazing. His wife and my wife went to high school together, but then they lost contact. Years later, I become a father and we need a new pediatrician. This was a world that we were new to. We wanted somebody that could grow up with the kids, not somebody who’s 85.

So we put out some feelers on Facebook and she responded to my wife, like “Hey, my husband’s a pediatrician”. And then we realized, ‘Oh, we do know him. And he’s a great guy.’

He was amazing with the kids. It was an instant comfort. And then years later, I’m a couple of years into doing comedy. I see that he’s starting to DJ.

Did he have posters in his office about future shows and stuff? He’s like, “Oh yeah. After you get this prescription, come down to this club.” Like, how does that translate?

[laughing] Yeah. And it feels like he does. So his name is DJ P-O-P. If you look at the trailer, that’s my DJ. P-O-P stands for Prince of Pediatrics.

Of course it does.

So then we were pulling this special together and we really didn’t want to outsource the talent. We wanted this to be us all the way through. So it was a no-brainer. It was just a matter of whether he was going to say yes or not.

And he was into it?

He was into it. He’s a dad as well. He’s got two little ones.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

La Familia ❤️. ⁣ ⁣ #JasonWeemsComedy #TeamWeems #WeemsTheNextGeneration #GangGang

A post shared by Jason Weems (@jasonweemscomedy) on

Speaking of kids, how has fatherhood impacted this new special compared to the last one? Have you noticed a shift?

Oh, absolutely.

I noticed you’re not wearing crispy white New Balances when you’re out there. You don’t have cargo shorts on or anything, but I’m assuming there had been some kind of development or evolution.

Definitely in the sense of material. I mean, the first special was 2010. I wasn’t even a dad yet. So we filmed the first special, “Intellectual Property,” December 4th, 2010, and I think December 11th or 12th, I found out that we were having our son.

We had shot the show. Everybody was exhausted. So my wife and I flew to Florida and went down to the Harry Potter resort.

We’re drinking Butterbeer and walking all around the streets, and she just kept telling me that she felt weird. So I figured we just drank too much Butterbeer.

You never know how that’s going to hit. It’s a magical concoction, man.

Then we got back to Baltimore, it was still continuing. And we were out with one of my buddies for his birthday party and she said, “Can you drop me at the house? And you guys can just continue on.”

So then I came home from the party and she was standing at the door with the test and it was a strong-ass plus sign.

Strong plus sign, like it’s punching through the screen.

[laughing] Yeah. You could feel it. It was like braille.

And then it instantly shifted the way I toured, instantly shifted the way I performed, how I accepted shows.

I was passing up so many gigs, because it was like, ‘I’m just in love with this little guy.’ But then it got to a point where, financially, I needed to start taking shows again.

But the thing was, I just filmed the special “Intellectual Property,” so I hadn’t been out enough to turn over new material and truly test it. So I started riffing a lot on stage. I’ve always been quick on my feet, but the crowd work element of my stand up, the fast and loose stuff, it really grew out of me becoming a father.

And now that’s probably what I’m known for the most. Like, if you talk to comics in the Baltimore-DC area, all of them go, “Weems just goes off the top of his head, he just riffs it. He just comes out of thin air.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Jason Weems (@jasonweemscomedy) on

And you can tell a lot from your material that you’re a dad who’s involved. Like, I couldn’t help but notice the amount of overlap when it comes to bathroom material and kid material. I think a lot of parents would have that Venn diagram, too. Toilets and showers and bath time… there’s always a story.

Right. I mean, there are just so, so many things can go wrong when you’re washing a little person. Or when you send a little person into a bathroom alone, you don’t know what’s going to come out. It’s always a gamble.

There’s a sentence in your special where you’re talking about giving your boys a bath and you say, quote “nut crumbs… butt crumbs… armpit juice… and piss.”

Right, it’s a good summary of boys in general.

Have any of your boys manifested that entertainer gene yet? Has that been passed down through your bloodline?

All of them…

Oh no.

It’s like The Wayans Brothers. Like straight up, these kids are so talented. Our oldest is eight turning nine, yet the level of humor that he possesses is easily that of a 14 to 16-year-old. I swear, he’s coming for my position.

Yeah, I’d totally feel a little threatened.

Now, the other two, they’re hilarious. I have twin six-year-olds. So the youngest twin is younger by a minute. He’s the most flamboyant and like really out there and he wants to dance on stage and be in front of people. And he has that real kind of firecracker type of humor.

My other twin, little quieter, his stuff is more, he’ll slip in something real quietly under a conversation. Like, me and my wife will be talking, but you hear him say something like [quietly, under breath] “I would have done that…” Like just real quiet.

Ooh, like a little sarcastic dagger.

A little dagger, yeah. Also, things lined up and my kids are in this special! Like physically you see them when the special ends. My wife, my parents are sitting front row and my mother-in-law, people I went to college with and high school. So it’s almost like a block party.

Yeah. It feels like a homecoming. A love letter to Baltimore.

It’s beautiful. Truly a love letter to Baltimore.


You can check Jason’s new comedy special “Unknown” here on Amazon Prime.

Jon Hamm Puts New Spin on the Old “If You Ever Hurt My Daughter…” Threat

Jon Hamm narrates a short film about a newly feminist father in "If you ever hurt my daughter, I swear to God I'll let her navigate her own personal growth"
(New Yorker/AMC)

You know the stereotype when it comes to being the father of a teenage daughter – a protective patriarchal figure threateningly cleaning a firearm on the front porch when the boyfriend arrives, not-so-subtly illustrating the kid’s painful demise should anything happen to his “little girl.” It’s a trope that’s been played out for years in both media and reality, but a recent short film is flipping the cliche on its head.

Adapted from a New Yorker Shouts & Murmurs column by Sophie Kohn titled “If You Ever Hurt My Daughter, I Swear To God I’ll Let Her Navigate Her Own Emotional Growth, the piece highlights a father’s personal journey in learning to love and trust his daughter in a less stereotypical way, all narrated by the indelible Jon Hamm.

“It’s flipping the script on what we’re perceiving men and fathers to be; not just in media and pop culture, but in real life,” Director Meghan Ross told The Dad. “And to me, not only is it so funny and biting, but it’s the self-awareness that this dad has that I really hope dads of all ages [see] and realize an antiquated viewpoint of raising young girls is not something that needs passing on.”

Meghan, a writer, director, and comedian residing in Austin, TX, originally heard about the New Yorker essay from her brother, Justin Ross, a producer for this piece who’s also the founder of Bravemakers, the production studio behind it all.

“I thought there was no better time to produce something like this,” Justin said. “We want to produce things that have some kind of a social message behind it, which a lot of brands are getting behind. But even in the entertainment space, I like that creativity is being challenged to have some kind of a positive message on a number of issues.”

The next step was to reach out to the editor, Sophie Kohn, a Toronto-based comedian, who was thrilled by the idea of a film adaptation. Apparently, she always envisioned her essay as something that should be illustrated onscreen, and this was the perfect opportunity. She probably didn’t expect a Hollywood powerhouse like Jon Hamm to jump on board the project, though.

“We do have to give credit to our sister,” Meghan acknowledged on roping Hamm into the project. “She was credited as an associate producer. She was helping Justin and me with casting. We were just brainstorming names and thinking about recognizable voices – people we thought would be a good fit, a funny fit. And then she was the one that mentioned Jon Hamm. I think she had watched something that he had narrated, like a documentary or something.”

“It’s pretty obvious that he’s a huge fan of comedy,” Justin commented. “And what Meghan was able to find out in the comedy scene—because she comes from the New York comedy scene, originally—is that Jon will just align himself with anything that he thinks is funny. Absolutely. Regardless of budget or anything like that. He’s just a fan of comedy. He’s not a father, clearly, but he is a fan of a socially powerful piece and comedy. It was a win-win for him.”

The pair fully recognize that the 3-minute film is controversial, but rather than shove an agenda about proper parenting (whatever that means) down viewers’ throats, Meghan and Justin hope to spur conversations between friends and family members with opposing views on the subject, and they’re confident that comedy is the perfect method for achieving that goal.

“Comedy is more important and necessary than ever,” Justin elaborated. “If you can pack a powerful message like this with comedy, it’s a win. It’s a better way to deliver things. You’re going to have the extremely one-sided people who are just going to look at this and be like, ‘This is a liberal piece and a liberal publication with a liberal Hollywood actor.’ I’m hoping that if people were on the fence about a particular subject or didn’t really know where they were taking a stance on something like this, in terms of parenting, that it made digesting a little bit easier”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Brave Makers (@bravemakersshop) on

The Ross siblings aren’t parents themselves, and their dad wasn’t a gun-toting patriarch brooding on the doorstep either, but Justin admitted to playing the protective brother role from time to time when they were growing up in New Jersey.

“For my younger sisters, I was that prime high school/college age where I was waiting for any opportunity,” he remembered. “I think, Meghan’s prom weekend, I showed up with a bunch of my buddies to drive her home. Knowing the rite of passage of prom weekend, she was down the shore at a hotel with her friends, and I knew there was going to be drinking involved. We kicked in the door. We were the Bureau of Alcohol and Firearms.”

“That’s a little exaggerated,” Meghan interjected with a smile. “You opened a cooler and you were like, ‘What’s in there?’ And there were just snacks. But it was funny because it was the end of the weekend and it’s, like, obviously we had already drunk all the booze.”

As for what’s next for the brother/sister duo, they are so proud of this project and have received such a positive response that they’re hoping to collaborate again, and soon.

“Justin and I are looking to collaborate on a lot more of these projects; something that’s entertaining and has a strong message behind it,” Meghan said. “We are in talks to potentially adapt another [essay], and we’re also always open to [working with] writers who write along the same vein.”

“This was our first step in that direction in terms of collaboration,” Justin added. “And we did not expect it to be this grand. We did not expect our first sibling project to be attached to Jon Hamm, but we’re aiming for even bigger and greater things, and hopefully, Meghan and I don’t kill each other in the process.”


If you want to see more from the filmmakers, Meghan currently hosts a weekly Instagram Live series called “No One Asked For This,” interviewing female experts, activists, and leaders about the social injustices in our world that no one asked for, all while completing activities at an average-to-below-average skill level that no one asked for (e.g., baking a sheet cake, coloring in a coloring book, etc.)

Justin’s current and past work can be found at Bravemakers, helping agencies and brands effectively communicate their story through video and connect with their target audiences.

The Dad Of The Month, July 2020: Marwin Fernandez

(Photos courtesy of Jennifer Fernandez)

We are honored to announce The Dad of the Month for July, 2020: Marwin Fernandez. Marwin is one of the brave medical professionals on the front lines fighting against COVID-19, an all-star father to two boys, and a loving husband. His wife, Jennifer, couldn’t help but gush about him in her submission:

“My husband Marwin truly gives his all to his family and is dedicated to working as an ER nurse, showing compassion to everyone in our small-town community. He is a badass that stands and fights death on the daily. He loves what he does and that he makes a difference in people’s lives each day and support his family by doing it. He comes home after a 12 hr shift, his pedometer often registering over 20,000+ steps and reads to our two boys (Landon age 6 and Kai age 4), feeds our dog, and hugs his wife (that’s me Jenn, a local art teacher). He supports me as an artist and will often watch our kids so that I can pursue my professional teaching degrees and have time to work on creating my own art.

“He worked tirelessly during the pandemic often putting himself at risk, therefore having to socially distance himself from his own family for about 2 weeks after his exposure. It was heartbreaking for him to explain to the boys that he couldn’t give them hugs and that he could only video chat with them, but they made the best of it because it was best for everyone.

“He was also working the day of the fatal school bus accident on the highway nearest to Hackettstown Medical Center. They received a few urgent patients at his hospital, one of which—his patient—was a young student. It was questionable how her severe injuries would have affected her life long-term if she had not received his team’s (because he is supported by many) knowledge, quick thinking, and care that ultimately resulted in saving her life. Months later, he was extremely grateful to have the opportunity to meet this young girl, see her smile, and give her a hug once she was healed because that is what it is all about!

“Last year we had the opportunity to attend the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Marwin made sure to get out there at 4 AM in the cold just to make sure his kids got front row seats. This is a true testament to the great dad he is. He also recently taught our 4-year-old, Kai, to ride his bike without training wheels and helped Landon achieve his many cub scout badges. It would be a great honor for him to receive the DAD award because it sounds super hardcore (just like him) and being a Dad is truly the thing that he is most proud of!

“He left his home country of the Philippines to move here when he was 16 and work as an EMT, then a full time as a tech to support his family, having had his first daughter at the age of 20, all while completing nursing school. We are celebrating our 10th year of marriage this year and I was finally able to convince him to take a break from working his second job as a per diem PACU nurse at night. This way he can (maybe) get some rest and no doubt enjoy his time off on the weekends with his boys going on hikes, camping, and fishing.

“He was recently acknowledged for dedication to nursing this past November as the first Daisy award honoree at Hackettstown Medical Center for his ability to create an environment where attributes of trust, compassion, mutual respect for his colleagues and his patients.”

To honor Marwin and his tireless commitment to his family and community, we’re giving him $500 and some special edition dad gear. Marwin’s dedication to excellence in both the medical field and as a father is something we should all aspire for in our own lives!

Click here to read more or nominate a special dad in your life.