Practicing social distance gives you a chance to do more introspection than we usually do. And with the coronavirus pandemic impacting all of us, we’ve decided this would be a good time to share some interesting things about the people behind the scenes at Outsports.
Today, Ken Schultz shares 13 interesting (?) things about himself. He’s the one who added a question mark after “interesting,” not us.
1. The longest relationship I’ve had in my life — for good and for ill — has been with the Chicago Cubs. My dad took me to Wrigley Field for the first time when I was one year old. The Cubs lost 7-0. My fandom couldn’t have started more appropriately. Being a Cubs fan has given me many highs and a seemingly infinite number of lows. After watching the 1998 Cubs clinch the Wild Card, I ran from one end of my college campus to the other with my fists in the air as if I was starring in a spontaneous one man show of Chariots of Fire and surprised four different friends who were not expecting me to show up at their door at midnight yelling “HUG ME!” But I also had the misfortune of attending the infamous Bartman Game (Real fans know it should be the Alex Gonzalez Game) in person and that ended with me sobbing openly for five minutes. Still, it was all worth it to call my dad after Game 7 in 2016 and to hear his voice marvelling that we were both alive to actually watch the Cubs — the Cubs — lift the World Series trophy. I am forever grateful for the 2016 Cubs who, in one night, made being a baseball fan worth it.
2. Beyond the Chicago National League Ballclub, I’m a total baseball nerd and love so much about the sport. (In fact, I have a podcast about it!) Especially baseball history. Every offseason, I try to write a new piece about my two all-time favorite players: Ted Williams and Ryne Sandberg. And I can name every year’s World Series winner from memory. Here, let me go to our Outsports Slack Channel...
ME: Hey Dawn, name a year from 1903 to present.
DAWN ENNIS: 1976.
ME: Cincinnati Reds. Name another!
ME: New York Yankees. One more, please!
DAWN: I figured out what you’re up to. 1999.
ME: New York Yankees. Thank you!
DAWN: Fuckin’ Yankees. You’re welcome.
The lesson? Even if you don’t know this stuff from memory, just guess “Yankees” and you, too, can sound like a genius. Sigh.
3. That said, I was horrifically bad at playing baseball. And all sports, really. Small motor skills and coordination do not run in my family. In fifth grade little league, I remember being stationed way out in left field. The batter hit a routine fly ball. I camped out under and caught it. And my team celebrated like we’d won the pennant.
4. But... the best sports experience I’ve ever had was playing for my college intramural basketball team whose roster consisted entirely of scientists, English majors, and role playing geeks. We were Team Dunkin’ Donuts... because our game had so many holes. And my role was to embody the persona of “Stone Cold” Ken Schultz. I only did what I was good at: namely, running onto the court, turning to the ten people in our cheering section, and demanding “GIMME A ‘HELL YEAH!’” Also: I usually came directly from play rehearsal, which meant I was playing basketball in jeans and a button down Eddie Bauer shirt. Raise some hell indeed.
5. And my happiest memories from high school involved meeting my friends on football Fridays, climbing to the top of the bleachers, and spending the entire game singing Monty Python, Weird Al, and Dr. Demento songs at full volume. So, if any Stevenson High School football players ever wondered why touchdowns were celebrated with a chorus of “They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha Ha!” that was me.
6. I came out to my father, sister, and brother-in-law during the car ride home from Christmas Eve mass. Because when you don’t know how to transition into such an important conversation, you might as well pick the most awkward possible time to do it. I was 35 years old when I started coming out and often feel like I’m still in tutorial mode.
7. In addition to writing for Outsports, I’ve been doing stand-up comedy for the past 20 years. In that time, I’ve done some amazing shows opening for incredibly brilliant comedians like Gary Gulman and Jimmy Pardo. I’ve also played a room in Cedar Falls, Iowa, where a local swinger couple came up after the show and asked if they could have my CD in exchange for a DVD of their homemade pornography. (Since it’s Iowa, is the term “locally grown?”) My response: “Um... thank you for the porn?”
*Glances back at previous item* Yeah, I can’t believe it took me 35 years either...
8. There are a lot of comics who make me laugh. But many of my all-time favorites are classic comedians from the 1920s through the 1940s. I adore Laurel & Hardy, Abbott & Costello, The Marx Brothers, Buster Keaton, and Mae West. Classic comedy fandom is a very small subset of the geek kingdom but I’m so glad that I’m able to appreciate the astoundingly funny and vibrant brilliance of these all-time greats almost a century after they did their best work.
9. My favorite TV show of all time is Mystery Science Theater 3000. Because of this, I’ve watched films like Manos: The Hands of Fate, Pod People, and The Giant Spider Invasion multiple times but I still have never seen Goodfellas. I am extremely OK with this.
10. I have a typical Chicagoan’s sense of civic pride about all things Chicago. That very much includes deep dish pizza. I take an almost cartoonish level of offense when snobbish New Yorkers contemptuously dismiss it with a hacky put-down like “that’s not pizza, that’s a casserole.” And I’ve never had anything go viral but the closest I’ve come was my response to Jon Stewart’s unprovoked character assassination of the food of the gods:
11. I attended Kenyon College and to break up the gray monotony of a typical Ohio winter, the school would throw an all-campus karaoke party in February. And every single year, I would win the Most Embarrassing Performance Award. Which was a misnomer because I had no shame about it at all. My year-by-year karaoke breakdown:
Freshman: “The Streak” by Ray Stevens
Sophomore: “Bitch” by Meredith Brooks
Junior: “Kiss” by Prince (during the bridge, I ripped open my jacket to reveal “SEXY MF” scrawled on my chest in magic marker)
Senior: “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi... as Andy Kaufman. You probably had to be there.
12. Beyond those singing exploits, I also spent four years singing bass in the Kenyon College Chamber Singers. We performed comprehensive programs from classical Bach and Brahms to madrigals to eccentric modern compositions. But my favorite pieces were South African protest and celebration songs. Because of those, I can still sing the South African “click language” of Xhosa astonishingly well for a child of the suburbs who grew up within a five minute drive of the nearest Abercrombie.
13. Ever since college, I’ve been a huge fan of Prince. He was our Mozart. If you want to activate me on the dance floor (and I strongly advise against this), nothing works better than requesting “Let’s Go Crazy” or “Housequake.” But my favorites are the jazz-infused ear candy of “Strollin’” and the heavenly slow jam “Adore.” An almost unfathomable genius.