Wednesday, August 28, 2013

One last update before bed

A new Erfworld episode is up! This is one of my favorites of what I've done so far -- a chance to play with some subtle emotional beats.

Also, more Erfworld

If you care about Erfworld, be warned, there are some pretty major and exciting plot bombs being dropped in these coming updates.

If you don't care about Erfworld, I do a lot of funny voices in these updates.

Back from Maine

I think I've become the kind of person who spends the whole time before a vacation stressing out about how much I need a vacation and then spends the whole vacation stressing out about how much work I should be getting done.


Anyway, I've got two big local performance projects on my plate right now. I'm currently cast in a multicultural awareness play for the freshman orientation at John Carroll University, which goes up this Friday and for which we have been feverishly rehearsing (with the wrinkle that my vacation threw a week-long absence in the middle of an already tight rehearsal schedule).

Shocker of shockers, I play the Asian guy.

I'd have invited everyone I know to come see it but I think it's 1) only for incoming freshmen at John Carroll who need to be educated about diversity issues on campus, and 2) of limited interest to anyone who isn't an incoming freshman at John Carroll who needs to be educated about diversity issues on campus.

In all seriousness, a lot of the situations in this play -- like white students throwing a hipster-ironic "ghetto party" where everyone dressed up as black stereotypes -- actually happened at JCU, and it's kind of depressing and frustrating that stuff as basic as "This kind of thing = BAD" still needs to be made the focus of huge educational initiatives, but that's the world we live in.

In other and more exciting news, I've been cast as a gang member who dies in a Cleveland indie film. I don't think I can give much more info than that due to the impressively scary NDA I had to sign to be part of this project, but suffice it to say I am extremely excited to finally die horribly and messily on the mean streets of Cleveland -- a dream I have had since I moved here (almost every  night, in fact).

I swear I will be posting more stuff (or, as we say in the small business world, "generating quality content to foster and maintain engagement") as soon as I get some breathing room. Look forward to: My audio work on the "Book of Voices" audiobook project, some blasts from the past with commercial narrations I did that got on YouTube, some new monologues I've been working on and my entry in's Vine contest.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

My Cleveland stand-up debut

Cleveland has long been an incubator for stand-up comics -- a species that thrives on self-loathing, alcohol, strip clubs and hipster irony, all of which can be found in abundance in this city -- and stand-up comedy is the latest of the many things I've chosen to try to break into.

I had been doing improv comedy for a good long while in DC prior to this, and while I will always love improv the strict instructions never to "pre-plan" jokes began to grate on me after a while, since nary a week goes by when I haven't developed a backlog of pre-planned jokes I'm aching to deploy at one inappropriate venue or another.

So I resolved when I came to Cleveland to take that step into the unknown, flying solo with only a script to guide me.

What I learned was that going out there with a script and no teammates is way, way scarier than going out there with teammates and no script. I could spin this into a moral about the Power of Friendship, but it's really just because if you have teammates then if you bomb it's not actually 100% your fault.

In any case, after I finished an excellent workshop with the excellent Dave Schwensen, I took a video of my prototype standup set to share with you all. I've been performing fairly regularly since then and fine-tuning things, but the basic setup of my routine focuses on the things most familiar to me: Voiceover work, overwhelming intellectual arrogance, and cancer jokes.
Let me know what you think!

Coming Soon: YouTube Adventures

My YouTube channel has been little more than a dumping ground for various privately-posted abortive projects in the past, and the occasional video audition for a reality TV show (I haven't given up on you yet, King of the Nerds!), but I'm planning to do more with it as soon as I get back from recharging my batteries on vacation.

Obviously being on-camera is not the most natural thing for me -- having been told by several people who thought they were hilariously creative and witty that I have a great face for radio -- but videos tend to be more fun and easier to click on than SoundCloud audio files, and if I can gallivant around outdoors wearing this:

Then I can survive pretty much anything.

In any case, watch this space for more to come:

Friday, August 16, 2013

Announcement: ERFWORLD

I've played this announcement very coy up till now, and actually meant to make the big post this morning, but my day job wouldn't leave me alone. (Sigh, stupid day job, I don't know why I do it. Oh yeah, money and health insurance.)

Anyway, those of you who know me may remember that a while ago I started bugging everyone about a Kickstarter campaign to fund a set of motion comics and animations at


A brief digression on what the heck Erfworld is:

I'm a huge geek, like some of you may also be, and as a demon-worshiping pimple-popping glasses-adjusting virginal young Dungeons and Dragons enthusiast, I was very much into Rich Burlew's Order of the Stick.

It was a comic about gaming that made gaming jokes and yet, over time, turned into a real story about characters with depth that made you remember how great and thought-provoking D&D could be when you weren't just munching Cheetos and slaying kobolds. What else could you ask for? (And it was written by the guy who took second place to Eberron in Wizards of the Coast's "Design a D&D Setting" competition, but that's another digression.)

I, like tens of thousands of other Order of the Stick fans, was surprised and bemused to see Rich Burlew have a guest comic at the end of 2006. This weirdly cutesy, surreal "Erfworld" certainly wasn't about D&D but about some kind of homebrew old-school miniatures game on a hex map, packed chock-full of lame puns, esoteric Internet meme references and characters who took themselves very seriously despite being modeled on the proportion of Polly Pocket dolls.

Like most Order of the Stick fans, I was confused, then dismissive, then absolutely hooked.

Erfworld has progressed from that day forward to becoming an impressive soap opera, philosophical meditation on the nature of war and absolutely crazy gonzo work of detailed on-the-fly worldbuilding all in one. It's undergone several format changes and been through some rocky times with artists being replaced and updates being put on hiatus, but I've joined the legion of fans who've stuck with it through all the troubles.

And, seriously, this story about "dwagons" and "twolls" and "Lord Stanley the Tool" made it to one of Time Magazine's Top 10 Graphic Novels of 2007.

...And then Rob Balder, the author, put out a casting call for voiceover artists to help further the multimedia-ification of Erfworld.

You know what I had to do.


Fast-forward to today, and I'm incredibly honored to be the voice of the Epilogue chapters to Erfworld Book 2, presented in the format of illustrated text-with-audio.

The characters of Erfworld and the setting of Erfworld are incredibly fun to inhabit behind the mic. It's been a blast working with Rob so far and I hope to continue doing so for a long time.

For those of you who glazed over during all the geeky crap up there, trust me, go to, start with Book 1 and get in on the craze. You won't regret it -- indeed, the only thing you will regret is that you have to make it all the way to the end of Book 2 before you get to hear my mellifluous voice.

For those of you for whom "hex-based miniatures" sounds like some kind of unpleasant disease -- especially those of you who miraculously might be reading this because you're an Important Showbiz Person looking to Sample the Quality of My Work -- let me just say this is some of the more rewarding character work I've ever done, and I truly hope that I've managed to convey pathos, human drama and depth in a narrative littered with cutesy twee nonsense (which is what those of us who love Erfworld have always loved about it).

Without further ado, permalinks to the first two episodes of the Erfworld epilogues:

Stay tuned, more to come!

What the hell, gamers

A lot of the pieces of living human excrement who have hounded Jennifer Hepler off the Internet and out of her job have as the cornerstone of their complaints that video games are an inappropriate place for her sexual fantasies.

To all the angry straight men defending video games from inappropriate sexual fantasies, I have to say:


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Cleveland Rocks

For those of you who know me already, you probably know it's been a long-standing item of contention between me and my lovely wife where we should live. As a native to Northeast Ohio, her vote has always and forever been for Cleveland, whereas as a non-native to Northeast Ohio my vote has always been for Anywhere But Cleveland.

(Who can blame me? It's a city that inspires its own residents to create things like this.)

Eventually, after many months of discussing, bickering, kicking and screaming she finally convinced me, Mr. Bi-Coastal Snob, to pursue relocation to her beloved Midwest. The primary bargaining chip in this negotiation was her quitting the lucrative government job that had been holding us in the DC area, thus leaving us with no actual rational reason to stay there.

The snarky side of me wants to complain about the lack of free museums, lack of political figures of national significance, lack of Ethiopian restaurants and lack of gigantic marble obelisk landmarks in this city, but here's a brief rundown of what's actually happened for me since we moved to Cleveland:

  • I got a great day job with great benefits
  • I got signed with a talent agency, the Talent Group
  • I got cast in the Cleveland Shakespeare Festival
  • In general, I've been winning or placing in competitions, making it to callbacks or booking on auditions, and just generally kicking butt way more than I had in DC
Why is this? Well, obviously the pat explanation is that Cleveland is a smaller pond than DC -- and certainly smaller than LA, where I was based before my wife and I got together. Another explanation might be that I have, in fact, consistently grown and matured as an actor in all the time that it felt like I was struggling uphill trying to make inroads in voiceover and in stage acting during my time on the East Coast. And it's true the combination of reaching a new plateau skill-wise while jumping into a smaller pond can feel like a breakthrough.

But in a lot of ways, despite everything I loved about DC, I was in a rut there, and a change of physical scenery can often be enough to break a lot of the mental and emotional habits that hold us back from taking the chances we need to take.

I never thought I'd say it but I do like a lot of things about Cleveland over DC -- I like the nonexistence of the Beltway, the lack of seething crowds of tourists, and the fact that I rarely if ever meet anyone who actually goes to a bar or restaurant after work still wearing a freaking tie and plastic ID badge in order to assert their social status.

But mainly I simply like that it's different, and that by being different it's allowed me space to be different -- to look at all the things I was doing and the limitations on myself I was unconsciously accepting beforehand and seriously ask myself what about myself I wanted to change.

And for that opportunity, I will always be grateful, even if the city does smell kind of funny.

Monday, August 12, 2013

My triumphal return to blogging

Greetings, everyone!

Some of you may know me from college, or from past jobs, or from random Internet kerfluffles. Some of you may have been specifically invited to start reading this blog. Some of you may have stumbled upon this randomly and have no idea who I am.

That's fine. Welcome!

I'm a Renaissance man, insomniac and all around weird guy. Most of you who know me know that already.

Since I was a wee lad my obsession has been with acting and performance, whether it involved improvising cruel impressions of teachers on the school bus or giving heartfelt line readings of Macbeth in English class or hijacking the school announcements to insert my controversial political opinions.

As I got older and I successfully passed through puberty and learned to fake some measure of social maturity, I learned to find other outlets for my attention-seeking urges. Improv, stand-up, acting in Shakespeare productions...

But the one gift that always outshone the others was my voice. After enough people had paid me the backhanded compliment of telling me that my deep, rich, baritone voice sounds "absolutely nothing like the way I look", I decided to stop narrating my own internal monologue for free and start narrating other people's written monologues for money.

After all, it's just voiceover. How hard could it be?

Many years later, many lessons later and many sleepless frenzied nights in front of the mic in my home studio whispering "Why does it still not sound right?!" later, I've started booking jobs regularly, I've made a decent amount of money and I'm ready to come out of the closet to you all as Arthur Chu, VO Pro With A Blog.

Everything I've read about networking, social media marketing, creating customer engagement, developing a brand identity, etc. mostly boils down to the fact that however it is you do it, you have to do it by actually talking to people and not sitting at home playing video games, so this blog is my first public step into the world of letting people know who I am and what I do.

And it's already pretty late, so I'll leave you for now with an admonition:

Watch this space. There is more to come.