In February of 1996, the first issue of a small-run, comedy magazine was published by a little known group of comedy writers and performers from Cleveland, Ohio, ironically calling themselves "The Phat 5". Between it's brightly colored covers lay 20 pages of hilarious bombastry and chest-thumping satire that required a backpack, some bammer, and a case of cheap beer to fully appreciate. And when issues of The Phat Phree ran out, college libraries from Ohio State to Georgia echoed with the broken cadence of copy machines and laughter as students commandeered university property to reproduce articles like "I Hate Christmas", "Smoking: The Key to a Good Bruce Willis Movie", and "The 500 Coolest Things of All-Time" for their friends.
Almost a decade later, in February of 2005, Charlie DeMarco resurrected The Phat Phree as a comedy website staffed by many of the same writers who had cut their teeth writing for the old print magazine. They were, in his estimation, the funniest writers anywhere, and despite the fact that they were spread out all over the country, the internet made it possible for them to work together again. Their only real goal was to make each other laugh. He hoped they’d inspire each other to write more, better, funnier. And, if they were lucky, they might find some other writers online who could do the same.
It didn’t take long. Within the first month, the website was getting nearly 10,000 visitors a day, and articles like “The NBA All Ugly Team” and “50 Ways to Get Fired” were getting emailed from cubicle farm to cubicle farm.
And then, on March 13th, The Phat Phree was born into the mainstream on the back of a striped shirt. Mike Polk’s biting, satirical confession of a brooding, club hoping, Golden Tee playing, Red Bull chugging, button down striped shirt wearing, ultimately lonely douche became an internet phenomenon. The GAP moved their striped shirts to the bargain rack, and Red Bull sent the guys cases and cases of free soda.
Almost overnight, The Phat Phree became a daily stop for tens of thousands of people lucky enough to have unfettered internet access at work. By the end of 2005, “Look At My Striped Shirt!” had been read more than 2 million times, and each day, the new articles were being read by nearly 20,000 regular visitors.So when it came time to start writing the first book, there was only one article that came to mind, and only one writer who could lead the charge.
Mike Polk works as a marketing producer at the Cleveland CBS affiliate station, writes and performs sketch comedy with Last Call Cleveland, and acted as the internal editor for the book.
Charlie DeMarco is the editor and publisher of The Phat Phree, and works as a freelance graphic designer and comedy writer.
Scott Hofman isn't very good at writing bios.
Alex Blagg is a writer and comedian living in New York City.
Michael Martone is a playwright and medical student. He lives in Chicago.
Chad Zumock is a writer and stand-up comic living in Cleveland.
Jim Fath is a Cleveland native now living in Chicago. He has written and performed in some shows you've never heard of, and would like to thank some people you don't know.
Patrick O'Connor is a political cartoonist and illustrator living in Los Angeles. He is the editorial cartoonist for the Los Angeles Daily News.
Aaron McBride is a Cleveland-based writer and performer who works with the sketch comedy group Last Call Cleveland.
Jesse Lamovsky has long considered suicide but has put those plans on hold, pending a Cleveland championship. He recently sold a book with fellow Phat Phree Staffers, Matt McCoy and Charlie DeMarco, called "The Worst of Sports".
M. Thomas L. is the psuedonym for a writer, muscian, and teacher of impressionable children living somewhere in Ohio.
Ryan McKee us a writer, comedian, and music trivia nerd living in Los Angeles.
Mike Hagesfeld is comedy writer, improviser, and actor from Cleveland.
Rob Sanford is the pen name of a New York attorney whose paranoia and narrcissism make him think that using his real name in this book could jeopardize his pathetic excuse for a legal career.
Ben Lambert is a writer from Illinois.
Justin Harvey is a music producer and comedy writer living and working in Los Angeles.
Ron Babcock is a comedian and filmmaker from Scranton, Pa., which is famous for coal mining and depression. He now lives in Los Angeles.
Steve Kiley writes, sells stuff, and fishes for striped bass in the summer with his big black rod.
Brenda Della Casa is a writer, actor, and casting director living in New York City. She and her Chihuahua, Tony Montana, are plotting to take over the world.
Chris Browne is a sales guy who tries to forget about revenue streams and enterprise software solutions by writing comedy and drinking copious amounts of wine and other fine alcoholic beverages.
Juan Turlington is a writer based in Cleveland. His restrictive occupation keeps him from revealing his true identity and background. While this annoys and angers him, it does make him feel somewhat like a superhero.
Josh Bacott is a writer from parts unknown.
Brandon Gnetz is a Nashville-based comedy writer.
Jason Mathews lives and works in Chicago. Someday he hopes to have his own episode of A&E's Biography instead of this shitty little bio. Hopefully they won't be able to run it during "Serial Killers" week.
Jon Santos is a sweet writer and friend to all.
Justin Wood works in market research in Minneapolis. He has an autographed photo with Dustin Diamond. Jealous?
Jef Etters is a writer and musician from Akron, Ohio. He performs with the sketch comedy group Last Call Cleveland with Mike Polk and Aaron McBride.
Jessica Joy Kemock did sketch comedy and improv in Los Angeles, and now she does it in Chicago. No big whoop.