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NEDtalks brings parody comedy to Hideout

Parody show creators just hope they're funnier than they are smart

March 14, 2012|By Julia Borcherts, a RedEye Special Contributor

Perhaps you're one of the millions who watched videos from TED Talks, the Silicon Valley super-conference where "ideas worth spreading" are disseminated by luminaries such as Al Gore, Steve Jobs and J.K. Rowling.

In response to these attempts to smarten us up, comedians Kellen Alexander, 27, and Seth Dodson, 29, joined forces in March 2011 to host "NEDTalks: Spreading Worthless Ideas," a TED Talks parody in which local comedians aim to dumb you down with speeches, pie charts and crayon drawings about ridiculous topics such as "How Skipping Breakfast Can Be Good for Hunger."

We checked in to find out more about their upcoming fifth NEDTalks mini-conference.

What's the inspiration behind these NEDTalks shows?
Kellen Alexander: We are stupid. The only thing we really know for sure is that we will never be smart. Since we'll never be able to give a TED Talk, we figured why not make up our own version where we can talk about what we are experts in: absolutely nothing.

What can people expect to see at NEDTalks?
KA: PowerPoint presentations that look like they were made by a third-grader in 1998.
Seth Dodson: Lectures and presentations on topics that range from idiotic to moronic, but will be funny.

In addition to comedians, you're bringing in an actual guest expert?
KA: Yes! We have Craig Hogan, the director of the Fermilab Center for Particle Astrophysics. He's an actual expert who is trying to prove that the 3-D universe in which we appear to live is [in fact] a hologram--which I think means we're living on a giant Pokemon card!

Where did you find him?
KA: I actually met him at a New Year's Eve party.

What are your own nerd credentials?
SD: I'm really into "Magic: The Gathering"--the fantasy trading-card game--and am trying to lead a revival of it by bringing my cards everywhere I go. So far, it isn't working.
KA: I did the three nerdiest activities at the country's nerdiest school: I played French horn, ran cross country and did improv comedy, all at the University of Chicago.

What's the worst conference you've ever attended?
SD: Probably one about theater in Texas while I was in college. When you combine big hair and Broadway, you can count on being bored!
KA: I think the only conference I've ever been to was a Youth Gathering for Lutherans. All I remember is that our church skipped out on participating in all of the service projects. I'm an atheist now.

You also perform separately and together in several comedy shows around town. Where do you go for inspiration?
SD: The Lucky Horseshoe, Bravo TV and the wig shop.

What's been the high point of your careers so far?
SD: Winning the Whistler Talent Show with our fake ghost-hunting act was a surprising moment, for sure.
KA: Anytime I get to work with the people I've always looked up to is a high point for me.
SD: Winning "Impress These Apes" was a highlight for me.

And the low point?
KA: I'll admit I was pretty bummed when I didn't make a Harold team at iO the first two times I tried--and then even more bummed when I didn't make an Incubator team at The Playground. I got off to a very slow start.
SD: No matter how much I drink, I don't think I've hit it quite yet.

Go: 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia Ave.
Tickets: $5;

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