Josh Zagoren (Chad the Bird) and Paper Machete founder Christopher Piatt will keep Augusts newbies in line.
  • Lorenzo Tassone
  • Josh Zagoren (Chad the Bird) and Paper Machete founder Christopher Piatt will keep August’s newbies in line.

On a Saturday in late July, Christopher Piatt, a bald gentlemen in a plain white T-shirt and a pair of sparkly studs, took the stage at the Green Mill to hilariously lip sync Betty Hutton’s jazz standard “Murder, He Says.” Piatt is the ringleader of the weekly variety show the Paper Machete, and he’s a pro at perfectly setting the tone for the next two hours of anything-goes performances. For the past four and a half years (the last year and a half of which have been stationed at the Green Mill), Piatt has brought together a mix of veterans and newbies from the worlds of journalism, comedy, and live lit to produce a “live magazine” reflecting on the week’s events. August, however, is gearing up to be a “cherry-popping, fresh-meat month,” according to Piatt, who proudly bears the title of the Machete’s editor in chief.

Instead of giving in to the audience lull that usually hits during the summer months (Piatt points out that it’s hard to compete with a day at the beach), the show will use the time to try out exclusively new talent. Only Chad the Bird, the Machete’s puppet pundit (handled by Josh Zagoren) will remain as a representative of veteran talent; everyone else will take the stage with the show for the first time. “The way around my small-house depression is to add an exciting fear factor,” Piatt says.

The experiment won’t be as drastic as it sounds. Because of its timely nature, the show is built from scratch each week anyway—this month it’ll just be built from scratch by a group of people who aren’t as familiar with what they’re building. But that didn’t seem to slow down the fresh meat at the July 26 show. First timers Candy Lawrence and Sean Patton shone as an old lady whose laptop exploded and an impassioned hater of Ray Rice and college football, respectively. Veterans Chad the Bird (as always) and Pete Lee balanced out the day, but those two, along with Adam Peacock, Marlena Rodriguez, and Chelsea Devantez, proved that in this setting, what’s new can easily be funny and exciting.

This Saturday kicks off the official Fresh Meat month with performances from Julia DiFerdinando and Chris Woolsey, Kathleen Gibson, Shantira Jackson, Brian McGovern, Tommy McNamara, Phil Ridarelli, and Janna Sobel. Keeping equality in mind, there will be an even split of male and female performers throughout the series. While it is the first time for everyone (except the musical guests), Piatt hopes it won’t be the last. Over the course of the month he wants to foster new relationships and talents to add to the ever-growing Paper Machete family. “Experimentation is built into our model,” says Piatt. “Now seems like a good time to experiment with new people.”

The Paper Machete, 3 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway,, free.