Meet all the incredible people who bring The Critshow to your ears every week! Read about the characters – both IRL and in-game – who strive to delight and entertain you. Peruse the whole page, or use the links to skip directly to your favorite (we know you don’t have a favorite… but you totally have a favorite).
- Jake the Player, Jake the Protector, and Cherry Bomb
- Tass the Player and Tass the Chosen
- Teej the Player, Teej the Monstrous, and The Cucumbrance
- Rev and First Vine
- The Production Team
The Protector (Other Side of the Coin)
Cherry Bomb (Hero Salad)
Jake: The Player
Jake has spent much of his life trying to become a superhero. To that end, he’s spent a tremendous amount of his time studying – watching Justice League cartoons, reading Spider-Man books, playing Marvel Heroes. Things kicked up a notch in college when he began studying criminal justice and martial arts, and went even further when he took a position teaching the latter. But finally, after a lifetime of dedication and singular pursuit… he makes a podcast where he and his friends play tabletop RPGs. See, somewhere along the lines, things got blurry. He accidentally became interested in a slew of other media, from World of Warcraft to Supernatural to Elder Scrolls to Harry Potter. He picked up hobbies like writing, making music, and costuming. Then a certain Keeper invited him to play Earthdawn; and a dozen Pathfinder, D&D, World of Darkness, and Monster of the Week games later, as both player and game master, here we are. Fun fact: among the show’s cast, Jake is the one who is not and has never been an actor. He does his best to keep his head above water and be as entertaining as his co-hosts – and he did make the theme song, so at least he’s pulling his weight.
Jake: The Protector
Jake is a defender above all. His primary motivation is to protect others, and, to the best of his ability, he does so equally. Although skilled in violence, Jake is a lover. He looks for nonviolent means as much as possible, whether that’s protective magic or just some good old-fashioned smooth talking. When necessary, though, he’s a heavy hitter and pretty good at it. He’s a capable armed combatant at all ranges, and the occasional burst of super strength means he’s no slouch empty-handed, either. Jake believes that “with great power, there must also come great responsibility.” Using the abilities he has, he works to protect the innocent, stop (or convert) monsters, and fight evil in all forms. He stands as the shield that guards mankind.
Cherry Bomb (Sindr) is a young woman from the planet Larkin, an advanced but insular world. Born of a relatively wealthy and important family, Cherry decided to disappoint everyone by visiting Earth. She made this choice not because she had great aspirations, but simply because she was curious. It wasn’t until spending some time on Earth that her abilities (which manifest to a small degree on her home planet) revealed their potency. Realizing she had these incredible powers, and seeing the conditions that plagued this world her planet all but spit on, she decided it was time to do some good. Cherry joined the Hero Syndicate and took quickly to her now best friend, Tussler. Cherry has an unwavering sense of optimism and an (often annoyingly) unyielding sense of right and wrong. These characteristics (in EQUAL MEASURE) are what make her a crucial member of the team.
The Chosen (Other Side of the Coin)
Game Master (Hero Salad)
Tass: The Player
Tass did not just adopt the nerd; he was born into it, molded by it. From his early days of collecting books such as Goosebumps and Animorphs to advancing up to Tolkien epics, Dragonlance and even writing his own stories, he has always had the majority of his mind firmly locked into fiction of one kind or another. The more fantastical, the better. He managed to wait all the way until college before ever trying a tabletop RPG. Rev talked him into trying Earthdawn, and he has been hooked ever since. While he was learning more about these types of games, he was also in school for acting, getting a bachelor’s degree in performing arts. He was able to make good use of his training in improvisation and performance to enhance his characters and storytelling, whether it was on the page or with a set of dice with friends. With these friends, he was able to traverse many worlds and stories. Tabletop games included Earthdawn, Fading Suns, D&D, Pathfinder, and more, most recently adding Monster of the Week to that list. On top of that, you could almost always find him role-playing in MMORPGs such as City of Heroes/Villains, World of Warcraft, Tera, and Champions Online. Tass is very much a creature of other realms, and he can’t wait to share these realms with you.
Tass: The Chosen
Tass got himself into this mess because he thought slaying monsters would be… simpler. Silver bullets and stakes, isn’t that all you need? Boy was he wrong, but that isn’t going to stop him. If there’s one thing he can’t abide, it’s a bully, and monsters are the kind of bullies that eat folks. Tass is the Scrappy Doo of the team, in that sometimes his mouth works a little faster than his strategic mind. As long as the ultimate goal is achieved, to keep people safe, he is more than willing to make sure the crosshairs of the enemy are locked onto himself. He knows that no hero is perfect, but a hero must at least be able to act under pressure. To make the hard choice when others might be too afraid. To stand up and face the enemy, even when the odds are impossible.
The Monstrous (Other Side of the Coin)
The Cucumbrance (Hero Salad)
Teej: The Player
Transformers, Atari, Bionic Six, The Centurians, Here Come the Littles: these are words that Teej understands. He began his geekdom in the strange land of Cali-For-Neeya when he first discovered the Saturday Morning Cartoon. He believes in the Don Bluth animated films and desires only the downfall of the Zarconian Empire. After leaving California, he moved to… California again. Cartoons became better – now Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Nintendo were his cup of tea. The Mushroom Kingdom wasn’t going to save itself. Then the Hobbit. MY EVER LOVING, ELUVATAR! THE HOBBIT! It was the moment Teej decided he would live his life in comfort… and in a hole in the ground. So he dug himself a nice wet hole in a pile of mud and slopped himself inside and aged and landed in South Carolina, where he read his first Tolkien and fell forever in love with everything Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Tom Bombadil, and don’t forget The Silmarillion. In high school Teej found his calling in theater, and in college he sharpened his acting and improv skills. When he’s not working as a Team Lead at a world famous publishing company, he’s geeking out hard on Xbox with his three compadres. His new obsession is Parks and Rec and the newest iteration of Voltron on Netflix.
Teej: The Monstrous
Teej was born in Hawaii, so it’s no small wonder he has a warm attitude of life. His parents moved around a lot, having been in the Air-Force, and Teej got to see many mechanical and technological miracles in his time. He got to hang with a lot of engineers, and he picked up a few things. It’s wasn’t until he received his first LEGO set that Teej found he could put things together in a rather timely manner. His science fair projects always won first place, but then Teej discovered girls and his mind wandered from his true calling. Eventually, as most people do, he second guessed his abilities and discovered he also had a knack for theater, which is where he met Tass, Rev, and eventually Jake. It wasn’t until their supernatural encounter at The Halifax that Teej’s true potential re-emerged.
It all began with that damn cult. The Cult of Aluvia, the goddess of dreams and splendor. The goddess of illusion. Her beauty matched no other, because that is what she wanted you to see. Or at least, that’s what the cult wanted Greg to see. A life of peace and prosperity. Of dreams fulfilled. The great promises of life, all at her beck and call, and she did this all for Greg. Or that’s what he thought. Till the day of his transcendence from normal guy to the avatar of Aluvia. As he climbed the illusionary dais he saw his true love, Alison, before him. They vowed to each other, unaware that one was in pleasure, the other in truest of pain. When it was over, Greg woke in a cave, surrounded by death. It was then that the Hero Syndicate entered the cave hearing tell of a ritual that needed stopping. Only, it was too late. Greg had become the Encumbrance – and after the Vegening, he would be none other than The Cucumbrance!
Producer/Editor (Other Side of the Coin, Hero Salad, Investigate the History)
Game Master (Other Side of the Coin)
First Vine (Hero Salad)
Co-Host (Investigate the History)
Rev was raised on comic books. You’re probably thinking what an awful thing to feed a child and you’re right, just look how he turned out. He started playing video games at the age of 6, and playing Earth Dawn at 16. That’s the same age he got into acting, I might add, which he then went to college for – twice! Not only does he have an undergrad degree in theatre from Indiana State, but he also has a Master’s degree in acting from the University of Georgia. He continues to read comics, plays tabletop RPGs, plays video games, he even got into cosplay a few years ago. You may recognize Rev’s (or Brandon, if you wanna use his muggle name) voice from some of his work with EarPlay, where he is a voice over artist and casting director working on projects for such intellectual properties as Jurassic World, Mr. Robot, Pugmire, and many others (all available on Alexa… if you’re into that kind of thing).
Rev has been a freelance actor and voice over artist for almost 18 years, and a nerd his whole life. In late 2016 he decided he wanted to combine those two sides, and that’s how we find ourselves here – the slow burn dedication of a man with the right mix of ambition and insomnia. When not working on the podcast or doing other voice-related projects, Rev works with Crossroads Repertory Theatre where he is the Associate Artistic Director and Journey Indiana on WFIU where he cohosts the bi-monthly show; but mostly he hangs out with me, his dog Harvey, who for some unknown reason he decided to teach to type. I think he just really hated writing bios… but, he keeps me in cuddles and greenies, so it’s a fair trade off.
First Vine (The First Line of Defense) grew up in Guardian City and felt a connection with it long before he was given powers from his predecessor. David spent most of his time as a kid down the streets, at the store fronts, and in the parks. He always admired the heroes, but that was a whole other part of the city – a part he assumed he’d never have much contact with. His surprise and confusion at being picked as the new protector of the city (as well as his lack of formal training from his predecessor) has created a prince and the pauper scenario: street smart kid with a street level sense of right and wrong among some of the most powerful people on the planet. While his tactics and skill may not match up to the previous First Line, there is little doubt that David’s ability to see things from the everyday citizen’s point of view will make him a unique protector of Guardian City; one who sees himself standing next to those he’s protecting, not above them.
The folks that keep this place together
Investigate the History Co-Host
Carolyn has been in love with theatre, acting, and literature since she first played a tooth in a 3-grade school play. It was the role of a lifetime. Once she discovered like-minded nerds as an undergrad, this introverted Hufflepuff never left the libraries, stages, and lecture halls of academia. Carolyn directs plays, and teaches classes in acting, directing, Theatre history, and dramatic literature. Carolyn is thrilled to be able to partner with one of her very best friends and stage-partners, Rev (btw, Rev, TJ, Tass, and Carolyn all met when they were 19, so the nerdery is deeply rooted), to examine all the literature, folklore, history, and mythology that makes up the world of The Critshow. When she isn’t working or doing research, she is probably watching Bob’s Burgers, looking up recipes she’ll never make, or wasting hours watching cat videos online, all the fast-paced excitement you’d image. As a Professor of Theatre, professional actor and dramaturg, and an author, her primary focus is in exploring new ways to improve and expand the creative classroom, and she is currently writing a book with a colleague from Michigan State University about Introverted Actors, coming out in spring 2020!! Yes…actors can be introverts. There are a lot of us, and Carolyn might just be the Introvertedest. Ask Rev. If a party starts after 8pm, he knows not to invite her. She ain’t getting out of those pajama pants and leaving her kittykat for anything! Introverted Nerds Unite!!
Nyx mostly has her father to thank for her nerdery, who brought her up on Star Trek and Doctor Who as well as a heavy dose of educational programs like Nova. He was later the one who taught her to build her own computers, which she still does to this day. Nyx’s childhood also involved obsessions with Labyrinth and The Neverending Story, as well as voraciously devouring books such as A Wrinkle In Time (you might think her last name, Tesseract, is an MCU reference, but it’s actually a nod to the adventures of Meg Murray and company). Being so fully immersed in story her entire life led Nyx to pursue a career that has always involved telling compelling stories in one form or another. She went to college for musical theatre and her alter ego, Tobi, is now a freelance actor, director, and music director in Chicago. She has been a headshot and theatre photographer for over a decade, and more recently has expanded into cosplay photography as well – mostly just as an excuse to attend more cons and do her own cosplay. And of course, she tells her clients’ stories through marketing and web design, having built this very site you’re visiting.
Social Media Manager
Raised on books, musicals, and spooky films, Rachel grew up in the presence of many fantastical, magical worlds. Since living in those worlds was impossible, she opted for the next best thing: going into the theatre. She had to give up acting a number of years ago, but her love for bringing characters to life transformed into something else: Cosplay. In fact, that’s how she came to be a part of our team! You can sometimes catch sight of her haunting cons in the state of Florida. Though, good luck finding her, she’s a bit of a chameleon. Rachel holds a Bachelor’s in Professional Communication from Florida State University and has been a one-woman social media graphic factory since 2015. When she’s not screaming at Photoshop and stock image sites or cheating at Mario Kart, you might find her traipsing around Disney World and Universal Studios.
Photographer / Purveyor of Critshow merch
Wes (aka The Portrait Dude) grew up with a love of comic books, video games, books, movies and all things nerdy. In college he found a love for drumming and graphic design as hobbies, but it wasn’t until his early thirties that he picked up his first camera and found he had an eye for photography. YouTube and a LOT of trial and error became his teachers as he worked to develop his own unique style of shooting, and what started as a joke practice shoot with a friend who dressed as Batman in the fall of 2013 ended up being a life-changing evening. He went to his first convention shortly thereafter and dove headfirst into the cosplay community. Wes’ work has been internationally published in books such as Cosplay World, Cosplay Culture, and iCosplay to name a few. Recently, he has a cosplay-focused photography studio in Columbus, OH and travels providing cosplay coverage for numerous conventions and publications across the United States including the C2E2 Crown Championships of Cosplay both in 2018 and 2019 for ReedPop, private and public meet and greets with Stan Lee’s team, and many other conventions. Wes loves to shoot everyone from experienced to first time cosplayers and uses light and flash techniques to show them in camera how amazing they look, with the goal of his shoots being to make people feel more confident both in and out of their cosplay and help them believe in themselves more. (fistbump)