Meet the Nerds

Much like the Justice League, the Avengers, or even the West Coast Avengers, The Nerdologues has seen many iterations over the years. We have seen members come and go, and sometimes come back again, but one thing remains constant: we’re always doin’ stuff. Whether it be performing, writing, teching, or directing, these are the members that are currently active in one form or another - or, more likely, “all of the above.”

Ensemble Members

Eric Garneau currently holds down the title of Nerdiest Job in the Nerdologues, as he manages the comic book operations of Niles, IL's Pastimes, the Midwest's largest Magic: the Gathering store. He also works as a freelance writer and editor who sometimes ponders pop culture stuff like Batman and Bruce Springsteen. Some things he's especially nerdy about include: grammar, rock and roll, Grant Morrison, and Transformers.

Chris is one of the founding members of The Nerdologues, as well as a super fun good time guy. Originally hailing from the wintry Deep South, Chris found Chicago's change in climate both appealing and welcome (lie), as well as a new home in its far reaching comedy traditions (true!). Since arriving by himself in the city years ago in a bright yellow car with everything he owned in it, Chris has worked with countless groups and performers, as well as trained at some of the city's finest institutions, including The Second City Conservatory. With The Nerdologues, he has traveled across the country, from coast to coast, spreading the peaceful message of nerdy good cheer. He currently works as a producer, writer, and director for The Public House Theatre.

Video games, comic books, and mid-to-late-1980’s films starring former cast members of Saturday Night Live. Joe grew up in little Streetsboro, OH, with these things to provide sustenance and inform his life view. Without a desire to follow any particular career path, high-school-senior Joe decided he should study theatre, attending the University of Mount Union. Then college-senior Joe took a spring break trip to sunny Chicago and fell in love with the improv scene. He moved there shortly after graduation, where he studied at iO Chicago and The Second City. In addition to being a Nerdologist, Joe performs with iO Harold team “Big Spoon,” and can be found performing sweaty stand-up in various dark corners of Chicago.

Jando doesn't have the time to write a bio so Chris wrote his for him. He is a cool dude, has done some things around the city that people thought were funny, and was even on some improv teams some times. He trained at a few places, Chris thinks, but he can't remember which ones he did and when, or in what order, but he's sure they were good experiences. When he's not doing stuff with the Nerdologues, he does stuff in the 'burbs or whatever, Chris doesn't know, Chris is not the boss of him. 

Katie Johnston-Smith' obsession with Tom Hanks worries her mother. As a Pittsburgh native, she grew up encouraged to intensely love the things she loves in a loyal and bleeding-heart manner, for the entire world can be painted in black and gold (and it mostly is... right?).  After graduating from Belmont University (Nashville), Katie moved to Chicago to further study comedy.  You may recognize her from her roles in Attend The Tale Of Danny Tanner: A Full House Musical (DJ Tanner/ co-writer), Cupid Has A Heart On (ensemble), The Second City Training Center’s Musical Improv/ Sketch House Ensemble Infinite Sundaes/ Song Co (ensemble), The Verse: Another Firefly Story(Katie Fly), The Dude Abides (Waitress/ Pingirl), Musical Of The Living Dead (Fran), or that production of Fiddler on the Roof (all but Tevye) she and her cousins did in her grandparent's back yard.  She is also the founder of the Chicago Nerd Comedy Festival.   Follow her on Twitter/ Instagram @GenericBrunette!

Kevin Reader, creator of the Nerdologues reigns supreme. He is your overlord. After training for years and Mastering Theatre at the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign he traversed north. Chicago is where his armor was forged. He sharpened his steel blade by training and performing at iO, Second City, and the Annoyance. He continues rule over Chicago by producing, directing and writing for the The Public House Theatre. Kneel before him.

Mary Beth grew up letting her straight A's in school and a penchant for community theatre define her until she attended the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science & Math, where pretty much everyone had gotten straight A's in school. She became known among her nerdy peers as a performer. At Furman University, she leaned into this passion, acting with the theatre arts department and joining the improv troupe while earning a degree in chemistry. There's probably a parallel universe where she went to graduate school for forensic science instead of moving to Chicago after graduation. She is the business manager of a chromatography training lab for scientists & lawyers by day, but by night she performs improv weekly at the Annoyance theatre with her team Sight Unseen and periodically with Cards Against Humanity Live. She also hosts a weekly podcast MBSing and co-produces The Probe.

Twitter/Instagram: @TheTokenGinger
Contact: MaryBeth.Smith1165 [at]

Emeritus Members

Those in The Nerdologues consider this group more than collaborators, or even friends - we are family. These are the aunts and uncles that have moved to Florida after putting in 40-plus years at the factory. Their contributions will always be valued, just as we hope they treasure the gold watch we gave them before they left. (By the way, your 401(k) is depleted) Thank you!

  • Andrew Bentley
  • Caitlin Costello
  • Claire Friedman
  • Bill Kenkel
  • Steve Persch
  • Alex Talavera
  • John Thibodeaux
  • Kevin Walsh

Honorary Members

Amidst their faux-hatred of each other, Dwight and Shelby share a special bond. In recognition of their contributions to Your Stories and the important roles they play in The Nerdologues community, they are honorary members of The Nerdologues (with none of the rights and privileges therein).

Dwight David Haesler was born in Florida, Missouri on November 30, 1835. He was the son of Jane, a native of Kentucky, and John Marshall Clemens, a Virginian by birth. His parents met when his father moved to Missouri and were married several years later, in 1823. He was the sixth of seven children, but only three of his siblings survived childhood: his brother Orion, Henry, who died in a riverboat explosion, and Pamela. His sister Margaret died when he was three, and his brother Benjamin died three years later. Another brother, Pleasant, died at six months. Haesler was born two weeks after the closest approach to Earth of Halley's Comet. He can also bench 500 pounds and constantly volunteers to help the less fortunate. Well, when he's not singing with Cover Stories at our monthly Your Stories event.

Shelby is the first honorary member of the Nerdologues (with none of the rights and privileges therein). She's a cinch to spot despite being short, thanks to her loud laugh and tattoos. In the last five years, she has lived in three different states, now residing in Dayton, Ohio and working on her masters degree in theology. Though not serious comedian in any right, Shelby has been performing since she was young. She's also been a nerd since childhood, as evidenced by her desire as a seven year old to go to MIT to study chemistry. She shyly wandered into a Your Stories event in October of 2012 and became a regular storyteller until she shipped off to Ohio a year later. She visits Chicago regularly and eagerly tells stories to her Nerdologues family whenever she is home. (Also, as it is clear from the podcast, Dwight Haesler is her comrade in honorary Nerdologuedom and also her mortal enemy.)