David English is not unemployed, but he used to be. And once a month, he likes to talk about it.
A Garfield resident, English studied puppetry at West Virginia University. Now, at 32, he hosts a comedic, late-night, live-streaming talk show about lay-offs, life behind a desk, and that pesky dissonance between seeking a job and finding one's true calling.
The Unemployment Show, a new project of Waffle Shop: A Reality Show, began when English met Jon Rubin, an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon who teaches a class in which students create experimental public art projects.
Waffle Shop, a diner-style eatery opened through Rubin's class, has remained in business for almost two years on its corner of Baum and Highland, in East Liberty. Each Friday and Saturday, from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m., passers-by stumble in for a gooey treat and are invited to participate in an open talk show that is recorded and produced into a weekly webcast. Topics have ranged from Jimi Hendrix lyrics to pineapples, broke boyfriends to cannibalistic apes.
But now, the first Friday of each month, as part of Penn Avenue's Unblurred gallery crawl, the Waffle Shop opens its doors for an hour to English and his unemployed masses.
English, an active local artist, has landed a number of miscellaneous jobs but always stumbles back to his artistic roots.
"I've had a turbulent career past," he explains by phone from his new bartending gig in Lawrenceville. "Eventually I decided I really hate office jobs. But art doesn't pay the bills, so I needed to come up with something."
In each Unemployment Show, English presents sketch comedy, musical performances, and a lineup of off-beat experts on employment, or the lack thereof. The second monthly installment takes the stage Fri., July 2, and includes guests such as Three Rivers Arts Festival's "Best in Show" artist Deanna Mance; Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate Mel Packer; Some Kind of Circus Project's fire-breathing escape artist Dave Doyle; and musical guest Middle Children.
The Waffle Shop (www.waffleshop.org) is at 124 S. Highland Ave., East Liberty.