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If ever a man deserved a Genius Award, it's John Osebold. I first saw him perform a solo parody of the entire Shakespeare canon when we were both in college. I'll never forget one of the jokes: he was playing somebody auditioning for Hamlet and solemnly delivered part of the "to be or not to be" speech:

For who bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong,the proud man’s contumely,
The pang of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear...

Then he broke down in titters and said "... what's a fartle?" The audience fell apart in laughter.

Even though the Genius Awards hadn't even been invented yet, I knew I was watching genius—it wasn't so much in the text of the joke, but in the delivery. It landed with equal parts smartness and a silliness, an intellectual playfulness that would define Osebold's work for the next decade.

Since then, Osebold has made tons of great work: the comedy/performance-art band "Awesome"; his work with sketch-comedy group The Habit; his self-released, bedroom-recorded music. But his recent work as Jose Bold—Spidermann, Mountain—put him over the top.

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And niceness is not a criteria for the Genius Awards, but it must be said—Osebold is one of the nicest people you'll ever meet. When we met him with his cake at Bauhaus, he looked a little unsettled and said, "Are you sure you want to give this to me?" When we assured him we hadn't accidentally given him a Genius Award, he said that when he first saw the cake, he thought he'd forgotten something: "I thought maybe it's my birthday!"

You'll be hearing a lot more about John Osebold as we draw closer to the Genius Awards party, which is on Friday, September 16, at the Moore. Find out more about the Stranger Genius Awards, the party, and how to donate to these annual $5,000 arts grants for five Seattle artists here.