I recently became aware of a project called “Notes From Chris,” which is a series of notes left around New York by a curmudgeonly, lonely dude who can’t seem to keep his cats alive. Chris leaves notes all around New York trying to get people to meet up with him for one reason or another; he needs a ride to “Starbuck,” he wants to get a beer with some fellow golfers, he needs someone to tell him what’s wrong with his cat (but no amateurs, please). In a city where everyone’s always busy, Chris just wants to hang.
Chris isn’t real, though — he’s a figment of writer and comedian Todd Lamb‘s imagination. I sat down with Todd recently to talk about Chris’s story and what’s next for him:
Runnin Scared: How long have you been doing “Notes From Chris”?
Todd Lamb: It’s been like three years now. I started in 2008. The first one was at a bus stop in Park Slope.
I carry a folder of them with me. Wherever I go, whether I’m running errands or going to work, I bring them.
Whats the idea behind making up a fictional character like Chris?
Really it’s — I write comedy, so I like characters. I just thought the idea of a character with tons of problems who wants to meet you to do extremely tedious things is funny. And the added part is, he kills his cats all the time. He’s just a lonely guy with one name. A little like Cher.
In all the notes, Chris asks people to meet up with him at 4 p.m. Does anyone ever show up?
I don’t know, because I’ve only tried to show up one time. That’s probably the most frequent question I get. Do people show up at four o’clock?
I had interest from some TV people to show up and document if people come — that’s not really the goal. I think it’d be interesting to see, but the goal is more just to like put jokes around New York. Everything is a venue: trees, signposts, bus stops, anything.
You also do stand-up and stuff?
I do stand-up, readings, I just did one at Greenlight Books in Fort Greene. I also freelance as a writer.
Do you leave the notes everywhere?
I leave them wherever I go. If I’m running errands in Manhattan, I leave them there. It’s just a matter of what I have to do on a particular day. Chris will go there.
Tell me about the Chris character.
I feel like a lot of New Yorkers are in their own little world, whatever that world is. I wanted to see if I could break them out of that. For Chris, all he wants to do is meet up with people, because he’s not busy. He’s the opposite of all these New Yorkers who are booked solid throughout the day, and even if they had free time, they wouldn’t want to meet up with you.
Chris has lots of time and is wiling to meet you for the most mundane things. And no one wants to do those things except Chris. Like, Chris wants to eat some Fritos and move a mattress. He just wants soda, snacks, and your time.
What else will you do with him?
I’m interested in doing a book of these things — telling Chris’s story through these notes. I just think as a comedic character, he has so much potential.
Is there a narrative to him?
I wouldn’t say there’s like a story arc, but I would say the notes are getting progressively more absurd. He started off just wanting to meet new people, but now his ideas for meeting people are getting more far-fetched. For the Super Bowl, Chris wanted to be with people because he was starting a new NFL team and he was interviewing for the coach. He was gonna choose someone based on what sweater they were wearing.
What’s next for you?
This concept as a TV idea or a book idea, maybe. But this is just one of the ideas I’ve been brewing.
They’re secrets right now, but I think they’ll be funny.
I was looking at your website and I found a bunch of drawings. They’re funny. The Salt n’ Pepa salt and pepper shakers should be sold somewhere.
They need to be.
Do you want to draw something for me?
Okay, draw me something funny.
I may need a second.
That’s another thing that needs to exist.
So do you consider yourself more of an artist or a comedian?
Oh, I’m not an artist. Honestly most street art just annoys me. If I were to get lumped in with Banksy? Or something? I would probably just stop doing it. I’m a comedian — my goal is to make people laugh.