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Jeffrey Essmann was a fixture on the New York downtown performance scene in the 80s/early 90s, known primarily as a character comedian whose work was compared to that of Lily Tomlin. His one-man show, "Artificial Reality," at New York Theatre Workshop was nominated for a Drama Desk Award, and his early work can be seen on the video New Wave Comedy and the alternative-comedy show The Talent Pool. His cult hit, "Triplets in Uniform," at La MaMa marked his transition to play writing and a decreasing focus on performance. In the throes of a premature midlife crisis, Essmann left New York in the early 90s for a 10-year stint in Chicago, where he focused on journalistic and literary journal work as well as play writing. His retirement from performance lasted a couple years, and then he began working on new material at local clubs and fringe theatre festivals. He was a featured performer in a performance series at Steppenwolf and became a regular contributor to the Chicago NPR affiliate. He returned to New York in 2005, the same year his short piece, "Johannes, Pyotr & Marge," was produced at the Humana Festival, where it also won the Heideman Prize. His one-man show, "Skin Deep," was commissioned by Dixon Place as part of its HOT! Festival in 2006, which, along with another one-man show a year later. "The Usual Freak Show" at La MaMa marked his return to the New York theatre scene. He did a new translation of Brecht’s "Life of Galileo" for Manhattan Theatre Club and is currently working on a new play, "The Indifferent Narrator." Life on the List is his first book.