Jesse Landis-Eigsti has worn many hats in the past few years due to his persistent inability to hold on to articles of clothing for longer than a few weeks. It’s not that he is chronically disorganized*; rather, Landis-Eigsti is obsessive in his passions to the extent that details such as hangers and laundry fall by the wayside. His pursuits are myriad; he loves funny songs, humor and satire, improvisation, websites, online comics, teaching, and the thrill of conducting an original piece.
The biggest problem with this list, of course, is its breadth; Landis-Eigsti has the unfortunate tendency to vacillate between his projects like a fly at picnic. As a result, a number of projects (a symphonic poem about dinosaurs, a graphic novel mystery, a song-writing website) have failed to get off the ground, at least at the time of this writing.
When his experiments do come together, however, they are typically marked with a degree of playfulness and humor that make them awfully hard to hate, even if they lack the discipline of more focused artists. His comic opera, I Fratelli Mario, combined string quartets with 8-bit motifs in a short but witty send-up of both opera and video game tropes. Humor also buoyed the band, Happy Camper & the Bees, in which Landis-Eigsti was keyboardist and vocalist; his contributions such as “Rejection,” “Sirens,” and “Cake Dolphins” demonstrate his knack for making a crowd laugh as they get his tunes stuck in their head.
As a writer, Landis-Eigsti served as a frequent contributor to the Goshen College Record’s Funnies page, eventually serving as Funnies Editor his senior year. He was also part of the creative team behind The Blender News, a weekly satire paper that poked fun at events, trends and institutions in the Goshen Community. At its best, Landis-Eigsti’s work combines a love of words and language with an exuberant silliness. At its worse, his prose can be prolix and self-disparaging with an over-reliance on meta-humor, though at least Landis-Eigsti has the grace to admit this.
A person, of course, must be evaluated by more than just their creative output. What sort of person is this Jesse Landis-Eigsti? In many respects, he fits into the clichés expected of liberal arts majors in their mid-twenties. He is simultaneously idealistic and prone to bouts of cynical defeatism. He is generous with his friends and family yet hesitant to make real sacrifices for the causes that he theoretically espouses.* Landis-Eigsti frequently uses his sense of humor, the cornerstone of so many of his creative projects, to distract others (and himself) from his lack of direction or purpose.
Still, a true sense of purpose is rare among twenty-four year olds. At this juncture, direction may be less important than basic kindness and compassion, which Landis-Eigsti, for all his faults, values greatly. And though many of his creative projects still have the trivial immaturity of youth (or, to compensate, an overabundance of condescension and snobbery), if Landis-Eigsti wasn’t writing, the world wouldn’t have such gems as “Sir Edwin Darius.” Any dude who writes a medieval rap ballad about an insecure knight that rhymes “Darius,” “various,” “nefarious,” “precarious,” “scariest,” and “wary yet?” can not be an entirely bad dude.
*It’s not entirely that.
*He has a car now, and his “vegetarianism” now means that he won’t eat his least-favorite cuts of beef if he doesn’t feel like it.