Meet the Team


Bitter Jester Foundation for the Arts:

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Nicolas DeGrazia
Artistic Director

Nicolas DeGrazia is a six-time Emmy award-winning writer, producer, and director.  He is the co-founder and Creative Director of Bitter Jester Studios, a television/web content production company with clients including Nike, United Airlines, the American Medical Association, the US Postal Service, and Ravinia.  Nicolas is also a James Beard Award nominee, a sketch comedian with The Comic Thread (Best Group: LA Comedy Festival, Audience Choice: Chicago Fringe Fest), has a sandwich named after him(!), and is the Founder and Producer of the Bitter Jester Music Festival, which he also Co-Emcees.

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Daniel D. Drake
Executive Director

Daniel began his tenure with the Battle of the Bands when he was the Production Manager for the 2010 Battle of the Bands Grand Finale. He instantly fell in love with the event and continued acting as Production and Stage Manager for the event until 2016 when he founded The Bitter Jester Foundation for the Arts with Nic, when he became the Executive Director for the Foundation. Daniel continues his role as Production Manager for the Music Festival. Daniel is a freelance Stage Manager and Production Manager for live theatre in Chicago and additional information can be found at


Bitter Jester Music Festival:


Christy Knapp
Director of Audience Services
Bitter Jester Music Festival

Christy Knapp is a volunteer team member of the Bitter Jester Music Festival focused on audience relations. An educator by trade, Christy is a teacher at Bartlett Academy of Math, Science, and High Technology in the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) program teaching engineering.

Behind-the-scenes, Christy also helps coordinate and organize the Bitter Jester Music Festival as well as oversees the audience raffles. Her daughter, Maggie, volunteers for the festival during the summers as well.


Michael Tseitlin
Performance Advisor
Bitter Jester Music Festival

A former competitor in the Bitter Jester Music Festival (2012-15) and three-time 3rd Place winner with his band, The Ska-lers, Michael now serves as our official “Performance Advisor.” In this role, he records real-time commentary and feedback to the bands as they compete in their preliminary concerts. His recorded feedback is then provided to bands immediately after the concerts conclude. While this critique is non-numerical (i.e. he is not a judge on the Friday nights), bands will be able to incorporate his suggestions should they wish. Michael then serves on our seven person judging panel for the 4th of July Grand Finale.

The Comic Thread Sketch Comedy Troupe & The Purple Shirts Live Short Story Readings:

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Dr. Matt Birnholz
The Comic Thread

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Nurse Mark Sheahen
Technical Director/Stage Manager
The Comic Thread

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Dr. Charles Turck
The Comic Thread

Interested in joining our team? Click here to send us an email!