DEXTER: Obsessed Ep 71

Comedian and writer Brock Wilbur is obsessed with the TV show Dexter. Wrap your home in plastic and thrill to such light fun discussion topics as serial killers, being a jerk on twitter, magic murder amulets, creative swearing, and Flordia! Fun! Also, did you know there’s a Dexter rap? I’m sorry, but there is.

Thanks as always to Molly Lewis for our theme song!

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Beer, Burgers, and The Future

Beer Burgers and the Future

To me, the Super Bowl commercials are like a cultural state of the union.

My initial reaction to the picture painted of modern America this year was: We are afraid of death and we want to fuck our cars.

I think the subtextual messages of the commercials are important because I think those ideas are more lasting than the actual commercial message. For many of the spots, if you happen to look away at literally the last two seconds of the commercial you will have NO IDEA WHAT WAS BEING ADVERTISED.

You’ll just be awash in a montage of the Grand Canyon, beer, small children, breasts, puppies, Liam Neeson, expensive cars being driven by the ghost of your disappointed father, and if you’re me, a sudden desire to move to Canada.

One theme I was affected by was the desire for kindness and human connection.

Coke’s ad featured a plot of strange soda-based cyber terrorism in which some sugar water infects the internet and instead of corroding the enamel from our teeth through wi-fi signals, Coke sends messages of kindness.

McDonald’s ad showed customers paying for their breakfast burritos with hugs which is apparently a real campaign. I applaud the sentiment, but I’m terrified by the reality. I don’t eat at McDonald’s but if I did I would want a six piece chicken McNugget with honey mustard sauce and a huge helping of emotional distance.

Still, it was an interesting trend. A reflection of forward movement. Coke and McDonald’s, two of the largest corporations in the world, paid millions of dollars to air what was basically a CRY FOR HELP.

We are longing for more human connection and I’m going to do my best to help with that by sitting alone in my home and tweeting about it.

Anyway, the commercials that affected me the most were two commercials that advanced stupid, outdated gender ideas: Carl, Jr’s ad for burgers and objectification and Budweiser’s attack on craft beer and the educated wimps who drink it.

The two commercials resonated for me because of our current cultural discussions about feminism. Particularly, the idea that knocking down old, horrible stereotypes about women is also beneficial to men because in the process we’ll also dismantle old, horrible stereotypes about men, too.

The  Carl, Jr. spot was the most offensive ad to me.

HERE’S WHERE I DON’T LINK TO IT BECAUSE I DON’T WANT TO GIVE THEM VIEWS.

Basically, a busty woman in a bikini walks around being gawked at by men. You know, to make you want to fuck eat a cheeseburger. In one shot, a tomato is in the foreground to look like it is the woman’s butt. A hand reaches in and squeezes the tomato. In other words, a woman’s body is the same as a tomato–it is something to be evaluated and consumed.

I grew up with these kinds of images and ideas being the norm. I always understood intellectually they were trying to use natural attraction to the human body to sell stuff, but I’ve come to realize it’s so much more insidious than that. Thanks to shitty, sexist campaigns like that, I grew up with the constant message that I, as a man, should treat women like they were a product and if I did not, I was somehow not a man.

More on my lack of manliness, in a moment!

I think it’s important to say these kinds of messages of objectification are not okay. So, the commercial’s message of evaluation and consumption has worked on me. I’ve evaluated my thoughts and I will never consume anything at Carl’s Jr. When I drive by McDonald’s, I will think of a weird, desperate attempt to get me to call my father. When I drive by Carl’s, Jr. I’ll just think, “Hey, fuck you, Carl’s, Jr.”

AND NOW, IN ALL CAPS, MY MANLINESS.

There’s been a lot of excellent dissection of Budweiser’s anti-craft beer commercial.

ALSO NOT LINKED TO HERE.

The ad was very new in its confrontation of the divide between craft beer and traditional “sad dad juice in a bottle” beers like Budweiser. But that ad kicked it old school when it comes to reinforcing stupid gender stereotypes about masculinity.

The ad portrayed people who enjoy craft beer as wimps. According to the words and images in the commercial, here are things that sissy craft beer men do: They fuss, they sip, they dissect, they drink fruity peach beers, they wear glasses, and sometimes they tweet a nice thing to a male friend and don’t even hashtag it #NoHomo.

Okay, that last thing wasn’t in the ad.

Here are the words and images associated with real men who drink Budweiser: Hard, wood, axes, horses, tradition, strong forearms, big pounding horses, throwing a beer to your friend who does not wear glasses and is able to catch the beer without flinching, did I mention horses? Horses being driven by men of authority wearing uniforms?

Seriously, if Budweiser loves horses this much they should just start sponsoring every off-broadway production of Equus.

This commercial, like many other commercials I grew up with, felt like it was mansplaining how I should be a man. The only women seen in this commercial are serving Budweiser, the KING of beers, to men. So not only are the signifiers of HARD, OLD, AXE-WIELDING, FOREARM MUSCLES what I’m supposed to be as a man, they are implicitly not gender neutral attributes.

As much as I reject the casual objectification of women by Carl’s, Jr. I reject the hard-pounding assertion that I am not a man if I don’t drink low ABV canned beer that makes me daydream about riding a big, angry horse.

I grew up letting things like stupid fucking beer and burger commercials tell me what it is to be a man. They are not just commercials. They are reflections of societal norms broadcast to millions of people. Thanks Carl’s Jr. and Budweiser, but I think I’ll decide for myself what makes me a man.

Sometimes, I fuss. Sometimes, I make fast, reckless decisions. Sometimes, I sip. Sometimes, I chug. My forearms are weak and my favorite horse is Rainbow Dash from My Little Pony. I like action movies where Liam Neeson punches ambiguously Eastern-European men and I do push-ups every morning. My weak forearms ache as I type this.

But NONE of these things are gender-specific. Here’s the most important thing about being a man to me right now: I don’t give a damn what it means to be a man. I just want to figure out what attributes matter to being a good human being. The kind of human being who reaches out in friendship and compassion without Coke taking over the internet.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go meet a friend for drinks and pound some Belgian witbier. I have a lot of female friends who can put away craft beer like nobody’s business, so tonight I’ll be drinking #LikeAGirl.

POUNDINGLY,
Joseph

P.S. There was also an ad for Scientology–a massive, well financed, secretive religious organization–that wants you to think for yourself. Thanks, Scientology, I think I will!

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CRAFT BEER: Obsessed Ep 70

Artist, illustrator, and animator Sara Pocock (Comsos, Community) is obsessed with Craft Beer! The drinking of it, the analyzing of it, and the opportunity for socializing! Thrill to such beer tasting sounds as pouring, sipping, attempting to burp off mic and more! PLUS can you spot the exact moment in the podcast where Joseph goes from tipsy to “Jerry Lewis Town”???

And if you’d like to drink along, here are the beers we drank:
Eagle Rock Brewery’s Manifesto!
Eagle Rock Brewery’s Solidarity Black Mild!
Stone Brewing’s Cali!
Allagash’s Curieux!

Cheers!

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ENTOURAGE: Obsessed Ep 69

Charming comedian and Canadian Will Weldon is obsessed with the TV show Entourage even though he pretty much hates it! To the point where we get pretty distracted and talk about Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and superheroes for a while. PLUS: both Joseph and Will mention things that make them cry. Enjoy!

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One Percent of a Good Idea

OnePercentOfAGoodIdea
I want to see major changes in our society. I don’t want those changes to come because of violence. So how do they come?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this because of something a friend of mine said a few years ago during the Occupy Wall Street protests.

My friend said something along the lines of this:

“Historically, cultures that have a very small group of wealthy people controlling the lives of a very large group of poor people only experience true change when there’s a revolution and the rich people get murdered and their heads are put on spikes and stuff.”

My friend is very knowledgable. Even drunk at 3 am in the morning, he can rattle off facts about the French revolution, quotes from James Joyce’s Ulysses, and the names of character actors from obscure episodes of 1960s era Doctor Who that only exist in audio format.

He not only retains facts, he can also apply them to the world around him. For example, he could probably tell you which classic Doctor Who script editor produced the most Joycean episodes of the show. Would it be Terrance Dicks or Robert Holmes? Who knows? My friend, probably.

The point is his observation that class warfare has historically been an actual WAR startled me, but it also made a lot of sense.

I believe America has a serious economic imbalance. A small percent of the population controls the money. The money influences the politics. We’re fighting for things like a livable minimum wage and stopping giant corporations from destroying equal access to the internet. There is still a possibility that Comcast and Time Warner Cable–two of consumers’ most despised companies–will be allowed to merge into one big monster like some awful SyFy movie come to life.

A lot of us would just dump the horrible MegaSharkBadger that is Comcast/Time Warner Cable if we could, but we don’t have a lot of options.

Besides, those companies deliver us the parts of our culture we enjoy–our access to communication and entertainment. They are the gatekeepers to all our cat pictures, tumblr accounts about shipping Harry and Hermione, and phone service to call our cable providers and make futile complaints about the horrible service.

We’re used to not being able to make a dent in the control of giant rich corporations. As a result, I think we’ve become surprisingly docile. Our recent attempts at protests have been met with, to me, a shocking amount of resistance.

Recently, there was a calm, non-violent act of civil disobedience at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota to protest multiple questionable killings of citizens by police officers. Instead of just allowing the protest to happen, the Mall of America decided to double down on every negative stereotype about both malls and America by reacting with riot gear and Orwellian messages on their big screen.

I shared one of the protesters’ photos in this tweet.

A ton of people, some calm and some seething with outrage, tweeted back to inform me that the Mall of America was PRIVATE PROPERTY and thus the protest was illegal.

I’m aware the Mall of America is private property. I’m also aware that sometimes protests need to be held in a space where they will be disruptive in order for the status quo to be challenged. I think the need to discuss unchecked police brutality is more important than a shopper’s mild inconvenience on their way to The Gap.

Regardless of the politics of this particular protest, I was shocked that so many people took a MALL’S SIDE over humans. We’ve become so pacified–so enamored with business as usual–that the rights of an Orange Julius are more sacrosanct than a protest about people’s rights.

Modern day America is a far cry from France in 1789. If peacefully demonstrating in a mall is considered this shocking, then obviously there isn’t going to be a violent uprising.

So why would the small group of people who hold all the financial power fear the people?

We’re not going to rise up and attack. We’re not going to rush the offices of Wal-Mart executives, the predatory lenders that almost destroyed our entire economy, the MegaSharkBadgers at Comcast, etc.

And I’m happy for that. I don’t want violence. I don’t want to see a head on a pike outside of an episode of Game of Thrones and even then it’s a bummer.

But I do want change.

So here is my horrible idea for the problem of the rich, powerful, and greedy:

What if we threatened to punch them, just once, in the crotch?

I know it sounds ridiculous, but hear me out. Right now, America loves the status quo. We will not see a comedy movie unless there is a crotch shot in the trailer. That is the status quo. We also love stories about tough, leathery old men who play by their own rules. That is the status quo.

Let’s embrace the status quo. Let’s get Liam Neeson to act out a real life socio-political action thriller called CROTCH THREAT.

Here’s the trailer:

Liam Neeson walks slowly toward the camera.

The voiceover kicks in.

“They have taken our money. They have taken our respect. They got us addicted to high fructose corn syrup and we can’t even pay the medical bills. Enough is enough. Now, one man, with a special set of skills (mostly crotch punching) is going to take it all back.”

Liam Neeson talks heatedly into a phone:

“Release just a little bit of control, spread the wealth, get out of the political system, or I will look for you, I will find you, and I will punch your crotches.”

Then there’s a fast-cut montage of crotch punching and a lot of the BWAHHHHHM noise from Inception as the voiceover concludes:

“We really only want to do this once, but if we have to, there will be a sequel. And like all sequels, it will be a little bit worse.”

Liam Neeson walks away from a massive explosion, the shrapnel flies across the screen and hits Donald Trump in the crotch.

BAM. THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED.

The rating would be S for Stupid. It’s a stupid idea. I know that.

But if this idea were an actual movie, people would probably go see it because we love stories about fighting the status quo almost as much as we have become resistant to fighting the status quo in real life.

I’m a comedian so I react to my frustration by trying to express it in the language of comedy like proposing something called CROTCH THREAT. A lot of people are taking real action. There are protests. There are petitions. There is knowledgable and intelligent activism on many different issues.

And there are angry, ridiculous blog posts like this. There are snarky tweets. There are facebook diatribes. There are politically loaded pictures of Benedict Cumberbatch on instagram. I don’t think those things are “slacktivism.” I think they are using our amazing tools of instant communication to give legitimate voice to people’s thoughts and opinions. We have France in 1789 beat there.

Every once in a while, someone’s politically loaded cat picture on the internet is going to break through the noise and get someone else to think about the status quo, what changes they would like to see, and what non-violent actions they can take to make a difference.

This blog is one tiny ridiculous metaphorical punch to the crotch of injustice.

That’s as violent as I’m willing to get, but it’s a swing I’m happy to take.

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BUFFY: Obsessed Ep 68

Writer, humorist, and BuzzFeed editor Louis Peitzman shares his love of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Topics include but are not limited to Buffy’s friendship skills, real life monsters, and whether or not it’s possible for a vampire to be un-sexy.

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Top 14 Things I Did in 2014

MyTop14of2014

For the last few years, I’ve been writing down all the things I did that year to remind myself to stop beating myself up for not working hard enough.

I did work hard and do a lot of things this year and I’m going to reward myself with a much shorter, lazier post. Here are 14 things I’m proud of, happy with, and otherwise feel like giving myself a gold star for. For example, I think I deserve a gold star for not giving two shits about ending a sentence on a preposition. These are also not in any particular order. One of the other things I did this year was EMBRACE CHAOS.

Here we go:

1) I moved to Los Angeles. I love the city, I love the weather, it’s good for my comedy career, and it’s fun to live in a place where I can go to the neighborhood grocery store for ice cream and whiskey and see three different character actors who have been murdered by Jack Bauer on 24. Most importantly, I have yet to burst into flames.

2) I did a lot of stand-up. I’ve done a lot of different types of comedy performance–improv, sketch, children’s theater, working at Kinko’s–but I’m really enjoying saying comedy things into a microphone. This year, I performed at SF SketchFest, the Jonathan Coulton Cruise, headlined at Comedy Corner Underground in Minneapolis, a bunch of different geek conventions, variety shows with my wonderful friends The Doubleclicks, and performing on shows around town in LA. A highlight for me was getting booked on Ron Lynch’s awesome show TOMORROW. I was the first comic up and the last comic of the night was Louis CK. I’ve also been posting a bunch of my stuff to YouTube. Here’s a bit about objectification and soup recorded live at CONvergence.

3) Writing and hosting for WTFark. I did several stints guest hosting this satirical comedy news show. My favorite, by far, is this story about a monkey man which caused Huffington Post to quote me about monkey cults in New Zealand.

4) I shot an episode of TableTop with Wil Wheaton. If you’re not familiar with TableTop, well, hello and welcome to your first day on the internet! I hope you like cats! Seriously, TableTop is an awesome show, Wil’s an awesome host, and it was super fun to shoot. I played the game Concept and my episode should be out in early 2015. Until then, here’s a picture of me from the set!

Joseph Scrimshaw isn’t sure he gets the Concept… #TableTop

A photo posted by Geek & Sundry (@geekandsundry) on

5) I started a Patreon. The kind and generous support of my patrons has given me the freedom and impetus to keep creating comedy stories and essays on my blog, producing my podcast Obsessed, and unlocking fun, weird goals like doing stand-up dressed as a squirrel.

6) I became a Social Justice Warrior. Contrary to my assumptions, there was not a long series of arduous trials. All I had to do was speak up about issues of common human decency and equality! I’m particularly proud of this essay about what a stupid, inefficient insult SJW is.

7) I wrote another episode of Getting On with James Urbaniak. James’ podcast is great. In every episode he plays a different character who happens to be named James Urbaniak. I’ve written two other episodes, but this one was a special spooky episode released on Halloween. It features James playing a man who is both a motivational speaker and a werewolf.

8) I recorded an episode of The Dork Forest with Jackie Kashian. I’ve done a lot of guest bits on great podcasts this year–including Star Wars Minute, Feliz Navipod, Fire Talk With Me, Kneel Before Aud–but Jackie’s was extra special because she gave me a t-shirt. I’m thrilled to have got to know Jackie a little better. She’s an amazing comedian and a great podcast host and she let me defend the Star Wars prequels and didn’t even kick me out of her house.

9) I helped make Thanksgiving Versus Christmas happen. Thanksgiving Versus Christmas was my friend Molly Lewis’ awesome holiday special. Molly wrote all the songs, the awesome Josh Cagan wrote the book, and we performed it as a live show. I directed, played the narrator, and did a little bit of work on the script. Everything came together beautifully (Molly has an excellent wrap-up here) and it was one of those wonderful magic times where the show was even more than the sum of its parts. And the parts were all damn good to begin with. The show is available as an album and you can pre-order the hell out of it right now.

10) I continued being Obsessed. I continue to enjoy doing my comedy podcast Obsessed and to my delight, the listenership continues to increase! One of my favorite episodes this year was both insightful and horrifically funny thanks to my guests Tim Wick and Rebecca Watson. The episode was about CATS. Other favorite episodes included obsessions with Maps, Grease 2, Tiny Things, and Tenacious D. You can find them all on iTunes.

11) I continued to tweet a lot. I don’t know if I’m proud of that, but it’s definitely a thing that happened. Here’s one of my favorite tweets this year.

12) Writing, writing, always writing. I wrote a lot of different things this year. In addition to some of the stuff mentioned above, I’m proud to be a regular contributor to Alice Lee’s awesome essay site Yearbook Office where I write about things like social justice and U2. I also wrote 30,000 words of a novel that I’ll eventually finish and I wrote three drafts of a sit com spec script that I’m currently shopping around. I also wrote this thing about Aquaman and got a thumbs up on twitter from the current writing team on the actual Aquaman comic book. Several of my (already written, thank god) plays were produced this year including Adventures in Mating, An Inconvenient Squirrel, and Stitch, Bitch N Die with more productions to come next year.

13) I started a show in LA called HOT COMEDY DREAM TIME. The concept of the show is that I get guest comedians and actors and they perform something they’ve always wanted to perform. In the show’s three month trial run, we created new sketches and bits with Hal Lublin, John Ross Bowie, Wil Wheaton, Dana Snyder, Mike Phirman, Greg Benson, Kim Evey, and Audrey Kearns. The show will be back in 2015! Details soon right here on the website.

14) I AM STILL ALIVE. Well, that took a sudden and dark turn. 2014 has, in many ways, been a rough year. There’s been a lot of brutal and pointless violence in the world. A lot of sad deaths in the world of comedy. Two friends from the comedy scene in Minnesota passed away suddenly in the last months of the year. Sometimes it feels like it would be easy to succumb to despair given how difficult and unfair life can be. But in doing something like writing this year in review, I look back on all the amazing, kind, funny, brave, gracious people I know–people I work with creatively, people I know in real life, people I only know on social media, people I see in audiences at shows who have done this insane incredible thing called leaving their house–and I feel very refreshed and inspired.

Thanks to everyone who has helped justify my optimism this year.

15) I ADDED ANOTHER ONE BECAUSE CHAOS REIGNS SUPREME. I also watched a lot of Netflix with my wonderful wife, Sara. We like Arrow a lot. Thanks, universe.

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ROXETTE: Obsessed Ep 67

Author and charming human Amy Spalding shares her love of Swedish pop duo Roxette. Listen like a man! Listen like a hammer! (That is a joke about Roxette lyrics, I am not insane.) PLUS: I share the top 10 searches that lead people to my website in 2014! Also: I said in the podcast that my managers at Kinko’s were dicks. Only one of them was a dick. I apologize to my other Kinko’s managers who were awesome.

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GEEK CODE

TheGeekCode

One of the rewards of backing me on Patreon is suggesting a topic for a blog post. The backer who suggested this post wished to remain anonymous.

Anonymous said, “I sometimes feel like a politician the way I wordsmith my partner’s interests and actions when talking to co-workers or family. So my suggestion is a how-to guide for introducing your geeky significant other to your non-geeky friends and family.”

Personally, I think we should all fly our geek flag with pride, but it’s not always easy to do.

So as you jump in your stolen Type 40 TARDIS or illegally modified YT-1300 Corellian Freighter to travel home for the holidays, here are several fun euphemisms for geek pursuits you can use with your family of noobs!

Collecting Star Wars Action Figures = Investing in Plastics

Playing Dungeons & Dragons = Taste Testing New Mountain Dew Flavors

Working at a Ren Fest = Camping with Benefits

Putting Magic Cards in Plastic Sleeves = Canning the Preserves

Playing Legend of Zelda = What if Candy Crush had a story?

Painting Miniatures = Mid-Life Crisis

Buying Comic Books = Participating in a focus group for the movie industry

Editing Wikipedia Articles about Star Trek Novels = Screaming at the Abyss

Shipping Hermione and Harry = Being aware that Tumblr exists

Masturbating to a Picture of Benedict Cumberbatch = Pilates

Okay. Reviewing the above, it’s clear some of my euphemisms are potentially more confusing/disturbing than the truth.

Here’s another tactic. Just get mad and yell at people. Personally, my patience for the non-geeky reacting with confusion and derision to geek stuff has been greatly eroded since, you know, geek stuff is now a massive part of our culture and economy. Here are some cathartic answers. They work best if you have an obnoxious relative named Steve who is also a dentist.

Who is Captain Marvel?

SHE’S A SUPERHERO WHOSE MOVIE IS GOING TO MAKE MORE MONEY ON OPENING WEEKEND THEN YOU WILL EVER MAKE AS A DENTIST, STEVE.

What’s a Doctor Who?

IT’S A BRITISH SHOW THAT HAS BEEN AROUND LONGER THAN YOU’VE BEEN ALIVE, STEVE. AND NO, JUST BECAUSE IT’S BRITISH DOESN’T MEAN THE ACTORS HAVE BAD TEETH. THAT JOKE IS STUPID AND YOU SHOULD FEEL BAD ABOUT YOURSELF, STEVE.

What’s a furry?

THEY’RE PEOPLE WHO ENJOY DRESSING UP LIKE ANIMALS, STEVE. YOU SHOULD UNDERSTAND THAT SINCE YOU’VE BEEN COSPLAYING A HORSE’S ASS ALL NIGHT.

Okay, but what’s cosplay?

DON’T YOU WATCH CRIME PROCEDURALS? THEY’VE ALL DONE A COSPLAY EPISODE. IT’S LIKE THAT, BUT NOT STUPID LIKE THOSE SHOWS MAKE IT SEEM. IT’S AWESOME, STEVE. HAVE YOU EVER SEEN SOMEONE DRESSED UP AS HELLO KITTY DARTH VADER? CAN YOUR PUNY MIND EVEN FATHOM THAT, STEVE?

What’s a Skyrim, though? Is that–

DO YOU KNOW WHAT GOOGLE IS, STEVE? DO YOU KNOW WHAT YEAR IT IS? DO YOU WANT TO BE EVEN REMOTELY CULTURAL RELEVANT? OR DO YOU JUST WANT TO BE A TWITTER EGG PROFILE PIC OF A HUMAN BEING FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, STEVE?

Anyway, that’s not an actual suggestion, more of a fantasy. An angry, cathartic fantasy that was SUPER FUN to type.

Ultimately, I think the best you can do is be wise, calm, and patient like Obi-Wan Kenobi. If your loved ones are curious about your geeky pursuits, just tell them the truth.

Even if that truth is from a certain point of view.

There’s nothing in the geek realm that isn’t as simple as this: It’s a hobby, a game, a television show, a book, a club, or, you know, A DRIVING FORCE OF OUR ECONOMY AND CULTURE.

Because when you get down to it, there is no difference between Pokemon and Fantasy Football.

Okay, Pikachu hasn’t been arrested anywhere near as much as NFL players, but there’s no reason to rub that in at the dinner table.

Happy holidays and Han Shot First.

Your geek pal,
Joseph

If you enjoy my comedy works, you can help make them possible by becoming a patron! Also, if you’re still looking for holiday gifts for the geek in your life, here are some geeky comedy things.

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GARDENING: Obsessed Ep 66

Actor (The Commish, Boston Public, See No Evil 2) and jalapeno aficionado Kaj-Erik Eriksen has strong feelings about gardening. Thrill to tales of the little jalapeno plant that could, the mega-pumpkin, and something called dino-kale. (Spelling?) WARNING: There is much talk of grubs being assholes. Be warned, grub fans.

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