Monthly Archives: February 2013


I recently returned from spending a week in a giant hotel that floated around the Caribbean. The floating hotel was filled with awesome performers, friends, fans, and employees who wanted to aggressively sell me booze every waking moment.

All of this awesomeness was because of Jonathan Coulton’s JoCoCruiseCrazy.

Everything about the cruise was great. The other performers, the attendees (they self-identify as Sea Monkeys), and all of the events both official and unofficial. Even the things that weren’t necessarily great were amusing. (The staff really did want to sell you more stuff at all times. I’m surprised they don’t have staff members with mini-bars in each individual bathroom stall. It would be efficient.)

I did a brand new show on the mainstage that went really well. It was a light comedy show about all of my flaws as a human being. Stylistically, it’s a Frankenstein’s monster made out of parts of stand-up comedy, storytelling, theater, and drinking beer with friends. I’ve done a lot of different kinds of comedy performance, but this particular beast is the kind of show I want to be doing, so the warm reception was very gratifying. Hopefully, I’ll be doing more performances of the show and eventually recording it.

I also got to record an episode of my podcast Obsessed with my pals Molly Lewis, Mike Phirman, and Wil Wheaton. They were hilarious, insightful, and all-around perfect guests for the podcast, so go check out the beer and pro-tools episode and rate the hell out of the podcast on iTunes.

The kind Sea Monkeys also bought up all the copies of my book and comedy album that I brought on the boat. I performed a live riff with Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy. I played a starship simulator video game called Artemis live on stage. I danced to the mad DJ skillz of David Rees and John Hodgman. I decided Paul (of Paul and Storm) could use some interpretive dance (aka mime humping) during his rockin’ karaoke version of “Wanted Dead Or Alive.” I accidentally walked past the door to my stateroom while entirely sober and the steward pointed and laughed for a full thirty seconds. My lovely wife, Sara, did an amazing job helping the shows run smoothly backstage. Sara and I also had a nice romantic moment when we were terrified by the infamous hanging monkey towel animal.


I could go on and on about the cruise, but strangely the event that gave me the most perspective happened on the way home. (For more on the cruise itself, I suggest watching Greg Benson’s hilarious videos, reading Jonathan’s wrap up or Sea Monkey Alice’s blog post.)

The Sea Monkeys have a kind habit of applauding the performers when they enter the ship’s dining room. When Sara and I walked down the aisle of our packed plane home, two Sea Monkeys quietly, lightly applauded. We had a brief chat about accepting our transition back into the real world.

“We want to yell the thing, but we can’t,” said the Sea Monkeys. The thing was an ongoing joke to yell “SEX PARTY!” during performances. Definitely not the thing to yell on a crowded plane.

But it was a lovely moment to share. The mood on the cruise is very supportive and intense like we’re all members of a kindness cult.

Strangely, the man I sat next to on the plane turned out to actually be a member of a cult.

He was very friendly and not wearing robes or waving a dagger or anything. Let’s say his name was Ed. He was probably in his 50s, he smiled a lot, and told me he owned a feed mill in Amsterdam. He didn’t make any jokes about milling pot for animals. I didn’t either.

After the normal small talk, he told me that he had been in Orlando for a week to learn about approaching the world with kindness.

“That’s nice,” I thought. “I’ve been on a floating hotel doing a comedy/music convention that spent a lot of time celebrating kindness. Maybe I should have an open mind.”

Then he gave me a card for Avatar, the Compassion Project. I looked up Avatar. It’s been described as Scientology-Lite. It was founded by a guy who got sued by the Church of Scientology for ripping off their materials, so he went rogue. To review, this organization was formed by a man who was too morally bankrupt to be a Scientologist.

Ed told me the program had taught him to mill feed for animals in a manner that exposed rabbits to their inner happiness. I am not making this up. Ed wanted me to read a passage from his new Avatar book. It had blown his mind.

Around the same time, a child in the seat in front of us started yelling about how to spell Mickey Mouse. The child insisted that there is no “e.” That it’s spelled M-I-C-K-Y. (Much like Scottish Whisky has no e, so she must be a fan of single malt Scottish cartoon mice.) The child decided to prove she was right by repeatedly yelling “KY!”

I tried to focus on the passage in an effort to be friendly toward the smiling man who believed a bastardized version of Scientology can make bunnies reach their full potential. I was pretty sure I would think the passage was manipulative bullshit, but I might as well be friendly.

This was the greatly paraphrased gist of the passage:

Any text that spreads the message of kindness (like this one) is holy. Anyone who speaks against a holy message is a monster. Therefore, anyone who disagrees with what this book says about kindness is a horrible, evil person.

I finished reading and said, “Okay.”

Ed smiled and said, “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”

The child screamed, “KY!”

“That passage changed my life,” Ed said.

“Huh,” I answered.


I decided the best form of kindness I could show Ed and myself was to not go on a rant about how awful and disturbing I found his life changing passage.

Instead, I turned and chatted with Sara for a few minutes. Ed got lost in his book again. The child still screamed “KY!” long after her parents had agreed, “Yeah, sure, that’s how you spell Mickey. Please stop screaming KY.”

A lot of the performers and the Sea Monkeys had spent a week on JoCoCruiseCrazy pushing themselves to try new things. New songs, new jokes, new games, new drinks, new people, new experiences, new and inappropriate times and places to yell “SEX PARTY!”

There was a significant amount of discussion that people felt safe to try new things during the cruise because there was an almost surreal level of support, encouragement, and kindness.

Real, simple kindness. Like, “Hey, you should try karaoke. All we ask is that you try hard and have fun and we will applaud. We won’t lie to you and tell you you’re great if you’re not, but we sure as hell won’t laugh at you or throw things.”

If there is a passage about karaoke in the Avatar books I’m sure it’s vile and manipulative stuff teaching the important lesson that ONLY AVATAR CAN SHOW YOU THE WAY TO TRUE KARAOKE AND ONLY IF YOU PAY US A LOT OF MONEY AND HARSHLY JUDGE ALL WHO QUESTION THE ONE TRUE KARAOKE.

And I have a horrible feeling that the ONE TRUE AVATAR KARAOKE SONG is probably “Free Bird.”

In short, I’m very happy to have gone to my own week long seminar on kindness. One that happened organically and honestly without an agenda. One that happened simply because people felt safe to say, “Hey, is it cool if I try something new?”

And the only response they got from the rest of the Sea Monkeys was a resounding, “Yes!”

Usually followed by a resounding “SEX PARTY!”

Thanks, friends.


Filed under Comedy Trip

BEER and PRO-TOOLS: Obsessed Ep 21

Wil Wheaton loves beer! Mike Phirman loves Pro-Tools audio software! Molly Lewis plays the Obsessed theme live! A very special episode of Obsessed recorded live on a boat in the middle of the Caribbean sea for Jonathan Coulton’s JoCoCruiseCrazy! Find out the answer to the following questions and more: What is Wesley Crusher’s favorite beer? Could Mike Phirman kill a man with kindness? Why did Molly Lewis smash a pizza box with a ukulele? Plus, Wil and Mike make sex noises to advertise Joseph’s comedy album VERBING THE NOUN. (Also, if you’re a knitter, listen in the background to hear the clicking noises of the live audience’s crafting!)

AWOOGA! Obsessed is now a part of Feral Audio! Go to Feral now to listen to this episode and subscribe for new ones!

Listen, rate, review, and subscribe to OBSESSED on iTunes.


Filed under Obsessed, Podcast

SEX: Obsessed Ep 20

Joseph explores sex, one of the world’s most common obsessions, with actor/writer David Mann and comedy musician Courtney McLean of The Dirty Curls. Highlights include sublimation as explained via Batman and incredibly honest sex noises performed to advertise Joseph’s comedy album VERBING THE NOUN. Enjoy the sex!

AWOOGA! Obsessed is now a part of Feral Audio! Go to Feral now to listen to this episode and subscribe for new ones!

Listen, rate, review, and subscribe to OBSESSED on iTunes.

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Filed under Obsessed, Podcast

The Anti-Commercial

When I was about fourteen, my mother took me to visit my grandfather.

He suffered from depression. He was scarred from his service in World War II. The only thing he ever said about the war was this: “I should have married that nice girl I met in France instead of your grandmother.”

My grandmother once popped my balloon with a cigarette while she was gesticulating wildly to complain about how people shouldn’t get welfare, so, fair enough, Grandpa.

I hadn’t seen my grandfather in a few years. I was an incredibly thin teen. My mother had put on a few pounds. When we arrived at his small apartment, he stared at us. Then he said:

“I guess she’s eating all the food.”

I was, of course, hurt and offended, but also IMPRESSED by the skill with which he so succinctly mocked us BOTH.

This memory popped into my head when I saw the horrible GoDaddy commercial during the Super Bowl.

Here’s a space where I’m not linking to the commercial:

I don’t want them to get any more hits, so let me describe it. A stereotypically attractive female model sits next to a stereotypically unattractive male geek. The voice over says something crappy about web hosting.

Then the model and the geek kiss. This is supposed to be CRAZY in ALL-CAPS. This is supposed to be as outlandish as every other commercial premise. This is as WEIRD as A PLANET FULL OF BABIES or OLD PEOPLE EATING AT TACO BELL or GOTHS DRINKING BUDWEISER.

There are horrible unnatural kissing smacking sound effects most likely created by slapping a seal with a wet noodle. Like that, but more disgusting. It was like they couldn’t decide whether the kiss itself should be funny or sexy so they went with the third option of REVOLTING.

Then, just like my grandfather, the commercial delivers the perfect double punch. The voice says something along the lines of you should use GoDaddy because it does this brilliant thing of combining SEXY and SMART.

After the average American Super Bowl viewer managed to hold down their Doritos and Bud Light through the endless kissing scene, they were treated to this moral at the end of the commercial:

Sexy women aren’t smart.
Smart men aren’t sexy.

I had to fight the urge to leap off the couch and go cancel my GoDaddy account. The only reason I didn’t is because I do not have a GoDaddy account. I’m tempted to sign up for one so I can have the satisfaction of canceling it. If you have a GoDaddy account, I politely encourage you to consider canceling it.

The Super Bowl commercials were extra horrifying this year as though they were actually striving to meet a bullshit stereotype reinforcement quota. Old people shouldn’t have fun, violence is cool, women are objects, Stevie Wonder is a voodoo priest, babies can’t be astronauts, etc.

I had a more visceral reaction to the GoDaddy commercial because it seemed to go out of its way to be as offensive as possible and then wink about it. Like it was cute and clever. Those fools! Don’t they realize ONE entity can’t be both CUTE and CLEVER! That’s as outrageous as an attractive woman kissing an intelligent man!

I expect this sort of absurdity from Budweiser. Frankly, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see Christopher Walken, Shia LaBeouf, and a team of Playboy Bunnies do a 60 second spot to advertise the new Bud Light Beer Enema. I would have had problems with that, too, but all the societal issues would be more difficult to analyze and address.

I think we need to start breaking down the cheap, easy stereotypes. It’s not easy, but the GoDaddy commercial gives us a nice place to start. I hope a lot of people who are both smart and sexy tell GoDaddy that they really aren’t interested in being negatively stereotyped. I hope they remind GoDaddy that what they want out of a web hosting company is web hosting, not insulting commercials with horrific kissing noises.

There are plenty of web hosting options out there.

We all make choices.

My grandfather could have married that nice girl in France.

We could tell GoDaddy where to go.


Filed under Comedy Review