I have a great time celebrating and discussing Star Wars on the podcast I co-host, ForceCenter. As a fun exercise, we tried to imagine the opening crawl for EPISODE IX if it foolishly tried to recap the previous eight films. Here’s the crawl I wrote. I love Star Wars very much for its bizarre and delightful mixture of pulp adventure and character-driven philosophical morality tale. This was a fun way to celebrate!

The galaxy was at peace. For a thousand generations, the JEDI KNIGHTS were the guardians of justice and balance in the REPUBLIC. But even under the strong leadership of the ancient master YODA, the Jedi worried corruption and darkness could destroy all they had built.

New hope arrived when the Jedi discovered a young boy named ANAKIN SKYWALKER, the chosen one whispered of in prophecy. Believing he could return balance to the force by destroying the dark side warriors known as the SITH, Anakin was trained by the noble Jedi Knight, OBI-WAN KENOBI.

Little did the Jedi realize, the Republic was controlled by the Sith Lord, DARTH SIDIOUS. Masquerading as a politician named SHEEV PALPATINE, he orchestrated a massive political conflict and the CLONE WARS erupted, plunging the galaxy into chaos.

Defying the code of the Jedi Order, Anakin fell in love with the brave and wise Senator, PADME AMIDALA. Sidious manipulated Anakin’s fear of losing Padme and convinced him to betray the Jedi. Consumed by the dark side, Anakin became DARTH VADER, the terrifying enforcer of Palpatine’s new EMPIRE. With the Republic destroyed and the Jedi Order abolished, darkness fell.

Yet there was still hope. Before her tragic death, Padme gave birth to twins, LUKE SKYWALKER and LEIA ORGANA. Obi-Wan and Yoda watched over them, until the time was right.

Years later, a REBELLION led by Leia Organa brought the young freedom fighter face to face with her long lost brother, Luke. Together with unlikely heroes the scoundrel HAN SOLO and his loyal Wookiee friend, CHEWBACCA, the Skywalker Twins defied the tyranny of the Empire, launching the Galactic Civil War.

Under the guidance of Obi-Wan and Yoda, Luke trained to become a Jedi like his father. Soon fate demanded Luke face the truth that Anakin had become the dark lord Darth Vader.

Preying on Luke’s compassion for his friends, Sidious drew the young Jedi into a trap and sought to turn him to the dark side. In a desperate attempt to keep his sister Leia from the clutches of the Sith, Luke called upon the dark side to defeat his father in a fateful duel.

Before Luke could strike the killing blow, he realized the folly of vengeance and threw down his weapon. The act of mercy awakened the hero Anakin Skywalker. Selflessly, Anakin gave his life to save his son, destroying the Sith and fulfilling the prophecy.

For many years, there was balance. Luke, now a Jedi Master, trained his nephew BEN SOLO, son of Leia and galactic hero Han Solo, in the ways of the force. But haunted by fear of his family’s complicated legacy and his own place within it, Ben fell to the dark side and became KYLO REN.

Soon he led the re-emergent Empire known as the FIRST ORDER in a brutal attack on the NEW REPUBLIC. Opposed only by a small band of fighters known as the RESISTANCE, once again led by Leia Organa, the galaxy plunged back into war.

Still the light side of the Force persisted, awakening powerful abilities within a mysterious young scavenger named REY. Soon, destiny led Rey to clash with Kylo Ren and witness him kill his father, Han Solo.

Armed with the Skywalker family LIGHTSABER, she sought out Luke Skywalker for guidance. But to their mutual surprise, Rey and Kylo found themselves drawn together, both hoping to turn the other to their side of the force.

Despite her empathy for Ben Solo’s fear and loneliness, Rey resisted. Inspired by the heroism of his young pupil, Luke Skywalker gave his life to save his sister and the Resistance from certain destruction.

Now, young REY and her friends, former Stormtrooper FINN and daring pilot POE DAMERON, race to save the galaxy from the legacy of terror dominating Kylo Ren’s soul and restore peace and justice to the galaxy…

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I love Halloween. One of the many reasons I love it is because it’s a chance to take a step back and realize the deep, deep complexity of human society.

I was at a store and I saw a box of spooky Halloween cereal. Yay! Fun! But then I stopped and really looked at it.

It was a box of Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes featuring Tony the Tiger dressed as Count Dracula and the cereal itself contained marshmallows shaped like a ghost, a bat, and the head of Frankenstein’s Monster.

When I saw this box of cereal, I imagined the effort it would take to explain this to an alien. So I tried writing it out.

So, first, let’s just define the basic building block of this: Frosted Flakes.

In order to start our day with a healthy breakfast, we took corn–a thing that is already food we could just eat–and we smashed it into flakes.

But we still don’t want to eat that so we put a bunch of sugar on top of it. Then we pour milk on it so we can lie to ourselves and claim it’s healthy.

Now there are many different companies making these denial corn flakes and they are all basically the same product. So to make them seem different from one another, we invented a thing called branding.

We want to create a bond between the cereal makers and the cereal eaters so we created a mascot. Someone fun and friendly that people could relate to. Like a giant tiger.

A tiger is a large animal which, under the right circumstances, would happily kill and eat us. They require no branding to do this. Just hunger.

But this is not a normal tiger. This one walks on two legs and has a name. His name is Tony and he exists only to sell us things. He sells us things with the catchphrase, “They’re great!” Normally, shouting a biased subjective opinion about the quality of corn flakes is enough to make them fly off the shelves.

But not now. Not at Halloween. So Tony, a predator salesperson pretending to be our friend, needs to dress up as something scary. Normally, Tony the Tiger is nude with just a handkerchief around his neck. Like a bib for eating humans. But that’s not scary enough during Halloween.

So Tony is dressed up as another character named Count Dracula. Dracula is an undead rich person who wears a cape because he’s from Europe. Dracula is a vampire and he wants to hurt us. But not by eating us. He wants to suck our blood in a psycho-sexual ritual designed to steal our life essence so he can go on living for all eternity.

This is only barely a metaphor for what actual rich people do to us everyday. But during Halloween it’s fun because he has a cape.

Now, let’s move on to the Marshmallows. Marshmallows are pieces of sugar that don’t bother lying to us about what they are.

And these particular marshmallows are shaped like a bat, a ghost, and the head of Frankenstein’s Monster. Let’s break those down.

First, a bat. In reality, a bat is a small animal that mostly means us no harm whatsoever and couldn’t eat a human if it tried. But somehow we have become more afraid of bats than a tiger. A bat is basically an animal that suffers from extremely inaccurate branding.

Next up, a ghost. A ghost is what happens when a human dies but their soul is trapped on the mortal plane. When that happens the soul wears a white sheet with eyeholes so the soul can watch Netflix, I guess. I don’t know. That one’s a mystery. The point is: this marshmallow is an opportunity to eat the undead souls of other humans.

And finally, Frankenstein’s Monster’s head. Oh, boy. This one would take a very long time to fully articulate. So real short version. A woman named Mary Shelly invented the concept of science fiction by writing a novel about a dude who could not accept death so he made a fake man using body parts and lightning and since then we’ve told hundreds of stories about this monster being lonely and having a hard time making friends. We’ve told so many stories about this large lonely man that as a culture we can instantly recognize JUST HIS HEAD rendered in crude marshmallow form.

So that’s basically it. If you encounter an alien wanting to understand the spooky limited edition Halloween Kellogg’s Chocolate Frosted Flakes you know what to tell them:

It’s a tiger but it acts like a human to sell us things but it’s Halloween, a time we embrace darkness, so it’s dressed as a blood-sucking monster and the sugar blobs are all death imagery so we can eat our own fear. With milk.

And if that isn’t fun I don’t know what the hell is.

If you enjoyed this post, you can check out my comedy albums on bandcamp here!

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A lot of people say they love Halloween because it’s fun to be scared. And to me that is bullshit.

I don’t need a special time of the year to be scared. Here’s a list of non-Halloween times where I am scared:

Any day when I read the news.
When my DVR doesn’t record Supergirl.
When someone wants to describe something funny they did in an improv scene in great detail.
When someone says “How are you?” and I get nervous and respond “You too.”
Every month that is not October
and also the month of October.

The point is being scared is not rare. I love Halloween because I think it’s an opportunity to reflect on why we’re scared. Why do certain things fill our souls with dread?

I had a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the nature of terror earlier this month when I went to Target and browsed their Halloween section.

They have lots of legitimately spooky stuff. They’ve got skeletons and spider webs and a Kylo Ren costume made for children. Father should be very concerned if your child wants to dress up as Kylo Ren for Halloween. Nothing like a little patricide to bring a family together.

That said, I do like the idea of a little kid dressed as Kylo Ren going door to door on Halloween night and instead of saying “Trick or Treat” he just holds out his bag and yells “MORE! MORE!”

Anyway, lots of legitimately spooky stuff at Target but what scared me the most is this. Amidst all their spooky props of tombstones and zombie hands bursting from the earth, Target has a collection of terrifying items that can only be described as ANALOG TECHNOLOGY.

They have an oldie-time microphone. Like old crooners would use. Like Ella Fitzgerald might have used when she sang with Chick Webb in the 1930s. Spooky big band vocals!

They have an oldie-time movie camera that uses actual film. You know like the kind of camera used to film such bone-chilling classics as 1987’s Harry and The Hendersons. The terror, the terror!

And perhaps the scariest of all, a rotary phone. Yes, that’s right. A phone so old it does not even have buttons to press. You have to stick your finger in little holes and rotate them multiple times to place a call to someone WHO MIGHT NOT EVEN BE HOME.

TERRIFYING. What other slightly outdated technology will be frightening us next?

There’s that old horror movie tagline “When there is no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.” That will now be changed to the much more frightening “When there is no more room in the landfill, the AOL discs will walk the earth.”

In the very near future, people will attempt to terrify trick or treaters by covering their lawns in Keurig coffeemakers. The pods, the pods! So wasteful!

Anyway, this visit to Target really drove home the point that one of the major things that scares us is just OLD SHIT. And I get it. The older something is the more likely that it has history. That it has baggage.

It’s easy to look at a rotary phone, this creaky broken down mechanical old thing, and wonder—who used this? What trauma were they going through? Could the tormented spirit of someone who had a slightly sore finger from all that manually dialing still be here? Could this old rotary phone be haunted by their very soul?

I get it. It’s easy to imagine a spirit lurking in a rotary phone because it’s old. And yet that’s kind of hypocritical bullshit. Because there is literally a lady who talks to me in my iPhone.

I never ask to talk to her but if say any combination of syllables that sounds vaguely like SIRI, she’s all like “Yes, Joseph, what do you need, Joseph? Would you like to know what time it is in Albania? Should I google the War of 1812? Where is Emily’s house? Who is near me?”

Those are all ACTUAL questions Siri has asked me to ask her. I don’t even know any contacts named Emily.

I get that we’re scared of old things because they intrinsically remind us of our own mortality. I understand that when you hear the scream of a fax machine there’s a part of your brain that just says, “Oh yeah. I am going to die and there’s nothing I can do about it. Thanks for the reminder, FAX MACHINE.”

I get it. But I feel like we’re being too hard on old stuff. I feel like if I was ever going to be attacked by a phone, I would absolutely be murdered by SIRI. Then she’d buy an old rotary phone, wrap the cord around my neck, and when the cops show up, she’d just be like—“THE OLD PHONE DID IT.”

And the dumb cops would be like, “Yep. That checks out.”

I think that we, as a culture, should tell more horror stories about modern things.

I love haunted castles and old abandoned amusement parks as much as the next person, but where are all the haunted Blockbuster Video stories?

Tell me the terrifying tale of Toby, the assistant manager, whose spirit cannot rest until that double disc DVD of Titanic is finally returned.

Tell me the chilling tale of the Borders Bookstore that got shut down in 2010, killed by Amazon, and now its corpse is being reanimated as an Amazon bookstore. I mean that is some cold shit to kill you and then take over your corpse.

I like old cathode ray tube televisions that are possessed by someone who died in a well in 1928. That’s fun. But give me a PS4 that’s haunted by the ghost of someone who didn’t go outside very often. And the PS4 just keeps turning itself off and moaning, “FOR FUCK SAKE, GET A LIFE.” That’s scary as hell.

There are great modern horror stories happening all around us right this very moment. Just a few months go Toys R Us—one of the happiest places on Earth—died. They had to close all their stores because they went bankrupt.

But as it turns out, they didn’t die. They were murdered by the greedy idiots who dumped a bunch of their own corporate debt on the company. Seriously, Toys R Us was murdered by a bunch of assholes in beige business suits.

But that’s not the end of the story. To paraphrase H.P. Lovecraft’s poem about the great God Cthulhu:

That which is dead can eternal lie
And with strange aeons
Even Geoffery may RISE.

That’s right. The owners of Toys R Us want to keep the brand alive so they have resurrected Geoffrey the Giraffe.

This is their big move to regain the trust of children everywhere—A ZOMBIE GIRAFFE.

Undead Geoffrey made his first appearance at a Dallas Toy Show wearing a bright red cape, not unlike Dracula. His cape had this haunting phrase scrawled on it: BACK FROM VACTION.

Vacation? You fuckers murdered him.

Still, I’m happy that Geoffrey is back from the dead. I want every Toys R Us store back. And I want them to lean-in to Zombie Geoffrey.

I want to see that Giraffe shambling through the store, arms outstretched, saying, “TRAINS! TRAINS! Video Games! Biggest toy store there is! Want to be Toys R Us Kid!”

Yes, it would be a little scary, but also pretty awesome. It is a Zombie Giraffe whose relentless desire is not death. Geoffrey’s relentless desire is to share JOY.

Because it’s not Geoffrey’s fault he was sent “on vacation from life.” It’s not the rotary phone’s fault it’s out of date. It’s not the movie camera’s fault that everything is digital now.

We have a choice about what scares us. And for me it’s not old dead things. It’s the living breathing terror in our midst. It’s shambling greedy assholes in beige business suits.

And also when my DVR doesn’t record Supergirl.

Anyway, I hope you all have a wonderful Halloween and that not one of you is murdered by a rotary phone.

If you enjoyed this post, you can check out my comedy albums on bandcamp here!

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I’m deeply concerned about the direction of our country.

Day by day we see issues, decisions, policies come up and it feels like we have no power to impact them. But we do. It’s not fast, it’s not direct, but we make a difference by voting. In particular, we have a chance to make a difference on November 6th and the build up to those mid-term elections. One of the key things we can do is change the composition of the Senate.

I couldn’t find a clear, direct list of close Senate races so I put one together myself. I make no claim to be a political expert. I pulled this list of close/important races from a complex Wikipedia article about 2018 Senate races. I wanted to make a simple direct list because I know we’re busy and it’s hard to find the signal in the noise.

I don’t think the Democrats are perfect, but I think they have far superior policies and beliefs to Republicans. And even when they drag their feet to be as progressive as I would like, I feel it is much easier for us to put pressure on them then to change the mind of a lockstep Republican.

If you live in any of these states, I encourage you to research, support, and/or donate to Democratic candidates.

Martha McSally ( R )
Kyrsten Sinema (D )

Link to donate/support/research to Dem candidate!

Rick Scott ( R )
Bill Nelson ( D )

Link to donate/support/research Dem candidate!

Dean Heller ( R )
Jacky Rosen ( D )

Link to donate/support/research Dem candidate!

Ted Cruz ( R )
Beto O’Rourke (D )

Link to donate/support/research Dem candidate!


The Mississippi Special Election is a little more complex, you can get info here!

Marsha Blackburn ( R )
Phil Bredesen ( D )

Link to donate/support/research Dem candidate!

Mike Braun ( R )
Joe Donnelly ( D )

Link to donate/support/research Dem candidate!

Josh Hawley ( R )
Claire McCaskill ( D )

Link to donate/support/research Dem candidate!

Matt Rosendale ( R )
Jon Tester ( D )

Link to donate/support/research Dem candidate!

Kevin Cramer ( R )
Heidi Heitkamp ( D )

Link to donate/support/research Dem candidate!

Thank you for your time.

Joseph “I Will Vote” Scrimshaw

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Poe Dameron Greets The New Year

I have two simple resolutions for 2018.

The first is to find a better way to greet other humans.

“How are you?” is obviously flawed. At this point in our shared human reality, “How are you?” is a question that should only be asked by a professional therapist at the beginning of a four hour long counseling session.

So I’m playing with these alternatives:
“Hello, I’m aware of everything going on in your life because you posted it on Instagram. Are there any interesting stories behind that photo of you eating ice cream at sunset?”

And it always has to be that whole thing. Even if the person hasn’t posted a photo of themselves eating ice cream at sunset. In fact, it might be a more interesting conversation if they haven’t.

Another option is greeting people by saying:
“Hello, could you please tell me one good thing that is happening in your life, because while I comprehend there are also bad things, I cannot cope with them at this time. I apologize for my emotional weakness.”

That’s honest but a little bit of a bummer, so the final option I’m playing with is just changing “Hello. How are you?” to the nice, simple:
“Hello. How am I?”

“I mean, you’ve seen my Instagram photos. How am I doing? Am I okay?”

That might put a little too much pressure on the other person, but we would probably learn a lot about ourselves.

So new greetings are resolution number one.

My other resolution is to just find JOY wherever I can.

One of the things that has brought me joy, for almost my entire life, is a very odd thing: Star Wars action figures. Little pieces of plastic molded to look vaguely like some actors in a thrilling space fantasy series about wizards cutting people’s arms off with laser swords.

But every time there’s a new Star Wars movie, some very original person on the internet comes along and makes the bold declaration that “the new Star Wars movie is just a big toy commercial.”

To which, the answer is, sure, yes, and that’s fine. New Star Wars movies and their toys are meant to make money. They are not some vicious capitalist attack on that charitable non-profit George Lucas set up in 1977.

They have always been movies designed to make money and one of the ways they make money is toys. But the only reason people buy the toys is because they are inspired by the story. Or you know the art.

So if you want to make the “it’s just to sell toys argument”, I kindly invite you to go to the Louvre museum in Paris and tell it to the Mona Lisa bobbleheads. Great art inspires commerce.

I plan to yell all of that at anyone who gives me a side-eye when I buy eight Porg pillows at Target tomorrow.

And yes the Porgs are cute, but I don’t need cute to buy Star Wars action figures. I once bought two Bacta Tank Luke Skywalker action figures. This is an action figure of Luke Skywalker from the Empire Strikes Back when he is floating in a big vat of transparent fluid. This action figure is basically Mark Hamill in a diaper and I bought TWO of them.

Star Wars does not NEED cute to sell me action figures, dammit.

Anyway, back to JOY.

Around the same time this fall, two major news stories broke. One was about escalating tensions with North Korea raising the possibility of total nuclear annihilation and the other was that Toys R’ Us was declaring bankruptcy.

My immediate emotional reaction to both of those things was: “I could have done more to stop this.”

So the next day I went to Toys R’ Us. And I picked out a Toys R’ Us exclusive action figure of Poe Dameron, the dashing starpilot played by Oscar Isaac.

Now I enjoy the character of Poe Dameron very much. He has his flaws, but he is always positive and supportive and greets almost everyone by saying, “Hey, buddy! You’re doing great!” which might be how I start greeting people in 2018.

But I don’t have many Poe Dameron action figures for one simple reason: They repeatedly fail to capture the aesthetic glory that is Oscar Isaac’s face.

Almost every Poe Dameron action figure looks like it was sculpted out of butter and left out in the sun.

They look like Poe Dameron’s bitter twin brother who wants revenge after his botched plastic surgery.

But, still, I wanted to help Toys R’ Us so I picked out a pretty good Poe Dameron. This one looked like it was sculpted by the woman in Spain who tried to fix the fresco of Jesus and accidentally painted a monkey face. It was beautiful in its intentions.

So I took my Monkey Face Poe to the cash register. A 17 year old kid dragged my Poe across the scanner. And then something strange happened. The kid looked me in the eyes and said something I’ve never had anyone say to me in decades of buying action figures. The kid said, “Would you like to pay $2.99 extra for a warranty?”

Suddenly, I was not a young-at-heart person buying a fun toy, I was a jaded old consumer and I found myself saying, “Uhh, a warranty for what?”

And the 17 old kid said, “I don’t know. I guess in case it doesn’t work?”

My mind raced. How can an action figure not work?

I’m not even going to take it out of the package.

Was my Poe Dameron not going to give me uplifting speeches? Was it going to disobey Vice Admiral Holdo?  How could an action figure of weird Poe Dameron FAIL ME?

The kid brought me out of my pondering by saying, “Look, my checkout screen is just telling me to ask if you want a warranty. I guess we offer them on all Toys R’ Us Exclusives.”

I snapped back to reality and realized the kid was not the weird one in this situation. He was doing his job. I was the fully grown adult grumbling about getting nickeled and dimed on my Poe Dameron action figure.

So I smiled and said no thanks and walked away. I walked away, LIKE AN IDIOT.

As soon as I got out into the parking lot, I realized the truth. I know why I buy action figures. I don’t play with them like I did when I was a kid. I put them up around my apartment and as I walk past them, without even realizing it, I think about the character, I think about the story, I think about all the birthdays and holidays that were made better because someone I love gave me an action figure.

In other words, every time I walk past them I feel a tiny but profound burst of joy.

Toys R’ Us had basically offered me a warranty on JOY.

And I had said NO.

How amazing would that be if I could call up Toy R’ Us and say, “Yeah, today I walked past my action figure of weird Poe Dameron and I did not feel a burst of joy, but I do have a $3 warranty for JOY. Please send me some replacement joy IMMEDIATELY.”

It was a good reminder to me to be open, to be friendly, and to find joy any place you can.

So I’m going to try to spend every day in 2018 by getting up, walking past weird Poe Dameron and imagining him saying to me, “Hey Buddy, you’re doing great!”

Thanks, weird Poe.

Thanks for reading. If you’d like to support my work, you can check out Patreon here or the Star Wars podcast I co-host ForceCenter.


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An Obvious Thing That Needs To Be Said

There are Nazis walking the streets of America wearing the hat and slogan of the President of the United States. Make America Great Again.

The President and various pundits are trying to diffuse or distract from this by saying, “Well, there are strong opinions on both sides. ALL violence is wrong. I thought liberals were open minded and inclusive.”

I believe in keeping an open mind and listening. I try my best (and often fail) to do that, but I try.

But, to me, the point of listening to someone else’s perspective is to truly understand what they believe and what they want.

We’ve heard what White Supremacists and Nazis want. They want to believe they are superior.

They want to believe they have a right to subjugate people who are different. They mistakenly perceive that equality for all will somehow hurt them and rob them of their identity.

I listened, I understood, and now I disagree and say no. There’s nothing in the Nazi viewpoint that I can meet halfway.

I believe in free speech. Nazis can say what they want. And then we get to respond. Freedom of speech is not freedom of consequence.

It feels very odd to me to post things like this because saying NAZIS ARE BAD AND I DISAGREE WITH THEM seems like saying “the sky is blue” or “A lot of people like Star Wars.” It should just be a given.

But we’re at a point in our history, that it’s not. There are plenty of people who quietly hold these beliefs. So I think it’s important to loudly, repeatedly condemn the beliefs of Nazis and White Supremacists.

I think it’s important to not give them any rhetorical wiggle room. If you march down a public street holding a Nazi flag or NEXT to someone who is holding a Nazi flag, you are unambiguously declaring your ideology. If you defend that ideology as just another perspective or even “economic anxiety,” you are siding with White Supremacy.

And I believe Nazi ideology has not, does not, and will never “make America great.”


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The Politics of Shutting Up

This is a post about politics. I hope it’s calm and rational.

After the horrific shooting(s), many politicians and pundits kept saying they hoped this would help people on social media tone down the rhetoric. I’m all for stating your opinion with clarity, calmness, and understanding. Sometimes, as a comedian, I want to punch harder to make my point, but I try to state my perspective and opinion clearly and respectfully, in general.

That said, all the statements about toning down the partisan attacks really bother me. People kept saying things along the lines of we should all be in this together instead of attacking people over policy differences. And we need to remember we’re all humans and not get so heated over politics. Those are great sentiments, but to me, there is something dark lurking under them.

I feel this is a way of silencing people with legitimate concerns and beliefs and getting them to go along with the status quo.

Politics and policies are not some outside thing to being a human. They should not be a taboo topic to bring up at the dinner table. They’re the process by which we make decisions that impact every tiny part of our lives. They represent huge differences in philosophical approaches to how humans should co-exist in a society.

Politics shouldn’t be a dirty word. They shouldn’t be something that gets swept under the carpet. They should be discussed regularly and with conviction. It’s not always fun. I would rather talk to you about Batman than debate with you about politics. But it’s necessary. It’s our responsibility as part of a society.

For example, I am opposed to the GOP healthcare bill. That is not “just politics.” I believe the bill will cause people I know, and someday probably myself, to choose between poverty and death. That is something I think we should talk about. When your life is actually at risk, you might get a little heated.

I understand the shooting in Virginia is awful. If the response from many politicians is that it makes some of them come together with a renewed sense of bi-partisanship, that’s a great thing to come out of a horrible tragedy.

But it alarms me to see the primary reaction to this tragedy be: Citizens on social media should tone it down.

Here is a strong political opinion stated without anger or venom to any specific ideology: I would like our politicians to do something about gun violence. I’m not making a fiery argument about exactly what. I just want every politician who is concerned with the “tenor of social media” to also acknowledge America has a massive problem with gun violence. And then start discussing it. Do the actual work of politics: Exchange views, debate, compromise, write legislation. If it doesn’t work, start over.

I’ll do my best to keep a calm, reasonable tone and an open mind. But I won’t be told to be quiet by politicians who will not admit there is an obvious problem that needs their attention.

Now I need to go write some jokes about Batman.

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Join The Resistance

Speeches are meant to inspire. Donald Trump’s inaugural speech inspired me to resist Trump. His anger, his incompetence, his vision of America, his weird too-long tie fashion. All of it.

I’m glad the inauguration is over. I’m glad the peaceful transition of power has happened.

I believe we can hold multiple perspectives. I respect the office of the President. I have no respect for our new President.

I will not wait and see what he does, because he’s already repeatedly demonstrated who he is.

He thrives on ugly conflict, he blatantly lies with astounding regularity, he is at best guilty of laughing about sexual assault and quite possibly guilty of the actions themselves. He is riddled with conflicts of interest, he’s nominated a cabinet designed to tear apart the departments they’re supposed to lead, and he and/or his staff are currently under investigation for colluding with a foreign power.

Over the years, I’ve tried to be relatively gentle about politics as I make my way through my life and career as a weird little comedy person. I value being open-minded and hearing other perspectives.

I’ve been open-minded. I’ve heard Trump’s perspective and I reject it.

I think it’s important to speak and act. And I think it’s all valuable. Petitions, protests, marches, calling legislators, sharing legitimate news, making jokes, and even posting dumb pop culture memes.

I value the right of self-expression. I’m a comedy guy who likes pop culture. We tell stories not just for entertainment but for inspiration on how to approach the challenges of the real world.

For my personal self-expression, this Star Wars sticker on my calendar represents my plans for 2017.

I hope for the best, I attempt to remain positive, keep a sense of humor, listen to the voices of the people most threatened by the actions of the new administration, and when necessary, join the resistance.


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Two Different Ideas

I have to get back to comedy. Like, literally, I have a show to finish preparing. The world rolls on and so does my promoting.

I love comedy because a joke is smashing two disparate ideas together. For example, this is both another dumb navel-gazing blog post by a ridiculously privileged white guy AND it’s me expressing my fundamental right of freedom of speech. Comedy!

But, for me, right now, this is about separating disparate ideas. Based on the election of Trump, we know that a lot of Americans feel unheard. Voting for Trump was the way they felt they could be heard.

People who are sick of elites truly believe a billionaire who refuses to pay personal taxes is the best choice. Comedy!

People who think Washington doesn’t work elected a man who has no idea how Washington works. Comedy!

We could have had the most qualified candidate ever who also happens to be a woman. Instead we have the least qualified candidate ever who also happens to be a serial sexual predator. Comedy? Tragedy? Terror?

A lot of us are wrestling with how to react to Trump’s victory. Should we be angry? Should we lash out? Should we take the high road and try to be understanding?

This is the best I can come up with for myself right now:
I want to be capable of holding two different ideas.

I will respect the office of the Presidency.
I will not respect the person holding that office if they continue to advocate racist, sexist, and xenophobic thoughts and actions.

I can be empathetic to people who voted for Trump.
I can not respect the idea of turning away immigrants, repealing health insurance people depend on to literally stay alive, threatening marriage equality, denying climate change, and on and on.

I can respect people who disagree with me.
I can’t and won’t respect some of their ideas and opinions.

I can support an honorable, peaceful transition of power.
I can’t support normalizing some of the most hateful views espoused by the incoming leader.

I will try to resist hyperbole and overreaction.
I will also continue to speak up, make jokes, post on social media, and use my free speech to say no to hateful rhetoric and policies that are, without hyperbole, very similar to Hitler.

In my opinion, Trump and the current version of the Republican Party put some of the fundamental beliefs of America, including but not limited to the idea that we are all equal, in grave risk.
I will try not to give in to anger, but I will FIGHT.

Now I’m going to try to write some jokes.

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Burn in Hell: A Ghostbusters Movie Review


Movies! I like them! I spend a lot of time thinking about them! Sometimes I talk to friends about them without recording it for a podcast and it seems like a WASTE. So I’m going to make an effort to post more reviews like this one of Captain America Civil War. The reviews will be broken down into SEVEN categories: My Twitter Review, Why I Saw This Movie, Big Theme, Favorite Things, Questionable Things, Favorite Lines, and What This Film Inspires Me To Do. SPOILER LEVEL: There are only mild spoilers! Let’s do this!



Like a lot of people, I’m a fan of the original Ghostbusters. I remember next to nothing about the sequel, and I really like the episode of the cartoon where they just straight-up fight CTHULHU. Or as they call the unspeakable monster, Cathulhu.

I’m also a big fan of horror comedy in general. Both horror and comedy function on tension and sudden surprise–but with the different goals of screaming or laughing. It’s fun to see them mashed-up in an attempt to create the perfect audience noise of a laugh-scream. I’m also delighted by the contrast of truly terrifying malevolent creatures going up against nature’s idiots: comedians.

The original Ghostbusters took the old “monsters plus idiots” formula of Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein and pushed it in a new direction by making the comedy idiots pro-actively chase the monsters.

The new Ghostbusters movie felt like another step in the evolution of the genre: horrible monsters versus comedian idiots who are (gasp) LADIES!

Sadly, the monsters they faced were not just in the movie, but lurking on YouTube and Twitter and the subbiest of sub-reddits across the internet.

I was (and am) thrilled with the casting of the new movie. I think equality is important for the sake of equality, but I also think new voices and perspectives make our art and entertainment fresher and more interesting. I think breaking down gender barriers is good for everyone. I personally don’t want to be defined solely by a stereotypical masculine archetype any more than I think women should be confined to specific, outdated feminine stereotypes. I don’t think anyone anywhere on the gender spectrum should be limited in what roles they can play in the story of our culture. More on that below.

I genuinely enjoyed the movie as a movie. (Even though I thought there were a lot of plot issues and missed opportunities, I laughed the entire time and walked out of the theater very happy.) But I also think Ghostbusters is an important step forward culturally, artistically, and I hope, financially. If this review can sway even one person to go see the movie, it will be worth my time. Ghostbusters had a great opening weekend, but since it got locked out of China, its ultimate undebatable financial success still depends on its second and third weekends in theaters. There’s a lot of distraction between Star Trek and San Diego Comic-Con and whatever the hell is happening at the Republican National Convention, but if you want to see a variety of people and voices in the theater I hope you go bust some sexists’ predictions and see the movie in theaters.


I thought the movie had two strangely complimentary themes: Friendship and F**k the haters.

I enjoyed that the movie built its foundation on the bonds of friendship between the Ghostbusters. Initially, between Erin Gilbert and Abby Yates but building between all of the central characters–Jillian Holtzmann, Patty Tolan, and even big, dumb, beautiful, and beloved (by me) Kevin. The emphasis on friendship and shared experience made you care about the characters instead of just making them puzzle pieces to act out a plot or what passes for a plot in a lot of modern comedies i.e. getting diarrhea. Mostly importantly to me, it allowed a lot more of the comedy to come from character moments.

A lot of that friendship was forged by facing down haters. The haters took many forms: Bosses, the government, ghosts, pale guys, YouTube commenters, etc. Outside of a few specific and pointed lines (“ain’t no bitches gonna bust no ghosts” was a great line), it felt very universal. I think the best storytelling is reaching the universal through the very specific. Most of us are not brilliant, well educated, hilarious women who fight ghosts professionally, but life is challenging for all of us. We all have days where we feel like the forward movement in our lives is blocked by a different asshole with each step. For every step, a new asshole. (It’s not a saying, but it should be.) For me, the movie was an incredibly cathartic experience of seeing four very specific characters overcoming that very universal feeling.


Actual jokes:
I feel like a lot of modern comedies just point the camera at a funny person and let them make faces, weird noises, and generally improvise. It’s very broad comedy because it’s not grounded in the character or the moment. It’s just throwing potential trailer moments at a demographic and hoping they stick. I think a huge part of Deadpool‘s surprise success was that it was full of specific, structured, well delivered JOKES. From the initial trailers, I was terrified that Ghostbusters would just point the camera at Melissa McCarthy and make her do “bits.” Instead, there were a ton of specific thoughtful combinations of words and ideas that formed actual humor jokes based on the characters and the situations. I’m sad that that feels novel, but thrilled about how much I laughed because this comedy movie had actual jokes.

Kristen Wiig:
Kate McKinnon and her character Holtzmann deserve every syllable of praise typed or spoken and a million more. Leslie Jones and Melissa McCarthy were both great, but for my personal comedy taste, I thought Kristen Wiig was amazing. I’m a big fan of what I’ll call “leading person comedy.” The kind of character who is not intrinsically the zany one, but a character who does the heavy lifting on holding up the plot and the heart of the thing but still manages to be super funny. Wiig’s performance might not be as memorable when you first walk out of the theater, but she walked a fine line of being vulnerable, relatable, tough, and consistently hilarious.

Chris Hemsworth:
Nowhere near as important as four women in lead comedy roles in a reboot of a beloved previously all-male man all the time men film BUT it was great to see Chris Hemsworth who is normally a great, big stud play a great, big idiot. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s great to see stereotypes of all kinds played with and I want to live in a world where our biggest action heroes can also be beloved comedy idiots.

Everything at the metal concert:
I have always loved the inherent weirdness of heavy metal and this scene mocked and celebrated the weirdness of worshipping demons and being super precious about your chord progression at the same time. Also, for me, one of the most successful mash-ups of horror and comedy in the movie.

It wasn’t just a movie, it was an EVENT.
I was lucky to see the movie on Friday the 15th, opening night, 8 pm in the Dome at the Arclight Theater in Hollywood with several hundred people. Granted, this is an ideal time and place to see a movie if you want to get a super excited, communal experience. There were many lines I didn’t hear because there was too much laughter, there were cheers for the main characters and all the cameos of the classic actors, screams of delight in moments of the heroes’ victory, there were other noises that might have been moans of sexual awakening, there were honest quiet moments where a few jokes didn’t land. I think I moaned in comedy joy at Kevin’s glasses. But it was more than just an audience enjoying a movie. It felt like an explosion of joy at experiencing something truly DIFFERENT. I’m thrilled that I got to have that experience and I think it makes seeing the movie in theaters rather than waiting for Blu Ray or streaming worth it.


Bill Murray’s role:
I was bummed by Bill Murray’s role in the movie. Not really the role, but the execution. I like the idea of Bill Murray playing the pompous, establishment character who exists to shake his head disapprovingly and doubt the “inferiors” around him. It’s the kind of character Bill Murray usually attacked with comedy in his younger days. So it’s a neat idea that Bill Murray basically plays his own anti-archetype. But unlike most of the movie, he didn’t have many jokes to work with. The character wasn’t fun to hate. He just bummed me out. Which might have worked if he was used as a foil to get some great comedy out of our new heroes, but the whole scene felt flat. I think it would’ve been an amazing feat to use Bill Murray as the ultimate asshole and even make the audience FURIOUS but he was just a truly unlikeable character and then he was gone. All the other cameos felt like celebrations and this was literally and figuratively throwing Bill Murray out the window.

Villain’s Scheme and Ghost Rules
I’m glad that the plot was new and not the very Lovecraftian summoning of a great old one from the 1984 Ghostbusters. I liked the idea that the villain was a “pale, sad one” who wanted to get power for himself but I thought that idea was underdeveloped. The movie had great moments celebrating how much our heroes value knowledge. I would’ve loved a scene where the heroes laid out the rules of the ghostly realm and its interaction with the mortal plane a little bit more clearly. I think that would have upped our investment in the story even more. The fact that his plan stopped and started a bit too much in the second act also undermined the huge amount of forward energy the audience seemed to feel every time our heroes had a victory.

Mysterious Editing
Without going into too many details, I felt like there were some weird choices in the editing. It felt like bits of logic were maybe left on the cutting room floor. And one big scene that seemed to have moved from the movie itself into the credits for time. It’s rare that I look forward to the extended version of a movie on Blu Ray, but I think and hope there’s a longer cut of the movie which flows better in the second half and doesn’t skip any beats in the relationship of the awesome characters.

So those are some fairly major critiques, but they didn’t really impact my enjoyment of the movie. To me, it’s so successful as a comedy and as a vehicle for new voices that those thrills far outweigh some of the typical big budget summer movie and reboot problems.


“Face bidet”- Garret

Why: This was the first joke-joke in the movie and I was thrilled to hear an actual joke (and a funny one) right off the bat. Also, my wife and I have both worked in historic mansions and museums over the years and this joke nailed that vibe. Talk to me about Humphrey Man-Lifts someday.

“One? Two? Is it one?” – Holtzmann

Why: I love the subversion of escalation. It’s also the kind of almost Marx Brothers-esque word play you don’t hear in comedies as often.

“Okay, room full of nightmares” -Patty

Why: This line is the perfect mash-up of horror and comedy. It comes from that character’s voice but represents a relatable human reaction to confronting something horrific.

“Burn in hell.” -Erin

Why: I loved Kristen Wiig’s delivery. It felt like these weren’t the words she meant to say in reaction to being quoted a monthly rent, but she couldn’t stop herself from letting the sub-text become text.

“Mike Hat.” -Kevin

Why: I loved Kevin’s whole interview scene. All of his absurd jokes were delivered dead pan and made even funnier by the Ghostbusters reaction. It was particularly fun to see Melissa McCarthy stare at big, dumb Kevin like he’s an idiot.

Holtzmann licking the weapon she designed – Holtzmann

Why: It’s not a line, but it sums up a lot of her weirdness, her energy, her forward momentum. It’s strange and specific and makes sense for her character. It also feels iconic. Twenty or thirty years from now when there’s a reboot of this Ghostbusters movie, it’s going to be the thing the new heroes do to nod to the classic 2016 Ghostbusters.


Write more comedy and horror mash-ups myself, keep supporting different voices in art and entertainment to the best of my ability, and look into purchasing a face bidet.

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Filed under Comedy Review, Uncategorized