Category Archives: Comedy Real Life

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.

3 Comments

Filed under Comedy Real Life

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Comedy Real Life, Uncategorized

A Certain Point of View

ACertainPointOfView

Today is May, 4th. Also known as Star Wars Day because of the dumb pun “may the fourth be with you.” I hate puns. But I love Star Wars more so I’m thrilled to embrace the celebration. And, clearly, I’m not alone in my love of that brilliant, weird, dark, goofy galaxy far, far away.

But, of course, when something makes a lot of people happy on the internet, it pisses other people off. During the build-up to The Force Awakens, I read a Telegraph article with the clickbaity title “Star Wars fans: for God’s sake, get a grip, it’s only a movie.” The article was the typical vitriol arguing that liking Star Wars was fine, but why would grown adults cry about it?

I understand the perspective. I have always loved Star Wars both sincerely and ironically. On my Star Wars themed comedy album Rebel Scum (recorded before the release of The Force Awakens) I defined Star Wars like this:

“It’s a series of movies, books, video games, etc. that tells the story of a bunch of space wizards who keep cutting each other’s hands off with laser swords. It’s been a dominant force in our culture for almost forty years even though we all pretty much agree only one of the movies is actually good.”

That sounds dismissive, but I mean that as a compliment. From the day of its release, Star Wars has been more than a movie. It’s a phenomenon. Star Wars is like a huge plate of nachos. Ultimately, the movies themselves are like the chips. They’re solid and delicious but they are a delivery system for cheese, guacamole, salsa, memories, relationships, old friends long gone, etc.

Last year, right after the trailer was released for The Force Awakens, I went to the Star Wars Celebration convention in Anaheim, California. I’ve attended a lot of conventions. When I first approached the convention center, I was uneasy. I was concerned it would feel like San Diego Comic-Con. I was afraid it would be hot and packed, filled with people who are having fun, but are also desperate to get the next thing: an autograph, an exclusive action figure, a spot in a panel, a toilet stall to themselves so they can figure out how to urinate through their Steampunk Boba Fett costume.

My concerns were almost immediately assuaged.

Seconds after I walked into the convention center I saw my favorite cosplay I’ve ever seen. I immediately asked the person if I could take their picture. I’ve never done that before.

The cosplay was this: a person dressed as the action figure version of a character known as Hammerhead.

Here’s a little background on Hammerhead. He was one of the most bizarre and truly alien aliens featured in the Cantina scene of A New Hope.

He was one of the four “cantina creatures” made into action figures by Kenner. Because this was the wild halcyon days of movie tie-in merchandise, Kenner just used the film’s loose production names for characters as the names of the action figures.

As a result, a lot of the original Star Wars action figures have names that now sound like horrible slurs: Hammerhead, Walrus Man, Prune Face, etc.

Of course, the character once known as Hammerhead has been fleshed out a bit in all the expanded fiction since then. He’s an Ithorian named Momaw Nadon. He was actually the High Priest of Tafanda Bay on his home planet of Ithor, but he was banished after revealing agricultural secrets to the Empire in a desperate attempt to save his planet’s jungle from being decimated by turbolasers. So, he ended up on Tatooine, day-drinking in Chalmun’s Cantina while listening to Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes play some good old jizz-wailing music. (All of this can be verified on Wookieepedia.)

But we didn’t know or care about any of that back in the day. He was just a super freakish, super cool brown alien with long fingers and big feet wearing a blue onesie that looked strangely similar to James Bond’s terrycloth bathrobe from Goldfinger.

And we loved him. He was technically my brother’s action figure so while I got to play with him, I never truly owned Hammerhead. I just coveted him.

I still remember the day my brother bought him. We were moving across the country from Minnesota to Oregon. We stopped at a Children’s Palace toy store along the way. Our parents said we were behaving well on the cross country trip so we could each buy an action figure. We decided to both get cantina creatures. My brother picked out Hammerhead and I got Walrus Man.

We played with those action figures for years. One day, we decided to simulate an action packed battle between all the bounty hunters and day-drinking Cantina scum. We set up our figures all across our room and took turns firing at one another’s characters by shooting rubber bands to blast them off their perch.

My brother had knocked over most of my figures, but Bossk was still standing. The reptilian bounty hunter aimed his laser rifle carefully and took a shot at Hammerhead who was perched high on the top post of our bunk beds.

The rubber band blaster bolt grazed Hammerhead’s arm. He spun around and he teetered for a moment then suddenly toppled over, his weird alien legs kicking in the air.

As a comedian and a fan of comedy, I can say, in that moment, Hammerhead performed one of the best pratfalls I’ve ever seen.

My brother and I laughed and laughed and then retrieved Hammerhead from the pillow we’d placed beneath the bed to break his fall.

Many years later, I walked into the Anaheim Convention Center, and saw that action figure walking around.

Within five seconds of seeing the Hammerhead Action Figure cosplayer, all of those memories flooded into my head. All of the ridiculously detailed Star Wars factoids, the smell of the plastic, the details on his blaster, the image of those brown alien legs flailing in comedic majesty and falling off my bunk bed.

All of it.

So while I understand how absolutely ridiculous Star Wars is, the one thing I can never agree with is that it’s just a movie.

So, thanks, wonderful weird human who decided to dress up as an action figure of a character with two seconds of screen time in a decades-old movie and walk around a convention center spreading joy.

You made me very happy and I’m sure you made Momaw Nadon proud.

May the Force be with you, Hammerhead.

IMG_5445

A version of this article was originally published on the great Alice Lee’s essay site The Yearbook Office. Thanks, Alice! If you’d like to hear more of Joseph’s thoughts on Star Wars, you can check out his podcast Force Center and follow him on twitter.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Comedy Real Life

The Top Ten BEST Years in the 1990s!

TopTenBestYearsOfThe90s

You know you’re a 90s kid when you can’t stop thinking about the 90s!

And you know you’ve become a 90s adult when the ceaseless forward movement of time pulls you further and further away from that glorious decade and the harsh realities of the universe reveal themselves in your somber visage as you stare at your dull reflection in the cracked plastic of an old Pearl Jam CD and mournfully whisper, “Don’t call me daughter.”

Anyway, the point is a lot of people have said a lot of things about the 1990s, but I think this comprehensive review of the top ten BEST years of the 1990s will get some clicks make a substantive contribution to our appreciation of this beloved decade.

10) 1990.

It was pretty good. But let’s be honest, it still had some 1980s in it. Guns N’ Roses was still a respected band and Clinton wasn’t even President yet. If you said “Where’s The Beef?” people would still laugh even though that was a reference from the stupid 1980s.

9) 1995.

Meh. First off, the word “meh” wasn’t popularized in this year so that’s a strike against it. Also, the James Bond movie GoldenEye was released. In the face of the first wave of political correctness, the film grappled with the question: Is James Bond still relevant in a post-Cold War world? JAMES BOND MOVIES ARE STILL TRYING TO ANSWER THAT QUESTION 20 YEARS LATER, SO WAY TO DROP THE BALL, GOLDENEYE.

8) 1997.

Batman & Robin came out and our cries of pain merged with the screams of all the modems trying to connect to the internet. But the GoldenEye video game came out and we all played Odd Job and threw our deadly hats into our opponents’ crotches so there was that.

7) FRIENDS.

While not technically a year, it’s still one of the best parts of the 90s. Haircuts, relationships, that monkey, how YOU doin’? CLASSIC.

6) 1998.

I got set-up on a blind date at a rave. My date took a bunch of Ecstasy and threw up on my shoes while we were dancing. I cleaned my shoes off, went home, and watched an episode of Chris Carter’s non-X-Files show Millennium on a videocassette. A VIDEOCASSETTE. FUCK YOU, 1998! FUCK YOU ON A STACK OF BROKEN AOL DISCS!

5) 1991.

People listened to Ice Ice Baby non-ironically. What more is there to say?
Al Gore also invented the internet this year though so that bumped it up on the list.

4) 1999.

People were afraid computers wouldn’t know what year it was and the world would end so we all bought a lot of cans of creamed corn and danced to a Prince song from the 1980s. A bunch of assholes didn’t go see Office Space or Iron Giant in the theater making 1999 truly the year of the asshole.

3) 1993.

Bill Clinton played a saxophone and the American dream was reborn. Jurassic Park lied to us about raptors and we dried our tears on flannel shirts. But pagers were still around, so.

2) 1992, 1994, and 1996

It’s impossible to choose between these years because my life generally goes better in even numbered years and I also don’t want to spend a bunch of time verifying what happened in which year on Wikipedia, but basically Pokemon, Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards, the LA riots, The Simpsons but when it was good, the Macarena maybe, Pulp Fiction, Snoop Dogg, Kramer opens doors funny, Saturday Night Live maintained the same relative quality based on your age and experience with comedic tropes that it has had for its entire 40 year run, some sports teams won things, and people still regularly put two or more spaces after a period.    It was great.    Really, really great.    It was.

1) 2015.

That’s right! 2015 is the number one best year of the 90s. We’ve learned a lot about the 90s since the 90s and in our wisdom we can now have a more perfect 90s. Better Clinton, better X-Files, the 90s-born phrase “Bye, Felicia” has reached the zenith of its power, if we squint we can pretend Colin Hanks just IS Tom Hanks, and more than anything we can pop on our cool rose-colored glasses and cherry pick the best moments of an otherwise normal decade where our collective interest in pop culture began to circle back in and devour itself.

FUCK YEAH, THE 90s! MODEM NOISE!

Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this post you can make more comedy happen by supporting me on Patreon! Thanks!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Comedy Real Life

THE CONSUMER AWAKENS

TheConsumerAwakens

This is the story of going to Target to buy two things:
A Star Wars action figure and a bottle of booze.

These are two items I’ve bought a lot in my life. I overindulged in both in my youth, but now that I’m an adult man-child, I’ve learned to enjoy them both in moderation. Buying them together would be a dream come true.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve coveted Star Wars action figures. When I was six years old, a friend of my parents visited. He showed me a five dollar bill and a little bottle of blowing bubbles. He said if I could catch a bubble and bring it back to him, I could have the five dollar bill. That bill wasn’t money to me. It was a coupon for the Hoth Luke I’d recently seen at Target. I didn’t stop to think whether or not catching a bubble was possible. SPOILER: I got a lot of exercise but I didn’t catch a bubble.

This story is a little snapshot of my relationship with action figures which probably explains why I like having a drink every now and again. I spent most of my life living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Targets do NOT sell hard liquor in Minnesota. Liquor stores aren’t even open on Sundays. Now that I live in Los Angeles, I can stroll into a Target on a Sunday afternoon and buy a massive bottle of booze. The first time I did it, I was shocked I didn’t get struck by lightning.

Since I knew I could get alcohol without being smited, I figured why not go to Target and buy a new The Force Awakens action figure and a bottle of booze at the same time? And why not do it ON A SUNDAY? What could possibly go wrong? How much disgust and shame can one Target cashier have in their eyes at one time?

LET’S FIND OUT.

As I began my adventure, I was very excited.

IMG_7047

I drove to the Target closest to my home in Hollywood. This particular Target is located in the beautiful mall known as the Glendale Galleria. I consider it a historically significant mall since this is where Arnold Schwarzenegger first fights the T-1000 in Terminator 2. This is my “I’ll be back” face.

IMG_7052

As I walked into Target, I was excited to look at The Force Awakens display. I didn’t expect to find a good action figure. I thought maybe there would be a First Order Stormtrooper or a bunch of the new Resistance Fighters. As a kid, I remembered the dire days as Star Wars‘ popularity waned and the shelves were nothing but a bunch of Sad Lobots. I expected that. What I got was LITERALLY NOTHING.

IMG_7055

There were no action figures. I should specify there were no 3 3/4 action figures. AND YET THE AISLE STILL HAD A BUNCH OF STUFF.

IMG_7064

I instantly became grumpy about this. (SIDE-NOTE: Once when I was grumpy, my wife, Sara, asked: “Who put a nickel in your grandpa pants?”) There was definitely a nickel in my grandpa pants. I mean, I’m happy there’s a wide variety of Star Wars toys, but, to me the 3 3/4 action figures is the main feature of the toy aisle. A full toy aisle with no 3 3/4 action figures is like a gin and tonic with no actual gin in it. TERRIFYING.

Still, there was plenty of stuff. Disney has merchandised the living shit out of Star Wars which was already one of the most merchandised things ever. I felt if I stood still in the toy aisle too long, a Disney employee would walk in, put a Star Wars label on me, and sell me for five bucks. There was Star Wars Monopoly, Chess, remote control ships, a basketball hoop.

IMG_7084

A BASKETBALL HOOP SO YOU CAN RELIVE ALL THOSE GREAT FATHER AND SON BASKETBALL GAMES VADER AND LUKE PLAYED IN STAR WARS EPISODE THAT NEVER HAPPENED. There was miniature game from some strange but intriguing alternate universe where Han Solo was played by Rick Moranis.

IMG_6275

They had a whatever the fuck this is.

IMG_7085

Still, I was on a mission and failure was not an option. I had to find some bit of fun Star Wars merchandise. Something that would pair well with a bottle of booze. I found something.

IMG_7062

The mask worn by Kylo Ren, the new big bad in The Force Awakens. The mask was for children but it totally fit my tiny adult man-head. I decided to take one more look around and see if I could find something more action figure like. I kind of did.

IMG_7067

A Kylo Ren Funko Pop Vinyl. It’s a Target exclusive because this Kylo Ren’s head bobbles. Because nothing says evil dark Force warrior like a bobblehead. Still, I like the Funko Pops. Particularly the villainous ones because I feel like if Darth Maul knew he was a cute little bobblehead it would feed his rage and only make his connection to the Dark Side of the Force stronger.

I grabbed my mask and Funko Pop and went to the liquor aisle. I was happy to be there.

IMG_7073

Seeing a liquor aisle in a Target still feels impossible–like riding a unicorn or catching a bubble. I put my Kylo Ren items down to peruse the liquor. A child approached and I growled at them like a wolf protecting their young and felt some actual, no-joke shame. I decided to keep Kylo safe.

IMG_7074

Unlike the toy aisle, the booze was well-stocked. I found an old friend.

IMG_7076It was time to head to the cash register. The moment of truth. Would I be judged? Would I be mocked? Was this too weird? Would someone perform a citizen’s arrest? I put the items down in a pleasing, still life type tableau and took a picture.

IMG_7078

At first, the tired young cashier wasn’t paying much attention. She saw the Jameson’s and asked for my ID. I handed it to her. She looked quickly and handed it back.

She looked down and took in the mask and the toy. She picked them both up and said, “Oh, I get it. You can wear the mask and then this guy will be like mini-you.”

Amazing. There was no judgment. In fact, she started to create some head-canon about how I was going to play with these items. Then she said, “Do you want a brown paper bag?”

“For the Jameson’s?” I asked.

“For all of it,” she said. “So no one sees,” she added.

“Sure,” I said.

She packed up my bottle of booze, my child’s mask, and my cute toy of an evil wizard and said, “Well…have fun.”

“Don’t worry,” I said, “I have a plan.”

I wasn’t sure what I meant by that as I said it. “It’s kind of for a blog” seemed worse. Regardless, “I have a plan” appeared to assuage her concerns for my mental health.

“Well, good,” she said. “What can go wrong when you have a plan?”

I smiled and nodded, grabbed my brown paper bag of booze and toys and headed out of the store. The sun was just starting to set. The clouds were a blaze of of orange and pink. It looked like Cloud City should be hanging in the sky.

I didn’t get the action figure I was looking for, but in exchange I got something different, something even stranger. No matter how much Star Wars content there is in the world, I’ll always think of Luke Skywalker staring off into the sunset, thinking about his destiny. No matter how old of a man-child I am, I will always relate to that. I will always be chasing that bubble.

And I will have fun doing it. I got home and asked for my wife’s help for my last photo. My mask fit perfectly.

KyloJameson

I was thrilled with both my booze and my Star Wars toy.

But I’ll only be taking one of them out of the package.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoy, you can make more weird comedy posts like this possible by supporting me on Patreon. And you can check out my new Star Wars comedy album Rebel Scum here!

2 Comments

Filed under Comedy Real Life

Why We Shouldn’t Kill Email

WhyWeShouldntKillEmail

Hey Entire World!

I’m writing with an urgent message: Please, please, please don’t stop using email.

I know email is maddening. It’s almost impossible to say the word “email” without literally shaking your fist at the sky, but here are some reasons to feel GOOD about answering emails.

EMAILS ARE MADE OF PEOPLE

Emails are a problem because when you answer them, they’re not done. In fact, if you respond, you’re likely to get another one back. It’s like trying to clean your office, but every time you put one book on a shelf, another book throws itself off. And, just to add insult to injury, it’s probably this book.

IMG_1608

We all want to get to Inbox Zero. It’s one of the most thrilling, exotic feelings in the world. In the next ten years, there will be a James Bond movie called Inbox Zero. That’s how exciting it is.

Inbox Zero Final

But Inbox Zero is a fantasy. Like a healthy cheeseburger or a polite TSA agent. It’s nice to think about, but it’s not reality. There will always be more emails because emails are not THINGS. They are messages from other human beings.

When you say you want to achieve and remain at Inbox Zero what you’re saying is this:

I want to say one last thing to everyone I know and then I want them to shut up forever.

Okay, after I typed that sentence I could really see the appeal, but come on. We have to communicate with one another and at least for business-type stuff, email is the best.

WHY NOT-EMAIL THINGS SUCK

Email is being eroded by all of our other forms of communication including but not limited to Facebook Messenger, Twitter DMs, texts, gchats, sky writing, ravens, and, if you’re a savage, phone calls.

I think Facebook messages, twitter DMs, and other personal social media messaging systems are good for joking around with pals and ASKING FOR PEOPLE’S EMAIL ADDRESSES.

Social media sites are doing a great job cutting into email’s turf. But I don’t think we should let them. Look, Facebook wants to cut in on everyone’s turf. If Facebook thought it could make money off kidney dialysis, you’d be in the hospital trying to get enough “likes” to stave off an attack of the gout.

Phone calls should be used by two people in my opinion: Your mom and 22 year old improv students who are acting out funny, oldie-time scenes set in 1982.

I’m exaggerating slightly, but doing business over the phone is very difficult for me because then I have to remember important things.

I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday. And yes, I tried to google it. Luckily, I posted it on social media, so I know it was this:

IMG_6434

I was trying to make a cheese sandwich, but I was stressed by all the email replies I was waiting for so I just gave up. (Please feel free to email me about any food photography job leads.)

Anyway, the point is this:

Phone calls are the uncanny valley of human communication.

They’re not quite efficient, they’re not quite intimate, they just sit in the middle, freaking me out.

Texts are great, but not for business. It’s too easy to make a mistake with texts. I’ve sent texts meant for my wife to my stylist three different times. I have NEVER accidentally sent my stylist an email saying, “I love you. Can we have Chipotle for dinner?”

Which brings me to tone.

THE E IS FOR EXCUSE

I know we’re all in a rush and we no longer have time to write emails with the formality of old Civil War letters. I know we can’t do this:

My dearest co-worker,

I hope this beautiful spring day provides some much needed bliss to balance the moribund mood surrounding our printer’s regretful lack of a cyan ink cartridge.

Speaking of said cartridge, I humbly request you replace it.

My best to your husband, Mortimer, and both of your cats, Theodore and Winky.

With much love from one cubicle over, your devoted co-worker,
Some asshole

Instead, we get to fire off short, direct missives like this:

Steve, please replace the cyan ink cartridge.

And if that feels too direct, we can add a smilie face.

Steve, please replace the cyan ink cartridge. 🙂

Frankly, we can get away with saying almost anything, if we add a bunch of exclamation points and emoticons, you shitbirds!!!!! 😉

Even better, we can send all of our emails from our phones with the signature “Sent from my iPhone. Please excuse any autocorrects.” With that excuse in place, you can get away with purposely sending this email:

Steve, you bag of crap, please replace the cinnabon dick cabbage!!! 😉

Then, you can just blame it on autocorrect and have a good laugh about it at the water cooler, right after Steve, that bag of crap, replaces the motherfucking cyan ink cartridge.

Because the best way to make an email go away is answering it as completely and fully as humanly possible.

MORE ANSWERS; FEWER EMAILS

Another great way to make email go away is to answer all the questions in the email as opposed to just the first or the last. I used to think I was the only one who had this struggle, but the response to this tweet showed me the light:

I know, I know, I am a monster for sending emails that contain multiple questions and I’m actively working to not do that. But, personally, I would rather send one email with three related questions than THREE SEPARATE EMAILS.

And, yes, I know most people reading this post want to reply with this meme:

Abe-Simpson-yells-at-cloud

And I understand. I just emailed it to myself.

GET OFF MY LAWN AND INTO MY INBOX

In closing, let me say, I know I sound ancient and cranky.

It’s natural that new technology and new forms of communication will erode old ones. Perhaps in a few years, our preferred form of communication will be blinking morse code messages to one another over Periscope. Maybe we’ll all have clunky cellphones glued to our heads like a bunch of sad Lobots.

Sad Lobot

Who knows?

I know email is probably going the way of the dodo or the fax machine or movies that aren’t based on existing intellectual property.

Soon our email inboxes will be totally devoid of real communication. They will be nothing but festering piles of Hot Topic coupons and racist memes from your Aunt Debbie.

But I hope whatever comes to take email’s place is just as fast, searchable, organizable, and efficient.

Because it’s not email’s fault. We will always need to communicate. We will always need Steve to replace the goddamn ink cartridge.

And being able to ask him–without actually speaking to him AND having a record of the conversation–well, dammit, I think that’s worth fighting for.

Anyway, hope you’re well, entire world, and thanks for reading.

All the best,
Joseph

Sent from my Error Justification Device, you ass-bastards.;)

Thanks for reading. You can make comedy blog posts like this possible by supporting me on Patreon. Also, if you want to hear me say comedy words out loud, I’ve got a new album available here. Thanks again.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Comedy Real Life

A POST, REBOOTED

A Post Rebooted

This is the original, classic paragraph of a blog post. The post is about reboots, remakes, and all the re-everythings in modern entertainment. On one hand, I’m fine with reboots. Ghostbusters is a very old movie now. Why not reinvent it for a new generation? Humans often find joy and meaning in passing down tales and myths. On the other hand, studios become frightened to attempt anything new. So they joylessly till the barren soil of your childhood memories until the only thing they haven’t rebooted is your actual youth. Reboots are a gift and a curse.

This is the rebooted version of the original, classic paragraph of a blog post. This edgy, self-aware paragraph is all about reboots, remakes, and it doesn’t have time for a third thing in a list. On one hand, I’m fine with reboots as long as they’re trying hard to be their own thing while also including sly nods to the original. Ghostbusters is ancient now. (Who you gonna call? More like who you gonna text? Demographics!) Why not reinvent the brilliant, original movie for a new, more on fleek, generation? People like stories that get repeated and shit. On the other hand (that’s been removed and replaced with a flaming sword, f yeah), studios are too chickenshit to make new stories. So they just go hardcore nostalgia diving until the only thing they haven’t remade is your actual youth. (That classic line was good so why mess with it?) Reboots aren’t the hero we deserve, but maybe they’re the hero we need.

The third paragraph in the venerable reboot paragraph series knows it needs to shake things up so it took the second, kind-of classic paragraph, put it into Google Translate, turned it into Spanish, and then back into English seven times. In the one hand, I’m fine with reboots, provided they try hard to be his own while including the cunning winks. Ghostbusters is grandfather now. (Who you gonna call? More like you’re gonna finger phone? People are numbers!) Why not reinvent the bright, original movie for a new generation with more flesh? People like stories that are shit repeated. In the other hand (which has been removed and replaced with a hot sword, f positive), the studies are too cowardly to make story originals. So just go diving nostalgia hard until all who have youth are not rebuilt. (Why mess with that line, was classic good?) Restarts are not the hero we deserves, but maybe you’re the hero we need.

This is the fourth rebooted version of the original, classic paragraph of a blog post. This paragraph realizes the third paragraph went too far and wants a nice, simple, family friendly version of that beloved paragraph about reboots, remakes, and more. On one soft hand, reboots are nice. On the other even softer hand, sometimes they’re not. Life is hard, but let’s work together. There’s now a cute child who has made friends with an adorable baby goat at the end of this paragraph.

This is the fifth and FINAL paragraph in this blog post about reboots, remakes, and stuff. This paragraph isn’t even going to be about reboots. It’s just using the general idea for nostalgia purposes. The rest of the paragraph is brand new and we think you’re going to love it because it’s about something we can all relate to. It’s about being young, confused, and looking for your identity. It’s about hope, responsibility, and a dead uncle. This whole paragraph has been about Spider-Man.

Holy shit. People did not like the fifth paragraph and we can’t let it end like that. This is the real final paragraph. Maybe we do need new ideas. Stories that tap deep into our shared human consciousness but approach it from a shockingly fresh perspective. That’s why the rest of this paragraph won’t even be words. It will be a screen capture of emojis. What is the truth of reboots? It’s pretty simple.

REBOOT

Now to sit back and wait for that sweet rebooted emoji money to roll in.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this, you can help make more comedy possible by supporting me on Patreon here!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Comedy Real Life, Uncategorized

Comedy Weeds

Comedy Weeds

I’ve been thinking three things about comedy lately:

1) How much I love it.
2) How angry and outraged comedy is making people.
3) I’m not going to list a third thing, because comedy is all about breaking rules.

Up to a point, it’s natural that comedy challenges and upsets people, but I like to think about how and why.

Partially because it makes me feel better about all the money I spent on my liberal arts degree. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Visual Art, Rhetoric, and Cultural Studies & Comparative Literature. Yes, a BS triple major. It’s an ALMOST useless liberal arts degree.

The one class that has been endlessly valuable to me was a class about comedy theory. A class about analyzing the function and purpose of jokes.

I think about that class every day of my life.

Almost all theories of comedy boil down to this: comedy functions on contrast. We break into laughter when two ideas are smashed together in surprising and satisfying ways. Humans are hard-wired to laugh at incongruity. If you doubt this, go tell a child the sound a duck makes is “moo.” The child will laugh and/or get really mad and hit you with a toy truck.

Every joke has a set-up and a punchline; an expectation and a surprise. Obviously, you can’t just throw two contrasting things together for the hell of it. That’s when you end up with tweets like this:

Citizen Kane and Peanut Butter. #PutTwoThingsTogether

The success of a joke is in the clarity of the set-up and the surprise of the punch-line.

Sometimes, the set-up is an actual line.

Set-up: Why did the chicken cross the road?
Punchline: To get to the other side.

When this joke was new, it killed. The expectation for an elaborate, clever response was set-up and then broken by a simple, obvious response.

A lot of modern technology cracks unwitting set-up and knockdown jokes. For example:

Me: Hey, Google Maps, how should I get to Chipotle from here?
Google Maps: Drive your car into the Pacific Ocean, Joseph.

But a lot of what makes us laugh doesn’t have a literal set-up line. The set-up line is just a “truth” we’ve culturally agreed on.

Back when we culturally agreed that men do not wear dresses, a man wearing a dress was hilarious. Now, not so much. As a joke, it’s tired and expected. As a cultural truth, many of us believe traditional gender norms are changing. Anyone can wear a dress and if you don’t like it you can go drive your car into the Pacific Ocean.

A lot of our humor is getting weirder. Strange cultural truths are being challenged. For example, our long held belief that handsome, charismatic leading men don’t look like otters. But as Benedict Cumberbatch and Tumblr proved, holy shit, that expectation can be broken. And it’s very satisfying.

BenedictOtter

We laugh when we see someone slip and fall on a patch of ice because the sight of another person flailing their limbs in a desperate attempt to stay upright shatters our innate idea of humans as advanced, intelligent beings.

Set-up: I am a dignified, respectable human in control of my body.
Punchline: Ha, ha, motherfucker, you just broke your coccyx.

Comedy, by its nature, is violent. It’s all about breaking, shattering, falling, killing, and driving into the Pacific Ocean.

But just because it’s inherently violent, doesn’t mean it has to be offensive.

I think a lot of outrage about comedy is because of the targets comedians pick. A lot of jokes still function on the agreed upon cultural “truths” that women are whiney or gay people are always flamboyant or all straight men only listen to women talk so they can “hit that puss.” (That last one is an actual joke I heard an actual comedian say out loud on purpose in 2015.)

Sometimes the audience is offended, but often the joke just isn’t funny to a lot of people because we don’t share that truth anymore. The set-up makes no sense so why would we be entertained by the punchline?

People talk about don’t punch down, instead punch up. Which makes sense to me. Don’t make fun of poor people. Instead make fun of the giant asshole corporations that are keeping them poor.

I think that’s a great starting point.

But even if you pick a worthy target for your comedy, it’s still an aggressive violent pursuit. It’s still punching.

If all you want to do with your comedy is punch, that’s great! There are plenty of weeds that need to be pulled out of our cultural garden. If the violent action of tearing a living thing out of the ground can create the positive, healthy reaction of laughter, then we’re already doing well.

Comedy is always destructive. It always will be. It’s always going to rip the weeds out of the garden. But I’m trying to think of clearing the weeds as just the first step. Since we’re tearing shit out anyway, maybe we can plant something new.

A new idea.

A new truth.

A new way for the chicken to cross the road that no one has ever thought of before.

A joke so powerful, it can pay off all of my student loans at once.

I can dream.

Thanks again for reading! If you enjoyed this, you can help make more comedy possible by supporting me on Patreon here!

2 Comments

Filed under Comedy Real Life

Underwear That’s Fun To Wear

UnderwearThatsFunToWear

One of the reward levels on my Patreon is suggesting a topic for a blog post. I was thrilled a few months back when a kind patron suggested “Underoos” as a topic. This patron was shocked and amused that the underwear line was being relaunched for adults. He told me he’d like me to address this question: “Why? I mean, just why?”

For anyone who isn’t familiar with Underoos, they were extremely popular character-based underwear sets that were around from the late ’70s to the early ’90s. They featured a t-shirt and tight little underpants depicting superheroes, Star Wars characters, and more. The packaging declared Underoos were “underwear that’s fun to wear.” In the 1980s, it would go without saying that these are for children. Now, not so much.

As a child, I had Superman Underoos and they made me bitter every time I wore them. I desperately wanted Robin, The Boy Wonder, Underoos. I vividly remember standing in the shopping mall, feverishly pawing through the display looking for Robin Underoos. But the city bus was coming to take us home and it was Superman or nothing.

So I settled.

“Well, I won’t have to settle now,” I thought when I heard Underoos for adults were being released by Hot Topic.

Just a few days after the blog suggestion came in, I was out walking with a friend. We happened to pass a Hot Topic so I checked out my Underoos options.

It was my turn to be shocked and amused. It’s always interesting to revisit things from your childhood because you notice stuff you didn’t as a kid.

For example, I tweeted this.

I mean, I understand Skeletor is a self-involved megalomaniac, but he’s just standing there dreaming, “What if there were underwear of my naked, ripped purple chest and dark, foreboding underwear of my loin-cloth area? AND what if they were available in men’s large?”

Every single fucking thing about it was absurd.

I loved it.

I knew I wanted to get a pair when it was time to write the blog post.

A few weeks later, I added a new milestone goal to my patreon. If I reached the goal, I’d add photos of myself wearing Underoos to this blog post. It was unlocked faster than I thought.

I went back to Hot Topic. All the Skeletor Underoos were gone. Most of the Underoos were gone. I asked the cashier about it. She said they hadn’t been selling very well, but suggested I call some other locations.

After I processed my shock, I, an adult man, called a Hot Topic and said, “Hello. I’m wondering if you have any Skeletor Underoos?”

And the voice on the other end of the phone said, “Oh, sir. I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry, but we’re all out of Skeletor Underoos.”

She waited a moment. I think to see if I started crying.

Then she continued, “And…and I don’t think we’re getting any more. But I know we still have some superheroes on our online store!”

I couldn’t believe it had happened again. I was truly reliving my childhood in the worst way possible: I COULDN’T GET THE UNDEROOS I WANTED.

It was weird, as an adult geek, to be denied something. I’ve become used to our obsession with nostalgia and the huge popularity of everything I loved as a kid. I can buy an ice cube tray shaped like Han Solo’s face, for fuck’s sake. I can have anything, right?

I was determined not to let the bitterness seep in like it had when I was a kid. I couldn’t have Skeletor, but there would still be other good options.

I went online and picked out two of my favorite superheroes as an adult: Batman and Captain America. Sorry, Superman.

I was excited. I found myself legitimately asking the same question my patron had posed: Why?

Why was I, an adult man, excited to order novelty superhero underwear from the internet?

So many things lose their sense of magic and fun as you grow older. It’s easy to get bitter and complacent. Who cares about underwear? Putting them on is just one more damn thing you have to do in the morning.

As an adult, people only have two feelings about other people seeing their underwear: acceptance or hope.

You’re going to be in a horrible car accident or your date is going to go well. Either way, you just want to feel presentable.

I’m happily married, so for me, every day is a date that goes well.

But I don’t think Underoos are about what other people think. They’re not like wearing a t-shirt that says “I Frakking Love Battlestar Galactica.” They’re not about broadcasting a message to other people.

They’re about trying to make a busy, cranky adult support their secret belief that underneath it all they’re a noble hero.

Eventually, my Underoos arrived. First, I tried them on to see what I had really got myself into. The shirts were awesome and comfortable. The colorful extremely tight underpants were, uh, mildly alarming. I briefly regretted the decision to share photos.

But real heroes don’t feel shame. They strap that ridiculous shit on and own it. And then take pictures to put on the internet.

My wife and I had a fun photo shoot.

I felt very heroic as Captain America.

CapPatriotic

I did some brooding as Batman.

BatBrooding

I reflected on the current state of democracy.

CapReflecting

Eventually, I got sleepy.

BatSleepy

All in all, the packaging was right. They were fun to wear.

Thanks,
Joseph

P.S. I am well aware that I can buy Skeletor Underoos for grossly inflated prices on eBay. There aren’t a lot of lines I won’t cross, but buying used underwear from strangers on the internet is one of them.

Thanks again for reading! If you enjoyed this, you can help make more comedy possible by supporting me on Patreon here!

5 Comments

Filed under Comedy Real Life, Uncategorized

The 7 Maybe Best Tabletop Games Ever

The7MaybeBestTabletopGamesEver

I was honored to be a guest on an episode of my friend Wil Wheaton’s awesome show, Tabletop. I played the game CONCEPT with Wil and the great comedy duo Rhett & Link. Here’s a fun screenshot!

JosephTabletopShame

Huge thanks to co-producer of the show Boyan Radakovich and everyone at Geek & Sundry. It was an incredibly fun experience!

I’ve always been a fan of tabletop games, but after I recorded the episode, I thought about how much tabletop games have walked through my life with me. I realized I wasn’t thinking about the BEST games but rather the BEST moments and memories. So here’s my top 7 tabletop memories. Enjoy!

1) DEATH STAR ESCAPE

My first tabletop experience was playing the very early Star Wars board game, Death Star Escape. To my foggy recollection, it was not technically a good game. It was mostly random luck based on the whims of a cheap cardboard spinner. It was sort of like Candy Land, but with more space and death. My parents bought it for my older brother and me, but my brother had little interest in playing it. So I found a more willing partner–my teddy bear. His name was Chocolate. When it came to playing Death Star Escape, he was a cunning warrior. I would take turns spinning for myself and spinning for Chocolate. For some reason, my teddy bear almost always defeated me. This infuriated me. I realize now my teddy bear, Chocolate is clearly a Stih Lord. I still own both Death Star Escape and my teddy bear. Soon there will be a re-match. Chocolate will pay.

2) TRIVIAL PURSUIT

I’ve always loved the title Trivial Pursuit because it sounds like they could have called the game Shit That Doesn’t Matter But You’re Going To Take It Too Seriously Anyway. I was introduced when my Grandmother bought it for us one Christmas. We played it. My Grandmother lost. Mostly because my brother and I could answer all of the comic book and sci-fi questions. The next night, I got up in the middle of the night and discovered my grandmother sitting in the darkness hunched over the Trivial Pursuit cards. Lit only by the demon glow of her Virginia Slim cigarette, she was furiously memorizing the answers to every question. The next day, we played again and she defeated her young grandchildren handily. Well played, Grandma, well played. (She was also a Sith Lord. Always, two there are.)

3) CHEZ GEEK

Eventually, I found better people to game with than my invincible teddy bear and cheating Grandmother. After I graduated from college, I was lucky to stumble into a friend group that was close-knit and family-like. We played many games and we drank many beers and we yelled many things. One of our favorite games was Chez Geek. One of the cards in, I believe, the original deck became my role model. The card was for Mr. Enthusiastic. In the illustration, he wore a t-shirt that read “Liev Schreiber Rules!” It was a happy time in my life and much like Mr. Enthusiastic, I was always up for one more game, one more beer, one more yelling. I had a penchant for being excited about things like poor, maligned Liev Schreiber who was really quite good in the Scream movies. Back then I had no idea I’d later become friends and creative partners with the man who drew Mr. Enthusiastic. Someday, I’ll get a t-shirt that reads “John Kovalic Rules!”

4) THE HILLS RISE WILD

This is my favorite tabletop game ever made. The Hills Rise Wild is bizarre and beautiful. The game has a goal, but the main point is for a bunch of Lovecraft-inspired hillbilly characters to run around shooting each other in the back with shotguns and magic balls of death. The best tactic to survive this game is to just hide in a shack. One game, a friend got upset and yelled that we were all just sitting on our porches drinking lemonade. The next game this was shortened to “Stop drinking Countrytime!” The next game after that it was just, “Stop Countrytiming.” After that it was just an insulting mime routine of an old person swirling a straw in lemonade. I love how even a game about evil cultist hillbillies murdering each other for no reason can create new forms of communication.

5) FURY OF DRACULA

I only played Fury of Dracula a couple of times, but it stands out in my mind because the friend running the game would insist on creating a spooky mood by shoving cheap plastic vampire teeth in his mouth. This would make his speech warped and cute like he was a big, evil baby. There was also a lot of sucking noises as he tried to keep the teeth in place and not drool. That friend is now the VP of a major gaming company. If he really wants to make an impact, I hope he wears his vampire teeth at important meetings.

6) STAR WARS MONOPOLY

About two years ago, some friends bought me a copy of Star Wars Monopoly for Christmas. So I got them together and played it. The fools. Star Wars Monopoly is like any other game of Monopoly, except there’s extra stress because you don’t want Luke Skywalker’s little pewter lightsaber to get bent. I hadn’t played Monopoly in YEARS. We played with the typical house rules where a player can randomly win a bunch of the community chest money back. Of course when you play the game that way, it’s like The Simpsons, it will go on so long you get confused and frightened and you don’t even understand reality anymore. After playing for roughly 27 hours, we agreed to revert to the more basic rules where the rich get richer and the poor are utterly screwed. No bail-outs. No lucky breaks. In almost seconds, Darth Vader totally destroyed everyone. It was a great reminder of the true power of the dark side of capitalism.

7) BRITISH RAILS

I’ve had many gaming partners over the years. Teddy bears, grandmas, drinking buddies, comedy pals, and more. But my favorite partner in recent years has been my wife, Sara. Everyone I know is a ridiculously busy adult and it makes it hard to find time for a gaming night. So for our anniversary a few years ago, my wife and I bought ourselves a two-player game: British Rails! We spent a few months living in the UK and my wife (having worked at the James J. Hill House in St. Paul, Minnesota) is a big fan of locomotive history. The goal of the game is to build a train empire by delivering goods to different cities. It is a nice, slow, calm game that pairs well with a Sunday evening and a giant glass of smokey whisky. But like all tabletop games I’ve ever played, it also pairs well with yelling. And so it was, one peaceful night of gaming, I repeatedly yelled at my wife, “I JUST WANT TO BRING RUBBER TO MOTHERFUCKING CARDIFF.”

Of all the things I’ve yelled while playing Tabletop Games, that might be my favorite. I love tabletop games. They don’t even have to be great games, they just need to create the opportunity to build memories and to accomplish something. I think humans are often at their happiest when they’re striving to do something. There’s a joy in getting lost in the pursuit of a task: escaping the Death Star, defeating your grandchildren, defending the honor of Liev Schreiber, murdering a Lovecraft hobo, spitting through your Dracula teeth, sending Obi-Wan Kenobi to the poor house, or just bringing the rubber to Cardiff.

Wil’s tagline for Tabletop is “Play more games.”

Whenever I hear that, I add in my mind “and bring the rubber to Cardiff.”

Thanks for reading. Thanks for watching the episode. Enjoy your games. Enjoy all the memories they create. Don’t cheat like my grandmother.

Play more games.

Bring the rubber to Cardiff.

If you enjoy my posts, you can help make more happen by supporting me on Patreon. My next post will be about Adult Underoos and thanks to an unlocked Patreon goal it will include photos of me in my underoos. You’re welcome and I’m sorry.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Comedy Real Life, Uncategorized