Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

Burn in Hell: A Ghostbusters Movie Review

GhostbustersReview

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!

MY TWITTER REVIEW:

WHY I SAW THIS MOVIE:

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.

BIG THEME:

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.

FAVORITE THINGS:

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.

QUESTIONABLE THINGS:

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.

FAVORITE LINES:

“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.

WHAT THE MOVIE INSPIRED ME TO DO:

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.

Thanks for reading. If you enjoy this article, feel free to share it on the social medias. If you want to help make more articles like this possible, you can support me on Patreon.

2 Comments

Filed under Comedy Review, Uncategorized

Stuff I Did and Stuff I’m Doing May 2016

Hello, kind humans who are reading this!

I’m trying to post the occasional update on creative stuff I’ve been doing and upcoming shows!

Creative stuffs I’ve been up to!

I’m having a lot of fun being a contributing writer for RiffTrax. Basically, I get assigned a chunk of the movie and write the jokes for that chunk. In the past few months, I worked on a short starring a pedantic talking dog called The Value of Teamwork and an obscure little indie film called The Force Awakens.

I also made a new comedy video called Adult Storytime, featuring artwork by Alex Robinson, the co-host of the great podcast Star Wars Minute. If it goes well, I might make more. You can watch it right here!

I’ve been doing a lot of Star Wars talking! I was thrilled to be a guest on Collider Jedi Council, a very popular YouTube show and podcast covering all things Star Wars.

My own Star Wars podcast feed that I run with Screen Junkies’ producer Ken Napzok and awesome indie artist Jennifer Landa is going strong. We’re putting on a minimum of two episodes a week. You can check out our latest episode involving Ewoks and fire right here!

Finally, Obsessed is continuing to grow thanks to all the listeners and the kind support of my Patreon backers!  We’re just wrapping up our fourth month of weekly episodes. Your support is great, Feral Audio (the podcast network Obsessed is on) has a lot of big plans, but I still want to grow the podcast more. If you enjoy an episode, please SHOUT IT TO TO THE DIGITAL ROOFTOPS! A personal tweet or post with a link to a specific episode helps us out massively! This month’s topics were Your Mom, Hamilton, Snapchat, and the X-Men. You can catch up on them all here!

I’ve also got some exciting writing projects brewing in Hollywoodland. Hopefully, there will be more to report there soon!

Shows!

This Monday, May 30th I’m doing a live recording of Obsessed podast about selfies with Angela Webber of the The Doubleclicks and Molly Lewis. Full info is here.

Then, back in LA on Friday June 3rd, it’s my new monthly comedy game show with Hal Lublin called HEADCAN(N)ON! This month’s guests are J. Elvis Weinstein, Allegra Ringo, Allie Goertz, and Wil Wheaton. You can get tickets here!

Stand-up in LA! I’ve been doing more sets here in Los Angeles. In March, I did my first set on The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail and on June 7th, I’ll be on Put Your Hands Together with Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher. Tickets for that show will be available soon here!

On June 22nd, I’m visiting San Francisco for a double-bill of a new stand-up show I’m working on (called Joseph Scrimshaw Versus Reality) and another live Obsessed podcast. This one’s about NETFLIX with special guests Rebecca Watson and Bonnie Burton. Sadly, you can’t stream the show from your home, but you can get tickets here!

Then over the Fourth of July weekend, I’ll be back home in Minnesota to be a Guest of Honor at the great convention CONvergence. They’re always on top of their game so my whole schedule is already available here.

That’s it for now! Thank you so much for your time and your support!

Obsessively,

Joseph

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

What did you do in 2015, Joseph, what did you do?

Thngs I Did in 2015

Every year I post a bunch of stuff I did that year. I do this because no matter how much work I do, I beat myself up that I haven’t accomplished enough.

At the beginning of 2015, I made a list of 9 concrete goals. I only accomplished 2 of them. My instinct is to feel real, real bad about that and beat myself up. But then I look at this list of all the cool things I’ve been lucky enough to do and all the amazing humans I get to be around.

For 2016, I think I’ll make another list of goals. One of them will be TREAT YOURSELF NICE, ASSHOLE.

Anyway, here’s some fun stuff I did in 2015. WARNING: Includes deep gazes at my navel and a multitude of links to podcasts, albums, videos, blogs, and more!

RIFFTRAX!

I was thrilled to become an official contributing writer for RiffTrax! If you’re not familiar with RiffTrax, check out one of the movies I wrote jokes for: The truly bizarre Nintendo commerical/trainwreck that is The Wizard!

TABLETOP!

I appeared on Geek & Sundry’s awesome tabletop gaming show playing the game CONCEPT with my friend Wil Wheaton and YouTube superstars, Rhett and Link. It was a super fun collaborative game where I mostly had to battle my own SHAME.

OBSESSED ON FERAL AUDIO!

My comedy podcast Obsessed got picked up by the awesome podcast collective, Feral Audio! Feral is run by Dustin Marshall who works tirelessly at making Feral great and also has a very impressive Instagram account. Some of my favorite episodes since joining Feral include Matt Gourley on Quicksand, James Urbaniak on Actors, and a live episode about Game of Thrones with Tim Wick and Rebecca Watson. I’ve got a lot of plans for Obsessed in 2016, so follow us on Feral or you can subscribe on iTunes here!

JEDI ALLIANCE and FORCE CENTER!

I started a totally unplanned new part of my career: Star Wars Talking Guy. My friend Ken Napzok invited me to be a guest on his YouTube show/podcast Jedi Alliance. It was great fun so I kept doing guest appearances, then Ken left the show due to his new job as a producer for Screen Junkies so I started co-hosting Jedi Alliance with Mark Donica. BUT THAT WASN’T ENOUGH TALKING ABOUT STAR WARS. Ken and I missed working together so we started The Force Center podcast. Last week, the TFA review/discussion episodes of both shows were in the top 50 of iTunes TV & Film category. You can check out Jedi Alliance here and Force Center here. A huge thanks to Ken for introducing me to a ton of new friends, fans, opportunities, and giving me an excuse to buy Star Wars toys and write them off on my taxes.

IMG_6741

OTHER COOL PODCASTS!

I got to be a guest on a bunch of cool podcasts including, but not limited to, Maximum Fun’s Jordan Jesse Go, Bryan Cook and Nerdist’s Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction (performing a filthy story about Harry Potter), I had strong Doctor Who opinions with Geek Girl Authority and Dave Foley, I fought on Screen Junkies Plus’ TV Fights (you can watch with a free trial subscription), and I did five episodes of deep Return of the Jedi analysis with my friends at Star Wars Minute.

TOURING WITH THE DOUBLECLICKS and MOLLY LEWIS!

I did two #NerdNightOut tours with The Doubleclicks. We did one on the West Coast in the Spring and one on the East Coast in the Fall. Molly Lewis was a guest for some of the West Coast shows and with us the whole time for the East Coast tour. We all worked together creatively on putting together a weird, geek comedy/music/variety show, but The Doubleclicks did the lion’s share of making the tours happen and I’m extremely grateful. The shows couldn’t have possibly been more rewarding and Angela, Aubrey, and Molly are all awesome humans that I’m thrilled to be friends with.

IMG_6911

IMG_6795

COMEDY DREAM TIME!

I’ve done a bunch of guest bits in various stand-up and comedy shows in LA, but I spent most of my energy on my own monthly show called Comedy Dream Time. The idea of the show is I ask people to give me a character they’ve always wanted to play and I write a sketch for them. Phil LaMarr played an 80s super cop, Matthew Mercer played a He-Man knockoff, Superego’s Jeremy Carter played Indiana Jones (you can read that sketch here), and a ton more. We also had lots of great comedians and special thanks to Allie Goertz and Ariana Lenarsky who both closed the shows with improvised songs based on audience suggestions.

BIG OL’ POP CULTURE CONVENTIONS!

I did a bunch of performing at conventions this year. I was a guest or performer at CONvergence in Minnesota, Dragon Con in Atlanta, Comikaze in Los Angeles, Wizard World in Las Vegas, the BAMF festival at San Diego Comic-Con, and more. I was also thrilled to perform at a Doctor Who convention called CONsole Room and get a chance to interview the 6th Doctor, Colin Baker.

IMG_5796

REBEL SCUM and IT’S A VERY HOLIDAY THING!

I recorded and released two comedy albums. The first, Rebel Scum, is about Star Wars and social justice. It was recorded live at CONvergence in July and then we got it all edited, mixed, mastered, and produced in time for me to bring on tour in September. The second album is a short collection of holiday bits featuring music by Tony Thaxton and Marc Doty. It’s called A Very Holiday Thing. Both albums are available on bandcamp here. I put “releasing two albums” in the category of things I need to remind myself about when I feel like I’m being too lazy.

RebelScum

PAID OFF MY STUDENT LOANS!

On my birthday, August 17th, I paid off my student loans. I paid a lot of money (and interest) to get my liberal arts degree so allow me to say I enjoyed this crepuscular moment of my loans, however it was a Pyrrhic victory as I still have copious sundry debts. That said, I asked my wife to take this celebratory and symbolic photo right after I hit send on the last payment.

IMG_6407

PATREON and BLOGS!

I continue to be extremely lucky to have fans and friends supporting me on Patreon. As an independent creative type, it’s amazing to have a steady, monthly source of income. My Patreon makes it possible for me to keep putting out episodes of Obsessed and writing a monthly comedy blog post. One of my favorite blog posts this year was Underwear That’s Fun To Wear in which I modeled some adult underwear.

BatBrooding

WTFark – RIP!

I haven’t even been in LA for two full years and already my favorite bar is gone and a couple of awesome shows have gone on to that great internet in the sky. My friend Mike Rylander hosted this awesome weird news show, WTFark, for OraTV. When Mike was away, I got to write and host some episodes. Here’s one of my favorites about a shipping company that made a billboard that was just a giant cat head you can pet. Thanks and, sadly, goodbye, WTFark!

SOCIAL MEDIA!

As always, I spent an insane amount of time on social media. On twitter, I passed 10K followers largely because of this one insanely popular tweet.

I also spent a bunch of time on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, five seconds on Periscope, and on tour Molly Lewis taught me to use Snapchat. Look upon my snaps ye mighty and despair.

IMG_8055

You can find me on any social media by searching my clever username: Joseph Scrimshaw.

TV AND MOVIES!

While I did not write or star in any, I sure watched the hell out of them. To name a few, I enjoyed the hell out of Peter Capaldi on Doctor Who, Arrow, The Flash, Don Draper doing yoga, Jessica Jones, and I binge watched all of The Walking Dead in two weeks and spent the next week thinking about the best place in Los Angeles to survive a zombie apocalypse. (Hint: It’s the Dunkin’ Donuts that just opened by my home.) Most importantly, I saw The Force Awakens four times and I have tickets for another showing in the new year. If you have some concerns about the movie, I even wrote a blog post to try to help you out.

IMG_8088

THE FUTURE!

I haven’t done the future yet, but I’m going to. As I write this, I’m working on my final hurrah of 2015–a big New Year’s Eve show with my pal, Hal Lublin. I’ve got a lot of fun stuff coming up in 2016 including being a guest of honor at CONvergence, doing an hour long stand-up show about Doctor Who at Gallifrey One, more stand-up shows in Los Angeles, more podcasts, recording another comedy album, and of course, lots of selfies of me drinking something.

IMG_7157

Thanks again–
Joseph

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

How To Talk To Your Family About The Force Awakens

HowToTalkToYourFamilyAboutTheForceAwakens

WARNING: THIS BLOG CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE MOVIE THAT HAS BROKEN EVERY BOX OFFICE RECORD KNOWN TO HUMANITY SO IF YOU’RE READING THIS AND HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE, THAT’S REALLY WEIRD. LIKE, ALMOST, STATISTICALLY WEIRD, THAT YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE BUT MADE THE CHOICE TO CLICK THE LINK. ANYWAY, THERE ARE SPOILERS.

In these tense holiday times, many sensitive subjects come up when we gather with our families. For example, someone you know–a loved family member even–might say something stupid about Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

Here’s a list of 7 common complaints and how to handle them using your choice of the dark side or the light.

1) “I don’t even get the whole Star Wars thing.”

The Dark Side:
I’m sorry you hate joy. I bet you also dislike music and laughter. Those are both totally overrated, too. Why don’t you write a think piece about how much ice cream doesn’t even really taste that good, jump on your hoverboard, and roll the fuck out?

The Light Side:
I understand Star Wars isn’t for everyone and everyone’s entitled to their subjective opinion. That said, there are reasons it’s hugely popular with millions of people and has been for multiple decades. On its surface, it’s fun. It’s an epic saga about space wizards who cut each other’s arms off with laser swords. That’s just fun. But it’s constructed on deep themes of isolation, longing, free will versus destiny, individual agency in the face of institutionalized oppression, and lots of bad parenting. It speaks to essential challenges of humanity but also the aliens look cool. Go ahead and critique it or dislike it, but, at this point, what is there to not get?

2) “There were too many action scenes in it.”

The Dark Side:
It’s called Star Wars, you dumb moof-milker, not Star Talk About Our Feelings.

The Light Side:
Star Wars was inspired by old Saturday Morning Serials. The movies are designed to be thrilling by having lots of different action scenes. That said, they usually do a great job of not only advancing the plot through the action scenes, but also advancing individual characters’ journeys and relationships. For example, in The Force Awakens, when the rathtars are released, the action serves to strengthen the bond between Finn and Rey. During the First Order’s attack on Maz Kanata’s castle, Finn isn’t just using Luke’s old lightsaber to fight a cool Riot Stormtrooper; he’s making the choice not to run away from his fears. Also, saying there were too many action scenes in a Star Wars movie is like saying there are too many repressed emotions in a Jane Austen movie.

3) “It seemed like a reboot of that first Star Wars movie.”

The Dark Side:
*push glasses up the bridge of your nose with the power of the force*
The first movie is called A New Hope, asshole.

The Light Side:
Yes, it uses similar thematic elements, but it should. The goal of this film was to honor the old characters and stories while introducing us to new ones. The idea of mashing-up the very old and the very new is at the core of the franchise. It’s ancient hero myths but now there are aliens who look like big stressed-out fish. That’s Star Wars in a nutshell. While The Force Awakens played with our familiarity, it also introduced plenty of new things to the Star Wars galaxy. We’ve never had characters like Rey, Finn, Poe, and BB-8. They are not carbon copies of Luke, Han, Leia, and R2-D2. They are unique, new creations. Besides, Star Wars has always had a deep sense of nostalgia. From the very beginning, Luke wants to be a Jedi to follow in the steps of his father. There’s always been a generational theme. The movies have always been about adventures that happened “a long time ago.” And at this point, that deep connection to the past that was introduced in A New Hope is now an actual connection to our shared cultural experience in real life. We share Finn and Rey’s amazement because Han Solo is a legend we met a long time ago both in the story AND in reality. There’s no way to tell this story that isn’t deeply, deeply nostalgic.

4) “Okay, but why did there have to be another Death Star thing?”

The Dark Side:
It’s called Starkiller Base. Also, come up with a better plot device under the same amount of pressure, then make it the bestselling movie ever. I’ll wait.

The Light Side:
The movie is a big tentpole blockbuster with multiple plates to spin. By all means, say you don’t like those kind of movies, but get used to saying that a lot because those are the movies that exist now and their storytelling needs are different than It’s A Wonderful Life. The Force Awakens is trying to tell a big story about the state of the galaxy, but they couldn’t have too many political scenes or everyone would have yelled at them for doing “that prequel shit.” They also wanted to keep the focus on the interpersonal relationships. The Starkiller Base served a bunch of narrative functions: it wiped out the Senate and the Republic’s fleet by destroying the Hosnian System, created a ticking clock, a specific point of rivalry between Hux and Kylo Ren, and the opportunity for multiple characters to have heroic moments. When you’re already spinning that many plates, why not use something the audience is familiar with and makes sense in universe?

5) “Kylo Ren was too whiny.”

The Dark Side:
Your brain is very small. It’s worth one quarter portion.

The Light Side:
Kylo Ren is a great new Star Wars character–he’s petulant, insecure, and desperate. This is so much more interesting than a confident, monologuing mad man. And yet, we know by how much maintenance his hair must take, that deep inside there is still patience. He still cares. There is still a possibility for redemption.

6) “Han died for no reason.”

The Dark Side:
You didn’t actually watch the movie, did you?

The Light Side:
The movie resets Han’s hero’s journey. We meet him as a washed-up smuggler who is running away from his responsibilities. By the end of the movie, he makes the choice to go back and plant the explosives on the thermal oscillator because, as he says, “the galaxy is depending on us.” That decision opens the hole that Poe Dameron flies through. On top of that, Han has no desire to face his son. He’d rather write him off as gone, having too much Vader in him. But Han makes the brave choice of facing his fears and trying to get through to his son. He could have walked away–instead, Han talks first.

7) “Rey learns to use the Force too fast. She’s kind of a Mary Sue.”

The Dark Side:
If someone says this at dinner, just force throw a plate of ham into this guy’s face. Because it’s probably a guy who said this.

The Light Side:
First, google Mary Sue because you’re probably using it incorrectly. Then, take a good hard look in the mirror and make sure you’re not just upset about a female protagonist. If you haven’t rage quit this blog then we can move on to super nerdy force power discussion. Strap yourselves in.

Yes, Rey develops her abilities in a different way than we’ve seen other Jedi–which is cool–because see above about the mix of the old and the new.

Rey discovers her power step-by-step. Her abilities first “awaken” when she’s piloting the Falcon off of Jakku. She explicitly says to Finn she’s flown before, but she didn’t know how she did it so well.

Next, she fires a blaster. She has a slight look of surprise like she’s aware of her own increased accuracy.

Next, she’s captured by Kylo Ren and his beautiful hair. She discovers she can not only resist his attempts to use the force to read/invade her mind, she can do it back to him. At this point, we know Rey has heard tales of Luke Skywalker and the Jedi. It’s not surprising that she would’ve heard of the old Jedi Mind Trick. Also, Kylo Ren just tried to invade her mind. Then she does what we’ve seen many Jedi do, she concentrates, believes in her ability, and successfully mind tricks Daniel Craig dressed as a stormtrooper thus fulfilling someone’s slash fic bingo card somewhere.

Finally, the big lightsaber battle. It’s not a shock that Rey would be able to call the lightsaber to her, since the lightsaber itself was calling to her at Maz Kanata’s castle. She has a connection to it that Ren apparently doesn’t. Even with that, for the first half of her battle with Ren, Rey is just keeping alive. She’s slashing and running. We know she’s good at that because we’ve seen her do it with her staff back on Jakku. But then Kylo Ren mentions the force and she does exactly what Maz Kanata had told her to do: Close her eyes, let the light in, and it will guide you.

We were told way back in A New Hope by Obi-Wan Kenobi that the force obeys your commands, but it can also guide your actions.

What Rey lacks in training, she makes up in her connection with the force. Also, Kylo Ren is massively wounded, tormented about killing his father, insecure about this new force user, and probably still worried about his hair.

From a certain point of view

So those are a few thoughts you can share with your grumpy aunt, sexist uncle, or hipster cousin over the dinner table about the true power of The Force Awakens.

Just memorize all of this and repeat it verbatim to your family. They will ask you where you read that and then they’ll worry for my sanity.

Because, as Qui-Gon Jinn taught us, our focus determines our reality. So maybe this is a light, funny blog about a space movie. Or a thoughtful analysis of a film with deep themes and emotional resonance. Or the ravings of a crazy guy who saw the same movie four times opening weekend and can’t wait for a Rey action figure that comes with a lightsaber to be released.

All of those things are true from a certain point of view.

Happy holidays and may the force be with you.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoy you can help make more blog posts possible by supporting me on Patreon. You can also check out Ken Napzok and I discussing some of these same issues on our podcast Force Center. Finally, I made a whole album of Star Wars comedy called Rebel Scum that you can listen to with your ears should you choose.

5 Comments

Filed under Comedy Review, Uncategorized

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

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

One Percent of a Good Idea

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

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

My friend said something along the lines of this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I do want change.

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

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

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

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

Here’s the trailer:

Liam Neeson walks slowly toward the camera.

The voiceover kicks in.

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

Liam Neeson talks heatedly into a phone:

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

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

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

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

BAM. THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you enjoy my work, you can check out all the comedy words and things I’m making via Patreon.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Comedy Real Life, Uncategorized

Top 14 Things I Did in 2014

MyTop14of2014

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

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

Here we go:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you enjoy my work, you can check out all the comedy words and things I’m making via Patreon.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Comedy Real Life, Uncategorized