Tag Archives: Humor

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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They had a whatever the fuck this is.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Why We Shouldn’t Kill Email

WhyWeShouldntKillEmail

Hey Entire World!

Iโ€™m writing with an urgent message: Please, please, please donโ€™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.

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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 youโ€™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:

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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. ๐Ÿ™‚

Frankly, we can get away with saying almost anything, if we add a bunch of exclamation points and emoticons, you shitbirds!!!!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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!!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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.

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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!

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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 think clearing the weeds is just the first step. Since we’re tearing shit out anyway, we can plant new shit.

If you’re tearing out privilege, you can be arguing for equality. If you’re tearing out censorship, you can be supporting new voices. If you’re tearing out the idea of gender as binary, you can celebrate new ideas about gender. If you’re tearing yourself out for a bad and stupid habit, you can celebrate the oddity of the human condition that you are probably not alone in that bad and stupid habit. If you’re tearing out an idiot duck that says moo, you can also build up a duck that quotes the “whaaasup?” Budweiser commercials from 1999. You can plant whatever you want.

Just because comedy, by its nature and structure feels destructive, doesn’t mean it has to always be angry, negative, hostile, and confrontational.

I would argue that a person standing on a stage trying to make other people laugh can and should be joyful.

So I think we should attack away, but when possible plant something in the soil you just freed up.

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!

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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!

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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.

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MYSELF: Obsessed Ep 74

A special, weird episode featuring host Joseph Scrimshaw discussing his obsession with himself! Featuring guest host Hal Lublin! Thrill to such topics as Benedict Cumberbatch, small dogs, feminism, the best episodes of Doctor Who for cats, spending student loans on action figures, the phrase “dark wiggle room,” and much more. Special thanks to Patreon backers for unlocking this episode as a milestone goal!

Thanks as always to Molly Lewis for our theme song!

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

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

If you enjoy the podcast, you can help make it happen by supporting me on Patreon!

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My Name is Joseph

MyNameIsJoseph

The name my parents gave me is Joseph Aaron Scrimshaw. When I got married, I took my wife’s maiden name as a second middle name. My current legal name is Joseph Aaron Stevenson Scrimshaw.

While I was growing up, I pretty much let people call me whatever they wanted: Joe, Joseph, Joey, Scrawny Little Asshole, etc. I never corrected anyone. It felt rude. I figured, “These people are seeing me from the outside. Maybe they’re just picking the name that matches what they see.”

As I got older, my name basically settled into being Joe with the occasional Scrawny Little Asshole.

Once I started a career performing and writing, I consistently used Joseph. After a few years, it started bugging me that despite listing my name as Joseph in every bio, program, press release, interview, etc. people in my professional life would still call me Joe.

I decided, over a decade ago, that if I wanted people to use Joseph, I needed to be consistent. I made a point of telling people that for anything professional, it was Joseph. People and publications still called me Joe.

I decided to start introducing myself to any new people I met as Joseph. I began trying, ever so gently, to correct people if they called me Joe.

At this point in my life, I have a handful of very old friends who know me as Joe. Besides that, my name is Joseph.

Joseph feels right. To me, there is a world of difference between Joe and Joseph.

Joe is a big strong guy who lifts weights and watches football. Joseph collects action figures and is pretty sure heโ€™s a Hufflepuff.

Joe likes America and eating raw steaks cooked on the hood of a big old muscle car. Joseph drives a Toyota Yaris and likes to write comedy essays about Aquaman’s feelings.

I am a motherfucking Joseph.

Still, people call me Joe. These days, the Joe-calling mostly happens on social media. So people are literally calling me Joe while responding to my twitter handle @JOSEPHScrimshaw. I think some people feel shortening names is a way to suggest friendship or intimacy. For other people, maybe two syllables just feels like too much work.

Did you know the beloved actor known as Ben Cum originally went by the ridiculously long name, Benedict Cumberbatch? Think about all the mouth time we would have wasted if he’d insisted BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH was his actual, preferred name? Do you know how many syllables that is? Who has time to even count! Thank God for Ben Cum!

I know people aren’t calling me Joe with malice, but it continues to bother me. And I continue to feel rude correcting people. I feel fussy and uptight saying, “No, no, no, you HAVE to use this version of my name. The longer one. The one that sounds like a guy who has a degree in Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature. Yes, the one who has an Excel Spreadsheet to keep track of which Doctor Who DVDs he doesn’t yet own.”

But why do I feel rude asking people to call me by my preferred name?

I think there is a subtle, yet pervasive idea that we should let our identities be dictated from the outside. That we, as individuals or groups, don’t have the right to determine our identities.

Because that’s what a name is. It’s your identity. It’s one of the ways you tell the world who you are. Why would anyone want that taken away from them?

It’s like if your name was Steve and you started working at a new job, said your name was Steve, and then everyone in the office just decided to call you Shithead.

“But my name is Steve,” Steve might say.

“Yeah,” the boss would respond, “But we prefer Shithead.”

“I actually find Shithead kind of offensive,” Steve would say.

“Come on, loosen up, Shithead,” the boss would cajole. “We actually mean Shithead as a term of RESPECT. In our office, we have a long history of calling the best employee Shithead.”

“Yeah, I don’t really care. It’s my name. Please call me Steve.”

“WHOA! WHOA! Way to overreact and take away my freedom of speech, Shithead!” The boss would yell while stomping around and blowing the office air horn designed to shut down further discussion.

Then, ideally, Steve would flip everyone off and use his jet pack to just blast off and fly away. Sadly, we don’t have jet packs yet so this resolution is just a fantasy.

The point is please call me Joseph. It’s my name. It’s my choice.

I know there will always be people who call me Joe out of habit or laziness or even attempts to be friendly and informal. To those people: I know you mean no disrespect so I will attempt to begrudgingly understand.

And if you hear my preference, understand it, and still, without my permission, choose to call me Joe–that is your right.

Just like it’s my right to start calling you “Shithead” in retaliation.

Anyway, thanks for reading this long, sensitive, wordy essay about how our names are signifiers of our identities.

It’s a real “Joseph” thing to write.

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.

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DAVID FOSTER WALLACE: Obsessed Ep 73

Comedy writer and producer Mark Ganek (The Wil Wheaton Project, Pop Up Video) is obsessed with author David Foster Wallace. Thrill to such topics as how to endnote your own thoughts, the existential dread edition of Galaga, solo DnD play, and a He-Man spec script written by David Foster Wallace!

Thanks as always to Molly Lewis for our theme song!

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

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

If you enjoy the podcast, you can help make it happen by supporting me on Patreon!

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DISNEYLAND: Obsessed Ep 72

Writer, producer, and Disney expert Kristen Rutherford (Attack of the Show, The Nerdist on BBC America) is obsessed with Disneyland. Find out the exciting truth of the hidden mickeys, dapper days, how to best defend the park from zombies, why falling in an elevator is relaxing, and how to blue card Mary Poppins for lying to a child.

Thanks as always to Molly Lewis for our theme song!

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

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

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Filed under Obsessed, Podcast