Joseph and his martinis decided to do some fast dirty interviews onboard Jonathan Coulton’sfourth annual music-comedy-nerd cruise. A plethora of cruise-goers including Grant Imahara, John Scalzi, The Doubleclicks, and more answer questions about the cruise, community, alcohol, Angry Clown Island, Beyonce, Lord of the Flies, and more. PLUS: A very special version of the Obsessed theme song by Molly Lewis.
Tag Archives: JoCoCruiseCrazy
I once again sailed on JoCoCruiseCrazy and I once again had a great time performing as well as doing other human things that I would normally do on land but instead doing them on a boat.
If, like my mother, your first reaction is “What’s a JoCo and why are people cruising on it?” here are the basics: Jonathan Coulton is a talented, kind, funny human who sings songs. For the last four years, he’s gathered other talented, kind, funny humans to sing songs and tell jokes on a cruise ship. You should go next year.
This year, the cruise was on a ship that I believe was designed by aliens. More on that later.
Here’s some cool stuff about the Jonathan Coulton part of the cruise:
The attendees call themselves Sea Monkeys. After four years, the Sea Monkeys have formed a community that exists on the sea, the land, the internet, and sometimes even the air if you go parasailing during the cruise.
For example, a nice Sea Monkey named Laura dressed her stuffed monkey up as Batman and then gave it a taco just for me. Things like this constitute fairly normal interactions on the cruise.
The Sea Monkeys are also a great audience. I had over a million metric tons of fun performing in the ship’s Goth Club in the middle of a Monday afternoon. The club had a strange, sexy Beefeater theme so this statue was my co-star.
Paul F. Tompkins kindly performed the controversial piece Cats Versus Dinosaurs with me and Molly Lewis was my co-host for my nerd-friendly sport Competitive Hugging. The Sea Monkey volunteers came, they saw, they hugged the shit out of each other.
I also played a role in the boat edition of Thrilling Adventure Hour. Peter Sagal and I portrayed angry people from the Midwest. It was easy to get into character.
And I served as communications officer for “Drunk Celebrity Artemis” in which Grant Imahara flew our spaceship backwards through asteroids. This was not an actual command given by our Captain, Angela Webber of The Doubleclicks, but it was very entertaining.
All that said, the actual cruise part of the cruise seemed even stranger to me than normal.
Cruises are meant to evoke elegance and luxury, but with the glut of cruise problems in the last year there’s also the mental image of being lost at sea, defecating in a bag, while rats infested with the norovirus stare at you in judgment until you wash up on the island from Lord of the Flies.
Perhaps because of these thoughts I was more aware of the cruise ship as a floating contradiction. I spent a few extra minutes on my balcony staring at the endless sea and the vast sky–realties of the physical world that remind you of your tiny insignificant nature and the absurdity of our civilization. All of that just a few feet away from an angry lady from Iowa screaming BINGO and spilling a little bit of her strawberry-mocha margarita out of the commemorative plastic cup that is ringed with chunks of salt and small edible conflict diamonds.
Adding to the contradiction pile, our ship was called the Independence of the Seas and I for one felt INCREDIBLY INDEPENDENT as other humans cleaned my room and made me martinis.
There were many things about the Independence of the Seas that were almost right, but not really, leading me to the inevitable conclusion that this particular cruise ship was designed by aliens with only a loose grasp of human culture.
Each level of the elegant three story main dining room was named after a Shakespeare play. In particular, a Shakespearean tragedy. This led to a delightful moment of hearing a man with a heavy southern drawl loudly and repeatedly asking a steward, “Where is Macbeth? Where’s Macbeth? I can’t find Macbeth!”
Dining rooms named after Shakespearean tragedies is the set-up to a choose-your-own-punchline-adventure joke. Turn to page 57 for “at least they didn’t choose The Tempest.” Turn to page 163 for “I hope the dining room isn’t named after Titus Andronicus.” Turn to page 269 for “WHY DON’T THEY JUST CALL THE SHIP THE TITANIC?”
The ship was also lousy with challenging art. I don’t mean challenging as in thought provoking, I mean most of the artwork was so aggressively weird I felt like it was actually challenging me to a fistfight.
There was the picture of a deer looking at its own mounted head.
There was an elegant print you could buy of a famous human named Jack Nicholson farting.
There was a photograph that I believe was called “Buff-Man in the Shadows” or “Child of Light with Huge Pecs” or “Terrifying Live-Action Family Circus.”
There was an illustration of spaceships from Star Wars sinking naval ships.
Here you can truly see the aliens trying. They know a lot of humans like Star Wars so, hey, why not some pictures from Star Wars? How about some ships? How about two of the most obscure ships only seen in Return of the Jedi? Yes, that sounds good. We’ll have a picture of TIE-interceptors and A-Wings. What should they be doing? How about destroying something? Sounds good, but let’s make it relatable. What if they were sinking other ships?
YES! The spaceships should be sinking naval ships–VERY MUCH LIKE THE ONE THE HUMANS ARE FLOATING ON RIGHT NOW! I think the humans would enjoy that! Alien high-five! Or high-seven depending on their anatomy!
The ship also had a promenade or mall in the center as if commerce itself could keep us afloat. One of the storefronts was a pizza place called Sorrento’s which I choose to believe is Italian for “Sorry, humans.”
Many of us went there to get late night pizza. The pizza was available all day, but this pizza is like a great jazz club, a vampire, or texting your ex. It belongs to the night.
The pizza is not good. It’s also not bad. It’s almost pizza but not quite. It’s like eating the Uncanny Valley.
I could go on and on about the strange cruise.
I could tell you the aliens also chose a ridiculous name for our toilet paper.
Heavenly Choice. So much wrong packed into just two words. The act is almost as completely opposite of heavenly as you can get and, hopefully, there’s not a lot of choice involved. It’s not shopping for a new car, it’s basic cleanliness. Come on, aliens.
I could also tell you how the aliens took a part of Haiti and renamed it Labadee and then used it to exactly recreate an island from the Nintendo Gamecube era video game Super Mario Sunshine.
Seriously, try saying LABADEE in Mario’s voice and it all comes together.
The point is my whole time on the ship I was overwhelmed by this idea, this sensation of aliens struggling to make sense of normal human culture.
By the last day I realized I was enjoying the cruise even more because of that. Normal human culture is weird. Normal human culture on a cruise ship is weirder STILL.
But everything makes more sense when you’re inside it.
It’s only when you pull back and look at it from a distance that you can see the absurdity and often the joy of how not normal what you’re doing is.
On the last day of the cruise, I thought I was in a room with a bunch of awesome people listening to my friend Molly Lewis sing some songs.
Then I let myself drift back and see it from the outside. I was standing in a fake goth club on a cruise ship listening to Molly sing a song about a detachable, flying vagina with a man dressed as Super Mario.
And it was great.
So thanks to Jonathan, the Sea Monkeys, the skies, the seas, the aliens, the night pizza, and all the weirdness in our vast universe for another fun week on a boat.
This post was made possible by Patreon! If you enjoy my work, you can keep more coming by pledging a few bucks per blog post!
I’m a huge fan of Kickstarter. It made my book Comedy of Doom possible and more recently it made my comedy album Flaw Fest possible. One of the rewards for Flaw Fest was a short comedy video about any flaw you wanted. My pal, cartoonist and game designer, John Kovalic, suggested the flaw of Kickstarter Addiction. So I made the video below.
After making that video, I worry about my Kickstarter Karma so here are a few projects from friends and awesome humans that I think you should check out.
Singing funny humans, Paul & Storm, (who are featured on the Flaw Fest album) just launched a campaign for their new album Ball Pit!
If you’re a fan of Paul & Storm, you probably know about JoCoCruiseCrazy. Here’s a Kickstarter campaign to create a high-end animated trailer for the cruise.
My friend and partner-in-comedy-crime in Rockstar Storytellers, Courtney McLean, just launched a cool project for a 12 night tour that never leaves the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul!
Finally, Mary Jo Pehl, of MST3K and Cinematic Titanic and general awesomeness, wants to sing to you AND give you a recipe for tater tot hotdish.
My recipe for tater tot hotdish is take 2 or more ingredients of any kind then add enough CREAM to kill a small moose. Lovingly cover this gastronomical death trap with tater tots and enough SALT to make sure the dead moose’s body will never decay. That recipe is free, but I should probably do a Kickstarter campaign for a cookbook on how to murder friends and loved ones with food stuffs.
Thanks for all the support you Kickstarting sons of bitches!
We all have flaws. And I wanted to share mine. So, of course, I did the healthy rational thing and put together a comedy show, a Kickstarter campaign, and a double album of comedy and music.
The whole thing is called Flaw Fest. Here’s all the information about it in one place.
I first did the show in February of 2013 on Jonathan Coulton’s JoCoCruiseCrazy. It’s a stand-up comedy show about all my horrible flaws: a sloth driven obsession to play bad James Bond video games, a stubborn need to fight with large animals, the idiocy to drink something called a Watermelon Shooter, the hubris to write a rock n’ roll song about a helium balloon, and much more.
The show went well so I decided to use Kickstarter to raise funds to record the show for a comedy album. The show deals with themes of music and I have a lot of amazing musician friends. So I asked a bunch of them to write an album of songs inspired by the show. So basically, it will be a comedy album with its own soundtrack. To my knowledge, no one has ever done that before.
The Kickstarter was also a success due to what I metaphorically described on this blog as Unicorns and Cocaine. You can read up on the actual project here! Now that the Kickstarter is funded, everything else is rolling along.
THE LIVE COMEDY SHOW
This coming weekend, we’re recording the show live at the Bryant Lake Bowl in Minneapolis. It will feature an opening act by Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and RiffTrax. I’ll be doing the comedy show as well as recording a bonus track where I read the name of every person who contributed to the Kickstarter. We’ll also be selling pre-orders of the comedy and music album at the shows!
There are four performances:
Friday, September 27 at 7 pm
Friday, September 28 at 10 pm
Saturday, September 29 at 7 pm
Saturday, September 29 at 10 pm.
The 7 pm shows are almost SOLD OUT, but right now there are still tickets for the 10 pm shows. You can get tickets here. We, of course, want to pack the room for recording the comedy album, so tell your friends. Tell them, “Go pack a room, friends!” You should probably add some context to that sentence, but you know what I mean.
The comedy and music album will be completed and sent out to Kickstarter backers in late October. The album will be officially released to the rest of the world in November. Here are updates on the progress!
Songs are pouring in from all the musicians for the music album half of Flaw Fest. You’ll be hearing a ballad called “Bond’s Bad Day” by Bill Corbett, a kick-ass rock song called “Wife Head” by John Munson, an ode to how f’ing awesome eggs are by The Doubleclicks, and many more.
Here’s a photo of me working on some high-end music stuff in Kevin Murphy’s studio.
Here’s a nice article from l’etoile magazine about the whole Flaw Fest project.
And here’s another in-depth interview about the whole project from The City Pages.
And a nice discussion of the show on The Current’s Weekend Arts Round-Up.
More press coming out this week!
My pal and awesome photographer Craig Van Der Schaegen took a whole slew of new photos for the Flaw Fest album artwork.
Here’s a sneak peek.
More flawed updates as they come in!
Many thanks for all your interest and support!
Your flawed friend,
FINAL UPDATE AT THE TOP BECAUSE IT’S IMPORTANT: Flaw Fest is funded. Live comedy shows, a new comedy album, an album of original songs by amazing musicians will all exist. Because you funded, you increased your funding, you promoted, you snorted hope-coke and flew like unicorns. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, read below. The context will help a little tiny bit. There are no more words for it than: Thanks, unicorns.
Flaw Fest is a comedy show about all my flaws as a human being. Well, not all of them. The greatest hits of my horrible human flaws.
I performed the show in February of 2013 on Jonathan Coulton’s JoCoCruiseCrazy. You can read about the cruise experience here.
The show went very well. One of the conversations that came up on the cruise was how comedians, musicians, and artists in general generate new material.
The cruise left me thinking about creating new work and about how comedy and music interact.
I came up with the idea of not only recording the comedy show, but asking a bunch of my musician friends to write an album of original songs inspired by the comedy show.
The result is this kickstarter campaign called FLAW FEST.
The campaign ends this Friday, June 21st at 12:27 CDT. We’re pretty far from our goal of $26,007.
The goal is quite high.
Over half of the money is going to the musicians because I wanted them to be paid well for taking the time to write and record new songs. The rest of the money is going toward renting the theater, paying for rewards, and hiring pros to get a very high quality recording of the comedy show.
I knew the goal was quite high when I set it, but (as I joke about in the show) my flaws include being stubborn and, at times, foolishly optimistic.
The progress on the funding has been uneven. There have been some great things. The Kickstarter staff selected it as a Staff Pick and featured FLAW FEST on their home page as a Project of the Day. Still, some days, it’s lumbered along like a wounded buffalo. Other days, it’s raced forward like a crazy little squirrel hopped up on pixie stix.
If there’s any hope of making its goal by Friday, the funding will need to fly like a horde of unicorns jacked up on coke.
While the goal is still frustratingly far away, I know two things:
1) No one owes me anything. If you think the project looks interesting, I’m thrilled. If not, that’s fine, too. Not every project that sounds exciting to creators is going to find the right audience or a large enough audience to share that excitement. That’s just part of being a creative type.
2) The fans who have supported this project have supported the LIVING HELL OUT OF IT. Many people have increased their pledges, plugged the project, and sent kind words of encouragement. Many thanks to all the squirrel people hopped up on pixie stix who have given this project its forward movement.
Bottom line, I know the goal is quite high. I know the deadline is very close. But I’m going to be foolishly optimistic and ask you a favor:
If you think the project sounds exciting, please fund at whatever level you can. Please tell your friends who might be interested. Please be a unicorn. Strap on some wings, do a few lines of hope-coke with me and fly, fly, fly.
Or just enjoy the concept of drug addled fictional creatures. That’s appreciated, too.
Many thanks from a flawed creative type–
UPDATE: As of this writing, we have 24 hours left to fund FLAW FEST. Many of you have answered THE CALL OF THE HOPEFUL UNICORN and I deeply appreciate it. Thanks to you we’ve moved much closer to the goal and we’re now tantalizingly close to making this idea a reality. Keep flying, unicorns, keep snorting and flying. We’re almost there. Thank you.
UPDATE UPDATE: As of this writing, we have 4 hours left. Everyone who watches the TV show 24 knows that’s when THE EXCITING AND EXTRA RIDICULOUS THINGS HAPPEN. You hope-coked unicorns have been flying like crazy. We also got a nice plug from Jonathan Coulton and Greg Pak via their great graphic novel and music kickstarter. We saw a huge surge last night because of all that work. Just a few more hours and a few more dollars. Keep flying and thank you for helping FLAW FEST get this close to being a reality.
As a result of a brief conversation with John Roderick on JoCoCruiseCrazy, I decided to tweet once a day about tacos for the entire month of March 2013.
To my great delight, people enjoyed the taco tweets so I decided to continue the daily tweet series.
I felt the obvious follow up to tacos was monkeys. I stand by that decision for many reasons. Like most humans, my two favorite non-swear words are monkey and pants. Monkeys are a great source of comedy. They are so very close to humans and yet so very different. I’m sure monkeys would like tacos, but they have yet to extend that love to tweeting about tacos. But one can hope.
Below is every monkey tweet from April 2013. If you enjoy, you can find me on Twitter here.
Day One: Monkeys with typewriters will eventually write Shakespeare. Monkeys with iPhones will eventually Instagram their junk.
Day Two: Idea for a movie: Rise of the Pedantic Monkeys Who Are Pissed Off Because Technically They Are Not Monkeys, They Are Apes.
Day Three: “Are you throwing poo or is poo throwing you? A TED Talk by a Monkey.” This CHANGED my life.
Day Four: Things that look better on a monkey than a human: fez, diaper, red jackets, monocle, top hat, google glasses, bling.
Day Five: One of the big differences between humans and monkeys is that monkeys don’t use the phrase “it is what it is” so often.
Day Six: From a monkey perspective, King Kong is a romantic comedy with a really bleak ending.
Day Seven: I want to believe that somewhere, right now, a monkey is narrating the actions of David Attenborough.
Day Eight: When I’m rich and crazy I will have a monkey butler. That is, a human butler whose only job is to bring me monkeys.
Day Nine: Monkeys have many euphemisms for throwing poo: flinging the waste, forgetting the past, sending the tweet, etc.
Day Ten: Here’s my suggestion for the next Bourne movie: it should be called The Bourne Monkey. That’s all I’ve got so far.
Day Eleven: This one time I did a commercial with the monkey from Friends. Seriously.
Day Twelve: Monkey with a banjo: funny. Monkey with a ukulele: hip. Monkey with a sitar: pothead.
Day Thirteen: There should be monkey bars for adults where an actual monkey would make me a martini.
Day Fourteen: Monkey see, monkey do unless a monkey sees someone planking and then the monkey just shakes his head and sighs.
Day Fifteen: If I commanded an army of Flying Monkeys, I would mostly have them steal people’s smartphones and fav this tweet.
Day Sixteen: Today my faith in humanity was restored when I read that two of the most used passwords are “iloveyou” and “monkey.”
Day Seventeen: Things that are so easy a monkey could do them: riding a pig, visiting Ikea, outsmarting Charlton Heston, hugging.
Day Eighteen: Emo monkeys just want to sit in the trees, listen to The Cure, and dream of picking things out of Robert Smith’s hair.
Day Nineteen: A philosophical question: If monkeys had their own social media site would they post pictures of cute humans?
Day Twenty: Things that monkeys don’t have to deal with: pants, their personal brand, reading Breaking Bad spoilers, bad hair days.
Day Twenty-One: True story: Told a friend that a warehouse task was so easy a monkey could do it. He broke the machine and looked sad.
Day Twenty-Two: Right now, Andy Serkis is probably in a motion capture suit pretending to be a monkey. Possibly for a movie role.
Day Twenty-Three: Villains that would be better if they had little monkey sidekicks: Darth Vader, Dracula, Hans Gruber, tax auditors.
Day Twenty-Four: I own socks with pictures of googly eyed monkeys. The socks read “DRUNKIE MONKEY.” This isn’t a joke, it’s just true.
Day Twenty-Five: I want to see a horror film called Monkeys on a Segway.
Day Twenty-Six: One cool thing about monkeys is that they don’t eat bananas ironically. They really fucking love bananas.
Day Twenty-Seven: When a small monkey starts screaming it means they’re angry, tired, or they just read a tweet that spoiled Breaking Bad.
Day Twenty-Eight: Monkey saying: When life hands you lemons, rub them on your body, sniff them, scream, then throw them at another monkey.
Day Twenty-Nine: Of all the monkeys in the world, one of my very favorites is stoic space monkey.
Day Thirty: Monkeys with typewriters will eventually type Shakespeare. Monkeys with iPhones wilt evening tip shaken pearl.
Monkeys! Thanks! In May 2013, I’ll be tweeting daily with super uplifting affirmations!
Tacos are the spirit food of the internet. Particularly, Twitter. When I first joined Twitter in 2009, I would often see tweets along the lines of:
“I just ate a taco!”
And then I would wonder why I was on Twitter. I wondered why I needed to know that someone just ate a taco.
Then I realized I didn’t need to know.
I wanted to know.
I enjoy sharing the daily march through life with a strange and diverse collection of humans. It’s nice to remember we all have victories, failures, and can’t eat a taco without tweeting about it.
On Jonathan Coulton’s JoCoCruiseCrazy, Bill Corbett hosted a panel on writing that eventually ended up as an episode of the great podcast Nerdist Writer’s Panel. During the panel, John Roderick mentioned he was publishing a book of tweets. We got into a discussion about the difference between the world seeing an artist’s creation unfold via social media versus presenting a complete finished product. I asked John if he considered his book of tweets a work in progress. He said, “Well, I’m not including a bunch of taco tweets.”
I was inspired to defend the artistic virtue of taco tweets. So for the month of March 2013, I tweeted about tacos once a day. Here, in all their victories and failures, are my taco tweets. Enjoy.
Day One: Today, for lunch, I did not have a taco.
Day Two: Here’s my breakfast taco recipe: Bacon, a crumpet, and a mimosa in a champagne flute, wrapped in a soft shell. No Doritos.
Day Three: Things that are bullshit: Dunkin’ Donuts doesn’t serve tacos. What bullshit.
Day Four: When a man is tired of taco tweets, he is tired of the internet.
Day Five: FREE IDEA FOR CHEAP HOTELS: Replace your paintings of ducks with paintings of tacos. Automatic increase in business.
Day Six: Revenge is a dish best served without tacos. People like tacos.
Day Seven: How does one even define a taco? The tightness of the wrapping? Is a burrito just an uptight taco?
Day Eight: Things that don’t go well with eating tacos: Parkour.
Day Nine: Cookies are great, but if Girl Scouts really wanted to make money they would sell tacos.
Day Ten: Taco Fact: In the time it takes you to read this tweet a million tacos will be consumed at #SXSW.
Day Eleven: Taco fact: No one knows how or why, but Instagram photos of tacos outnumber actual tacos by 2 to 1.
Day Twelve: You are what you eat. Most Americans are 67% taco.
Day Thirteen: Taco fact: There is an actual taco bell. It rang only once in 1547 to declare an armistice in the war of hard versus soft.
Day Fourteen: No one has endorsed me on LinkedIn for tweeting about tacos.
Day Fifteen: Friday is casual taco day. If you work an office job you can eat tacos like you would at home: pantsless and crying.
Day Sixteen: Are there green tacos today? Don’t eat green tacos. It’s an insult to tacos, the color green, Ireland, and eating.
Day Seventeen: Old Irish Proverb: “Give me a taco, I’m Irish.”
Day Eighteen: Tacos are like metaphors. People put a bunch of weird stuff in them that doesn’t make sense to other people.
Day Nineteen: Taco Tip: No matter how much you love tacos, do not name your taco. If you eat a taco you’ve named Steve, you’re a monster.
Day Twenty: How would Batman eat a taco? SUDDENLY FROM OUT OF THE SHADOWS.
Day Twenty One: New idea for a charity event: Tacos Across America. A chain of people holding hands while other people feed them tacos.
Day Twenty Two: H.P. Lovecraft describes a taco: A hideous shelled monstrosity oozing with meat and the festering death of hunger itself.
Day Twenty Three: How to make a good action movie trailer: The hero calmly walks away from a giant explosion WHILE EATING A TACO.
Day Twenty Three BONUS TACO TWEET: Also, I’m 100% aware that I just wrote a tweet with the words “taco” and “explosion” without making a fart joke. I stand by this decision.
Day Twenty Four: Here is my recipe for a hangover taco: Meat, cheese, aspirin, lettuce, electrolytes, guilt, salsa.
Day Twenty Five: If someone is depressed a nice, reassuring, not too gross thing to say is “There’s a taco at the end of the tunnel.”
Day Twenty Six: A wise, old proverb: A prison made of tacos is not a prison at all.
Day Twenty Seven: In space, no one can hear you eat a taco.
Day Twenty Eight: In Mary Shelley’s original book, Frankenstein’s monster doesn’t say “FIRE BAD!” He says “FIRE BAD! TACOS GOOD!”
Day Twenty Nine: A confession: Sometimes I describe hard shell tacos as Daniel Craig’s abs tacos. It’s a pretty disturbing thing to do.
Day Thirty: It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a taco.
Day Thirty One, The End: A 21st century philosophical question: If someone eats a taco, but doesn’t tweet about it, did they even eat a taco?
Thank you for reading about my adventures in taco tweets. I sincerely hope you’re eating a taco as you read this. For the month of April, I’ll be tweeting about monkeys once a day. Join me.
Yours in tacos,
I recently returned from spending a week in a giant hotel that floated around the Caribbean. The floating hotel was filled with awesome performers, friends, fans, and employees who wanted to aggressively sell me booze every waking moment.
Everything about the cruise was great. The other performers, the attendees (they self-identify as Sea Monkeys), and all of the events both official and unofficial. Even the things that weren’t necessarily great were amusing. (The staff really did want to sell you more stuff at all times. I’m surprised they don’t have staff members with mini-bars in each individual bathroom stall. It would be efficient.)
I did a brand new show on the mainstage that went really well. It was a light comedy show about all of my flaws as a human being. Stylistically, it’s a Frankenstein’s monster made out of parts of stand-up comedy, storytelling, theater, and drinking beer with friends. I’ve done a lot of different kinds of comedy performance, but this particular beast is the kind of show I want to be doing, so the warm reception was very gratifying. Hopefully, I’ll be doing more performances of the show and eventually recording it.
I also got to record an episode of my podcast Obsessed with my pals Molly Lewis, Mike Phirman, and Wil Wheaton. They were hilarious, insightful, and all-around perfect guests for the podcast, so go check out the beer and pro-tools episode and rate the hell out of the podcast on iTunes.
The kind Sea Monkeys also bought up all the copies of my book and comedy album that I brought on the boat. I performed a live riff with Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy. I played a starship simulator video game called Artemis live on stage. I danced to the mad DJ skillz of David Rees and John Hodgman. I decided Paul (of Paul and Storm) could use some interpretive dance (aka mime humping) during his rockin’ karaoke version of “Wanted Dead Or Alive.” I accidentally walked past the door to my stateroom while entirely sober and the steward pointed and laughed for a full thirty seconds. My lovely wife, Sara, did an amazing job helping the shows run smoothly backstage. Sara and I also had a nice romantic moment when we were terrified by the infamous hanging monkey towel animal.
I could go on and on about the cruise, but strangely the event that gave me the most perspective happened on the way home. (For more on the cruise itself, I suggest watching Greg Benson’s hilarious videos, reading Jonathan’s wrap up or Sea Monkey Alice’s blog post.)
The Sea Monkeys have a kind habit of applauding the performers when they enter the ship’s dining room. When Sara and I walked down the aisle of our packed plane home, two Sea Monkeys quietly, lightly applauded. We had a brief chat about accepting our transition back into the real world.
“We want to yell the thing, but we can’t,” said the Sea Monkeys. The thing was an ongoing joke to yell “SEX PARTY!” during performances. Definitely not the thing to yell on a crowded plane.
But it was a lovely moment to share. The mood on the cruise is very supportive and intense like we’re all members of a kindness cult.
Strangely, the man I sat next to on the plane turned out to actually be a member of a cult.
He was very friendly and not wearing robes or waving a dagger or anything. Let’s say his name was Ed. He was probably in his 50s, he smiled a lot, and told me he owned a feed mill in Amsterdam. He didn’t make any jokes about milling pot for animals. I didn’t either.
After the normal small talk, he told me that he had been in Orlando for a week to learn about approaching the world with kindness.
“That’s nice,” I thought. “I’ve been on a floating hotel doing a comedy/music convention that spent a lot of time celebrating kindness. Maybe I should have an open mind.”
Then he gave me a card for Avatar, the Compassion Project. I looked up Avatar. It’s been described as Scientology-Lite. It was founded by a guy who got sued by the Church of Scientology for ripping off their materials, so he went rogue. To review, this organization was formed by a man who was too morally bankrupt to be a Scientologist.
Ed told me the program had taught him to mill feed for animals in a manner that exposed rabbits to their inner happiness. I am not making this up. Ed wanted me to read a passage from his new Avatar book. It had blown his mind.
Around the same time, a child in the seat in front of us started yelling about how to spell Mickey Mouse. The child insisted that there is no “e.” That it’s spelled M-I-C-K-Y. (Much like Scottish Whisky has no e, so she must be a fan of single malt Scottish cartoon mice.) The child decided to prove she was right by repeatedly yelling “KY!”
I tried to focus on the passage in an effort to be friendly toward the smiling man who believed a bastardized version of Scientology can make bunnies reach their full potential. I was pretty sure I would think the passage was manipulative bullshit, but I might as well be friendly.
This was the greatly paraphrased gist of the passage:
Any text that spreads the message of kindness (like this one) is holy. Anyone who speaks against a holy message is a monster. Therefore, anyone who disagrees with what this book says about kindness is a horrible, evil person.
I finished reading and said, “Okay.”
Ed smiled and said, “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”
The child screamed, “KY!”
“That passage changed my life,” Ed said.
“Huh,” I answered.
I decided the best form of kindness I could show Ed and myself was to not go on a rant about how awful and disturbing I found his life changing passage.
Instead, I turned and chatted with Sara for a few minutes. Ed got lost in his book again. The child still screamed “KY!” long after her parents had agreed, “Yeah, sure, that’s how you spell Mickey. Please stop screaming KY.”
A lot of the performers and the Sea Monkeys had spent a week on JoCoCruiseCrazy pushing themselves to try new things. New songs, new jokes, new games, new drinks, new people, new experiences, new and inappropriate times and places to yell “SEX PARTY!”
There was a significant amount of discussion that people felt safe to try new things during the cruise because there was an almost surreal level of support, encouragement, and kindness.
Real, simple kindness. Like, “Hey, you should try karaoke. All we ask is that you try hard and have fun and we will applaud. We won’t lie to you and tell you you’re great if you’re not, but we sure as hell won’t laugh at you or throw things.”
If there is a passage about karaoke in the Avatar books I’m sure it’s vile and manipulative stuff teaching the important lesson that ONLY AVATAR CAN SHOW YOU THE WAY TO TRUE KARAOKE AND ONLY IF YOU PAY US A LOT OF MONEY AND HARSHLY JUDGE ALL WHO QUESTION THE ONE TRUE KARAOKE.
And I have a horrible feeling that the ONE TRUE AVATAR KARAOKE SONG is probably “Free Bird.”
In short, I’m very happy to have gone to my own week long seminar on kindness. One that happened organically and honestly without an agenda. One that happened simply because people felt safe to say, “Hey, is it cool if I try something new?”
And the only response they got from the rest of the Sea Monkeys was a resounding, “Yes!”
Usually followed by a resounding “SEX PARTY!”
Wil Wheaton loves beer! Mike Phirman loves Pro-Tools audio software! Molly Lewis plays the Obsessed theme live! A very special episode of Obsessed recorded live on a boat in the middle of the Caribbean sea for Jonathan Coulton’s JoCoCruiseCrazy! Find out the answer to the following questions and more: What is Wesley Crusher’s favorite beer? Could Mike Phirman kill a man with kindness? Why did Molly Lewis smash a pizza box with a ukulele? Plus, Wil and Mike make sex noises to advertise Joseph’s comedy album VERBING THE NOUN. (Also, if you’re a knitter, listen in the background to hear the clicking noises of the live audience’s crafting!)
I suspect I am not alone in feeling as though I am never really getting enough done. While I try not to procrastinate too much, I do make jokes about procrastinating a lot. When I realize I’m procrastinating, I have a lot of little motivational phrases I say out loud to myself. One of them is this:
“Get back to work, you idiot.”
And if I don’t get back to work, I sometimes follow up with:
“You are a bad and stupid person.”
Then I feel guilty that I’m being so mean to myself and I try to make it up to me by allowing myself to make a joke on Twitter about procrastinating. And the cycle continues.
This year, I decided to actually review my calendar and make a list of (almost) everything I did. Please enjoy procrastinating from your work to read about mine!
I did two shows at The San Francisco SketchFest. CineMadness with Bill Corbett and a short version of my geek stand-up/storytelling show, Comedy of Doom.
I co-wrote an internal awards show for General Mills.
I made jokes on Twitter about procrastinating.
I launched the Obsessed podcast as both a live show in Minneapolis and released the first episode online. There have been 10 live shows that have generated 16 podcast episodes.
I wrote a sketch for a magician.
I wrote and performed (with Shanan Custer) a commentary about smartphones for Minnesota Public Radio.
I did a story with the spoken word collective The Rockstar Storytellers.
I was one of the entertainers on JoCoCruiseCrazy II. I performed a full length version of Comedy of Doom. I was thrilled to get a surprise volunteer named Wil Wheaton for my Star Trek bit. I also played the role of “Ed McMahon” on Paul & Storm’s podcast with Paul F. Tompkins.
I gave a talk in a bar about zombies and Minnesota geek culture for the Minnesota Historical Society.
I made jokes on Facebook about procrastinating.
I performed at the Twin Cities convention Mars Con.
I started working as an occasional writer and performer on Wits. Since March, I’ve written for and/or performed with Tim Meadows, Rhett Miller, Andy Richter, Reggie Watts, Fred Willard, Paul F. Tompkins, Wyatt Cenac, Bobcat Goldthwait, Amy Sedaris, Dave Foley, Mike Doughty, Maria Bamford, and Brandi Carlile. And of course host John Moe, John Munson and The Witnesses, and other frequent Wits performers Bill Corbett, Kevin Murphy, and Neil Gaiman.
I went out to eat with my wife on her birthday. She mentioned maybe I should write a book.
I made jokes on Google+ about procrastinating.
I did another story with the Rockstar Storytellers.
I wrote and did eight performances of a one person stand-up show about vampires, stand-up, and vampires doing stand-up called The Sad Vampire Comedy Hour.
I wrote and performed a short story as part of a Minnesota Public Radio showcase led by Kevin Kling.
I did three performances and presentations about using comedy to discuss history for the American Alliance of Museums convention.
I did not get around to making any jokes on social media about procrastinating.
I wrote a lot of new material for the book. I edited the material from the stage version. I took photos for the cover and organized all the illustrations for the book. I hit refresh on the Kickstarter page roughly 700 times a day.
My odd little rock band called Math Emergency (composed of a math professor, a public radio producer, a public radio host, and me) played a gig. I played the drums and made jokes into a microphone.
I appeared on the AON podcast.
I made jokes on Twitter about spending too much time on Twitter.
I went on my friends’ annual bar crawl. I only note this because, while fun, going to 13 bars in 12 hours does feel a bit like work.
I appeared on the Vilification Tennis podcast where I cemented my reputation as an Axl Rose apologist.
I did another story with the Rockstar Storytellers.
I did multiple rounds of proofing and editing on the book and we sent it off to be printed. Comedy of Doom was officially published on June 20, 2012.
I wrote the pilot for an animated series version of the web comic Least I Could Do.
I made mean jokes about Google+ on Twitter.
We sent out all the copies of Comedy of Doom to the kind Kickstarter backers.
I attended the big Twin Cities convention CONvergence. I wrote and performed a one person storytelling and stand-up show about romantic advice for geeks called Verbing The Noun. We’ll be releasing a CD and digital download of the show in time for Valentine’s Day 2013. I did a live Obsessed show with Paul Cornell and Bonnie Burton. I did 10 other comedy panels and a signing for Comedy of Doom.
I did another story with the Rockstar Storytellers.
I co-wrote and performed a comedy show called Comedy: The Show with Four Humors Theater on the Centennial Showboat in St. Paul, Minnesota.
I made a quick trip to Los Angeles for a friend’s birthday party. I even wrote something for that.
I made mean jokes about Google+ on Facebook.
I wrote, produced, and performed in an hour long one act play called Nightmare Without Pants for the Minnesota Fringe Festival. Here is a three minute live video preview of the show, in which I perform an accidental magic trick with a pair of rip-away pants.
Due to the stubborn forward movement of time I became a year older on August 17th.
I performed and did some comedy panels at Dragon*Con in Atlanta.
I made jokes about Google+ on Google+.
I was still at Dragon*Con. For one panel, I was challenged to sing “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” I attempted to do it in the style of Nine Inch Nails. It’s a better song that way.
I did a performance at Space Camp with Marian Call, Molly Lewis, Ken Plume, Phil Plait, and more.
Obsessed was featured on iTunes as “New & Noteworthy” and a “Staff Favorite.”
I co-wrote, helped to organize, and performed in a large awards show for the Minnesota theater community called The Iveys.
I did a podcast with the awesome Len Peralta and became a trading card for his Geek-A-Week series.
I hosted and performed at a viewing of the Doctor Who episode “The Angels Take Manhattan” at The Parkway Theater.
I tried to treat Google+ with a little more respect.
I co-produced, directed, and wrote a piece for a theater event called Thirst. It’s a series of short one-act plays performed in a bar. The show had three performances and it was a benefit to fight for Marriage Equality in Minnesota. Here’s the monologue I wrote about Harry Potter and kindness.
I joined The Ladies of Ragnarok (Molly Lewis, The Doubleclicks, and tour manager Dammit Liz) for a leg of their tour. I performed in Chicago, Minneapolis, and Madison. The Ladies also appeared on Obsessed.
I recorded the audiobook version of Comedy of Doom. We’re still working on editing and mastering the hours of audio.
I did another show with the Rockstar Storytellers.
I wrote and performed a ghost story for Torch Theater in Minneapolis.
I played another gig with Math Emergency.
I started a Tumblr account and wrote a thing about Halloween.
I used National Novel Writing Month as a motivation to work on some screenplays. I finished plotting and scripting the first drafts of two feature length films. Now working on second drafts.
My wife and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary. The traditional gift is iron. The contemporary gift is candy. We gave one another Iron Man Pez dispensers.
I tried to make fun of Google+ on Tumblr, but I felt like I was kicking a puppy.
I wrote and performed the short story Adult Santa for The New Standards holiday show at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, Minnesota.
I did another story with the Rockstar Storytellers.
We (and by “we” I really mean my wife Sara and my graphic designer, Matthew Foster) made Comedy of Doom available on Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Kobo, and many stores in the Twin Cities.
I wrote a story about the grim superhero The Leaping Lord for Paul Cornell’s 12 Blogs of Christmas.
I started writing a new stand-up/storytelling show that I’ll be performing on JoCoCruiseCrazy III.
I started writing another stand-up/storytelling show that I’ll be performing at the Bryant-Lake Bowl in Minneapolis in March of 2013.
I booked guests for Obsessed through March of 2013.
I wrote some stuff that I’ll perform for my annual New Year’s Eve show at the Bryant Lake Bowl.
I made fun of LinkedIn on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Tumblr.
I debated whether or not I should write this. I stared off into space and screwed around on social media. I beat myself up about procrastinating. I forced myself to write this. I read it. I thought about all the amazing creative people I got to meet and work with this year. I ran the post by my wife and business partner without whom none of the above would be remotely possible.
Later tonight, I’ll watch some TV, drink a martini, and think about ways to get even more done in 2013.
I’m going to start by coming up with some new motivational phrases.
I think I’ll try:
“Come on, you idiot, get stuff done so you have something to blog about next year.”
“Stop calling yourself an idiot, you jackass.”
And then I’ll hug myself and move on.
Happy New Year’s,